Tips for Marketing During a Downturn

Here are 5 actionable marketing tips for your business that will help keep you relevant during an economic downturn.
Marketing During A Downturn

Is it a downturn, or isn’t it? While the current economic situation keeps giving us mixed signals about the near future, most experts still believe that — soft landing or not — we’re about to experience an economic downturn.  

Here are 5 actionable marketing tips for your business that will help keep you relevant and come out the other side of this thing in better shape.

1. Adjust Audience Targeting 

One big challenge for companies during a recession or downturn, is that we have to really go against conventional marketing knowledge. One of the areas this is especially evident is in audience targeting. Right now, it’s not quite as important to target people by their age, hobbies, interests, or gender when creating advertising campaigns.  

The bigger question is how people are feeling about the economy right now. Feelings are harder to quantify than hard demographics. For unstable economic times, it’s a good idea to create a new batch of customer personas. We can ask a few questions to come up with these new personas: Who might be feeling most anxious about a recession? Which industries are hit hardest?  What types of products are people buying at the precipice of a potential downturn, and what types of products are already seeing the pinch?  

2. Make Messaging Adjustments  

If the ad budget in your organization takes a hit, there’s plenty that can be done to keep your brand relevant. People who typically shop a lot, and might be worried about spending extra money, won’t suddenly stop researching products. Businesses who stop marketing altogether won’t be able to stay top-of-mind anymore; there is an excellent opportunity to get noticed as other companies abandon their marketing plans.

Shifting from conversion-based messaging to awareness and interest campaigns makes sense. Take the time to give people more in-depth information about your company and its people, as well as details on products and services that you might not normally go into at the top of the sales funnel.  

3. Focus on Building Trust  

For consumers who lean towards the anxious side of the new persona spectrum we’re creating, there’s a lot of comfort in going about business as usual. But since these customers aren’t actively buying right now, content should be adjusted to show the human side of your business and remind everyone that we’re just like everyone else: people with jobs, worries, insight and empathy.  

The beauty of trust-building content is that it’s beneficial for all states of the funnel in all types of economies. Your potential customers always want to know who’s behind their products and services, that they’re real and human, and that they can trust they’re buying into something made from good intentions.  

4. Consider New Products and Services  

It’s logical to cut spending for new product launches when times are tough. These are huge, time-consuming and expensive projects that generally require the full focus of your whole organization.  

But statistically, products launched during a recession not only have a better chance of long-term survival than other products, they also tend to generate MORE sales than average. When there aren’t as many new products to compete with, people who lean toward the “business as usual” spectrum of our new recession buyer personas will be attracted to anything new and unique.  

According to the Harvard Business Review, the best time to launch a product is just after a recession’s mid-point. And even if a new product or service launch isn’t feasible, putting money into research and development is a smart move to stay ahead of other companies who pause everything.  

5. Consider the Case for Increased Spending  

In a study of 1,000 U.S. and European businesses during a recession, the companies were split into three categories: Companies that increased their marketing spend, companies that stayed the same, and companies that cut their marketing budgets.  

The companies that cut their spending saw a 0.8% drop in market share. The companies that spent the same saw a 0.6% market share increase. The companies that increased their marketing spending saw a 4.3% market share increase!  

Despite the evidence that says otherwise, some companies are still hardwired to regard marketing as a luxury and not a necessity. So if you do have a marketing budget to spend before the end of the year, spend it now.  


It’s not enough to say you shouldn’t stop spending money on marketing during a recession/downturn. We need specific things we can all do, fairly easily, to keep relevant and survive when the economy’s not stable.  

By adjusting your messaging and targeting, creating new recession personas for customers, focusing on building trust and moving forward with new products and services, your organization will statistically be better off than other companies that pump the brakes on advertising altogether.  


Versatility Creative Group is a full-service creative marketing agency helping businesses with marking solutions, digital marketing, professional video production, graphic design, web design, social media, branding and photography.  Seth Garland, Digital Marketing Manager can be reached at if you have any questions or comments about this article. If you are interested in working with Versatility Creative Group, Sandy Michael, Owner/Executive Producer, can be reached at 

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