When a recession hits, we experience less income and revenue which means less spending. Consumers don’t spend as much, which leads to lower sales; consequently, local businesses have to reduce expenses. When deciding where to make this expense cut, many local businesses go straight to marketing.
In fact, after the 2008 recession, ad spending in the U.S. dropped by a total of 13%. Newspaper ad spending dropped the most at 27% and radio spending dropped by 22%, followed by magazines by 18%, out-of-home advertising by 11%, television by 5% and online advertising by 2%.
This is actually the wrong approach to take because marketing can save a business during a recession. Here’s how:
1. Competitors are likely to reduce ad spend, so consequently it is easier to break through the clutter
When a recession hits, cutting the marketing budget seems like an obvious choice for most local businesses. This is something to take advantage of, because less advertising spend from your competitors means more open ad space and also a decrease in bidding wars. In other words, when your competitors stop spending on advertising it means that there is more space for your brand’s ads to be seen by your target audience.
2. Advertising costs decrease, including average cost per lead
With less businesses advertising, digital marketing costs will actually decrease because you won’t have to compete as aggressively when bidding on ad space. As a result of ad space becoming less competitive, the average cost-per-click will lower. If you maintain your current budget, you should experience higher ROI as a result of this.
3. If you stop marketing and advertising, you will lose brand awareness in your community, and it will be hard to build back up
An obvious effect of halting all advertising is losing brand awareness - something that local businesses need to survive. By stopping all advertising, local businesses potentially risk losing awareness for both current and future business. They also risk allowing their local competitors to dominate in the local community. Losing brand awareness is also extremely tough to build back up once it is lost.
4. Current and potential customers will view your business as strong
When you advertise during hard times, it actually gives off the impression that your business is doing well, even if you are experiencing some economic problems behind the scenes. Consumers want to feel confident in the businesses that they are choosing, and a strong presence both online and offline helps with this.
5. It helps to over communicate during uncertain times
During an economic downturn, people become scared and are not sure what to do. By continuing to market your business, you can share your expertise as well as how you can help both now and in the future when the market turns around. Make sure to have your contact database in order so it is easy to stay top of mind with all of your audiences. Segment your list by past clients, current clients, leads and other connections and reach out to them consistently via email or text.
If money is tight, we recommend lowering the budget of your advertising spend. Do not stop all advertising. Audit your current marketing channels to determine where your budget is being allocated, and think strategically about what channels are giving you the highest ROI, whether it be for generating new customers or even boosting brand awareness. Also consider implementing technology to keep costs down and automate business processes. If your local business remains calm and maintains a strong presence in the local community, you’ll be on top when the dust settles.