Stressed out business owner.

Maximize Your Marketing: How to Drive Results in an Economic Downturn

Stressed out business owner.
Here’s how to get results from your marketing in any conditions.

There is no question the current economic conditions are creating challenges for consumers and businesses alike. Uncertainty about interest rates is causing buyers to be more hesitant than ever before. The rising cost of power, raw materials, fuel and just about everything else means when they do finally make a decision, they’re likely to spend less than they would have done previously. And the upcoming increases to wages and superannuation mean businesses are re-evaluating hiring decisions and cutting casual hours leaving people with less work and therefore less money. 

Add these factors together and you’ve got a perfect storm designed to make business harder than it’s been in a long time. And with so many small businesses having started in the past few years, it’s the first time many business owners have seen these kind of trading conditions, so they’re unsure how to navigate them and they’re asking ‘is it even worth advertising if no-one has any money?’ 


The answer is yes, you absolutely should be advertising now, in fact you should be advertising now more than ever. As a person who owns a marketing agency, of course I would ay that, but let me explain…  While it might seem like a good time to stop your ads and save some money that’s one of the worst things you could do. Having said that, you’ll almost certainly need to make some changes if you want your ads to be successful. Before we look at that, let’s look at why you should keep advertising. 


  • People still have problems they need solved. Even if they have less to spend, people still have needs, wants and problems to solve. That means they still need whatever it is you’re offering. 
  • Not everyone is short on dough. Yep, there are people and businesses thriving in these conditions, so you want to make sure you can be found when they want you. 
  • There’s less competition. Despite the fact you should keep advertising, many business will stop or cut back. That means there is less competition so your message will get more cut through, and your ad costs will be lower. 
  • Now is the time you can grow your market share. You may not grow your revenue or profit, but there is a ton of evidence that businesses who advertising in tough times increae their share of the market. When times improve (which they inevitably will) those businesses will retain that share of a more bouyant market, and that’s hen their revenues will explode! 
  • People need to know you’re still here for them.  With so many businesses closing down, if you stop advertising people will lose trust that you’re here for the long haul, or even that you’ve closed down. Now more than ever you need to give people confidence that you’re going to be around to support them when they really need you.  


OK, so we know it’s important to keep advertising, but how? And what changes do you need to make? 

Review your client persona. 

What people want and need now is most likely not what they needed and wanted twelve or even six months ago. With so much having changed what’s important to your ideal client is likely to have changed. Their priorities may have shifted. The kind of language they respond to now might be slightly different, perhaps more conservative. Similarly, the kiind of visuals they respond to may have changed. What’s the number 1 pain point they need solved that you ca help with right now? Is it the same as it was a year ago?  

Pivot or update your offer. 

If the number 1 problem your ideal customer has now is not the same as it was a year ago, they’re unlikely to respond to the same offer that did a year ago, because that would have been tailored to a different problem, right?         What we’re seeing is that businesses offering the same thing, in the same way, as they were offering it previously are just getting results. You need to meet people where they’re at today. Is your core offer, the thing you want people to say ‘YES’ to, still helping them get what they want? If not, you’ll need to change it, or pivot completely. Think back to 2020 when everything changed. Suddenly restaurants couldn’t provide that dining experience. A romantic dinner with someone took on a whole new look with us being confined to our homes. The most successful business owners knew people still wanted that experience, and they found creative ways to give it to them at home. Fitness trainers moved their classes online. In the current climate we’re seeing coaches move their one-on-one coaching programmes into group programmes to provide a lower cost offering. Service providers are creating done WITH you programmes to complement their done FOR you proggrammes, as a way of allowing businesses to still achieve the same goal, but better utilise internal resources because efficiency gains are one of the key pain points for businesses in this current climate. How can you adjust your offer, or create new ones to meet current demands.  

Review your messaging and offer positioning.

Don’t be tone deaf to the challenges facing people. It could be that the problems your idea customer is trying to solve are still the same, you may just need to adjust your messaging. For many people and many businesses their focus has shifted away from trying to thrive, grow and achiev big goals, and become more about being responsible or surviving. With so many people struggling, those who aren’t may feel ‘survivors guilt’ so your messaging is likely to resonate more if you take that into account.  


Show compassion and flexibility.

Can you offer flexible payment terms, or perhaps add some extra value to your offer, showing your ideal customer that you understand what they’re going through and you’re offering a helping hand. The key to success here is to be genuine. This is not an opportunity gouge people with manipulative messaging, this an opportunity to grab extra market share by genuinely offering a helping hand.  


Develop a lower spec offer.

This is one of the most effective things you can do. By developing a lower spec offer, or a service that delivers only some of what’s in your core offer, you can still help the people who need you, you can maintain your margins allowing you to deliver a quality service, but you can do it for less financial commitment from your client. You may be surprised how many people look at your lower spec offer and decide they actually don’t want to miss out on any of the features in your core offer and somehow find the money.  


Include SMS in your strategy. 

People are busy and not everyone has time to read all their emails. As long as you don’t overdo it, a simple SMS letting people know about a new offer, important update or email they really should read can make a massive difference to your engagement rates. For a simple guide on how to get started with SMS marketing, check our blog What’s Hot and What’s not in SMS Marketing. 


Get creative.

As entrepreneurs and marketers, it’s our job to understand the problems being faced by our ideal customer and come up with creative ways to solve those problems. Our clients know the problem they have, and they know the outcome they’re looking for, but they don’t always know what they need in order to archive that outcome. One of may favorite example of this is the famous quote by Henry Ford when he developed the car.  


“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”  People knew they wanted to get places more quickly, but it took the vision and entrepreneurial genius of Henry Ford to develop the car.  


It might be encouraging to know that some of the most successful businesses not only grew during tough times, but started out under the most difficult conditions. If brands like this can start and become successful when the economy is at its worst, those of us already up and going have no excuses. Just look at this list… 

  • FedEx started during the oil crisis of 1973 
  • Walt Disney company started less than a year before the market crash of 1929 
  • Hewlett Packard started in 1935 during the Great Depression 
  • Coors Beer started in 1873 during a depression 
  • Costco was founded during a recession in the late 70’s 
  • Revlon, 1932 during the Great Depression 
  • Microsoft was started in 1975 during a recession 


Now, these are all big companies but they had to start somewhere. They all started during the most difficult of times and, because they had offers and messaging that resonated with what people were feeling at the time, they succeeded. And you can too… It starts with taking the first step. 

Not sure whaat the first step is? Grab our free One Page Marketing Plan worksheet here.