Marketing in a Recession: How to Plan Ahead

dollar bill on wood table

Hey everybody, Dacia Coffey here and welcome to Wednesday!

This is the written edition of my weekly series, Corporate Caffeine. FYI – I host this series live on Facebook & LinkedIn, post these episodes to YouTube, and have a bonus podcast covering a lot of this content and more!  

Looking Ahead

Everything we do in business is about empowerment and driving positive change in our lives and the lives of our customers. That means we must do more than react: We must know when change is coming and how to prepare for it. 

This means managing the economy. 

Whether you think it’s here already or coming, it’s important to talk about a core truth. We may be heading into a recession, and it may be here already. That means every business has to prepare to market in a recession. 

You’ve probably done it before. So often there is a crazy event — like a pandemic — that’s just a major curveball. One we didn’t see coming. But a surprise is no excuse for lack of preparation.

From a business standpoint, it’s unacceptable to constantly be caught off guard. Whether you’re talking about competitive threats, industry disruptions, or new technology, you must acknowledge that change will come. That means you have to get firmly anchored in how you’ll navigate the future.

At Marketing Blender, we don’t believe in a lot of talk. We get into the actionable piece of what you need to do, which means you need a full context. We believe you have to deal with two sides of the coin. 

Marketing in a Recession — Find Both Sides of the Coin

On one side of the coin is tactical planning. You can do strategic things to keep your business focused and moving. 

But that’s only half the battle. We also need to talk about the personal side: What kind of discipline and mindset do you need to be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually in the driver’s seat? 

Let me start with a personal story. My husband tried to teach me mountain biking. He’s an extremely aggressive rider, and it’s a little challenging to learn from somebody like that. But, I got a couple lessons from him — not just about mountain biking but about life. Chief among them? He told me to never look straight down at where you’re riding. Never look at the rocks, roots, hills, or anything right in front of your tire. You must keep your eyes on where you’re going now, and that’s how you avoid crashing.  

I’m also a yogi. And I know this from personal experience: Great yoga instructors will explain that wherever your eyes go, your body follows.

This principle is fundamental when we say it out loud, but it’s critical to constantly think about where we want to go. And this is true for success in business and growing your revenue. It’s what you’re focusing on, what you’re looking at, in the most literal and metaphorical way, that matters most. It drives your mental health and financial health.

Whether I’m talking about my husband Kyle, my worries, my business, or marketing in a recession, I have to ask myself: what kind of mindset do I have? You have to pay attention to this because it’s very difficult to get into innovation and optimism if your head isn’t in the right place. This means that marketing in a recession is about the future.

Think about Elon Musk. Love him or hate him, he constantly focuses on the possibility of the future. Successful people will always focus on a possible future. 

Focusing on the Future: Two Questions 

1) What is a bold, exciting, and invigorating future you can envision?

2) What are you focusing on right now? What can you not let go of in business or your personal life?

Don’t judge yourself. Remember, you cannot veer onto another path if you don’t acknowledge where you’re at. As the old saying goes, you can only manage what you can measure and acknowledge. But remember, what you measure, you magnify. And in so doing, you can realize what changes you need to make. All business, including marketing in a recession, is about finding the right people. If someone is lacking, you need to know to make a change.  

That’s why taking a step back is sometimes so, so important. When you’re focusing too hard, you’re not seeing the totality of any given situation. It’s important when it comes to any kind of growth. First, you must measure the right things and be fixated on the right things. Then, the right decisions flow from that. 

Recessions Can Reveal Marketing Opportunities

Let’s bring this back to recessions. Recessions are a normal part of life. Since the Great Depression, there have been 16 recessions in about 90 years. One every six years. This is a part of normal living in the modern world. 

Just because they are quasi-predictable doesn’t mean you have to like them! But it’s reality; you must navigate the unpredictable and be ready to navigate the next one. So instead of drowning in worry, figure out how marketing in a recession will open up opportunities for you. 

Every time there’s a recession, a downturn, or a surprise, there’s an opportunity to find new strength and new opportunities that did not previously exist. 

As for marketing in a recession, never panic. 

It’s time to get thoughtful, communicate more than you normally do with other people, and sharpen your thinking. It is time to learn, pay attention, and put on your critical thinking skills.

Lastly, focus on bleeding indicators instead of lagging indicators. A lagging indicator is a number you cannot change. However, you can change your behavior so that the bleeding indicators — those future numbers — are positively impacted. For example, are you paying attention to metrics triggers that set you on the right or wrong course? How often are you reaching out to people? How thoroughly are you following up with people? How much value are you bringing? Are you engaging in pre-planning calls so that you’re bringing maximum value? 

Want to learn more about marketing in a recession? Schedule a time to connect with a marketing expert!