How To Keep Marketing During An Economic Downturn

marketing economic downturn
marketing economic downturn

Let’s face it – the current COVID-19 crisis has made it really hard.

How do we keep on keepin’ on when our normal way of life has been turned upside down?

I’m a veteran entrepreneur with 20+ years experience. As a result, I’ve been through economic downturns before: 9/11, the Great Recession, the Dot-Com Crash…and some smaller blip in between those.

I’ve been through these hard times in the past and I’ve learned some lessons about how to survive…and then actually thrive. After the initial economic fallout, I’ve helped to bring my own business and other businesses back in a big way.

To understand more, here’s a bit of my backstory…

In 2000, I opened the doors to my marketing firm with a business partner. 

The Dot-Com bubble had just burst and it caused huge negative ripples throughout many industries. It also hurt a LOT of people’s investment portfolios. The Dot-Com Recession hit hard in March 2001 and then was followed up with September 11.  

As a result, we pivoted away from verticals like tech, software, hospitality, travel, etc. and moved towards the medical field. It was an incredibly stable industry and served us well. 

We were gradually able to add in additional types of clients as things began to settle down and we grew at a nice pace. 

And THEN…the real estate bubble burst and the Great Recession came upon us.  

We had clients declare bankruptcy, we had to lay off some staff…it was a pretty low time.

Our company almost went belly-up as a results of the economic impact.

And then we made a HUGE pivot, directing ourselves to industries where we saw opportunities and shifting our entire business model. 

I’ll be honest…it didn’t happen immediately. It was really hard. 

But we came back stronger, more resilient, and scrappier.

As a result of our pivot, we grew very quickly and reached new level after new level in the years following the Great Recession.

So here’s what I now know: every crisis brings opportunity along with it. 

While some industries go way down, some go way up.

When our businesses and economy are hit by storms that we really have no control over, it breeds change. 

And not all of that change is negative for everyone.

Some examples:

  • 3M (makers of facemasks and PPEs) is working around the clock to manufacture products for healthcare workers, and their stock is on the rise.
  • Law firms around the world are currently swamped with changes in contracts, upticks in legal disputes, and helping their clients navigate all-new, uncharted legal waters.
  • IT firms are being flooded with requests to help companies get all of their employees set up to work remotely.

There absolutely is a need for your services if you shift your offers and focus on marketing to businesses and industries that are currently thriving. 

Below are some of my biggest tips for marketing yourself during an economic slump, while your competitors are most likely burying their heads in the sand.

There IS opportunity.

There IS technology available to help you.

There IS an end to all this. There always is. 

And when it’s over, I want YOU to be the one catapulting your business to the next level, and saving the day for your clients who need your good work.

How to Keep Marketing Your Business During an Economic Downturn

#1. Take care of yourself first

Keep yourself and your family healthy. 

If you are going to continue bringing in money, then protect your #1 business asset – YOU!

And if you can keep your health and head in the right space, you can set yourself up for tremendous success right now.

While you’re going about your day, in your (quite possibly new) routine, make a commitment to yourself and your well-being first. 

For your mental health, I recommend considering a social media and news diet.

Set aside a specific time to check your newsfeed and the news. I’m a fan of keeping it to the evening, after you’ve been productive for the day. 

If you take a social media diet, you’ll be in a better place to show up for your business and your clients. Simple as that.

The news cycle is not serving you. The social media space isn’t going to serve you, your clients, your prospects.

If you’ve taken care of your family, your home, and you’re at home under quarantine anyway…what does the news really do for you? It spirals your brains into what-if, what-if, what-if…

So while you certainly can and should have information, remember that you can get it in about 15 minutes a day.

Bonus reading >> Daily Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

#2. Nurture relationships with your existing clients

Now is the time to obsess over client retention

Do what you have to do to keep and calm your clients. Be their voice of reason and stability. 

Get on daily calls if they need them! Bend over backwards to serve them!

Take this time to reassure your audience, and talk to them about what they can be doing right now.

This is your time to be a caretaker. 

Come to the table as an expert and consultant. A helping hand.

There’s a lot of loneliness in uncertainty in change, and it’s the time for you to build relationships, and show up as a creative problem solver.

Remember, that IS marketing! Nurturing those relationships and marketing to your existing clients lets them know you have their backs. 

Some of them might need you now more than ever.

So please don’t back off from serving your existing clients. They need you.

#3. Build the things you have control over

I often tell my clients, Your competitors are mediocre at best. 

YOU’RE the one with your unique Superpower. 

YOU’RE the one with the know-how. 

While your competitors are spinning the media cycle, getting distracted, losing their focus, and curling up in the corner…NOW is the time to focus on getting smart and being clever. 

Because there are so many things we can do during a downturn. 

During a slump, it’s a great time to create and develop the things you do have control over: growing your audience, building your partnerships, setting up new technologies, expanding your assets…

There are so many things you can be doing in a downturn that aren’t direct sales, but are still helping you to put yourself out there while everyone else is running scared.

Make a commitment to yourself to build your assets, take action, and make pivots if and where they’re needed. 

It can also be a great time to test new technologies or new packages. Think about it: we can still send emails, post on social media, make videos, have Zoom calls. 

You can use technology to bridge the gap with anything you’re currently doing. I promise.

So learn what’s out there. Find where the opportunities lie. And use this time to create new materials to use both now and later.

#4. Don’t make assumptions for your audience

A lot of entrepreneurs and business are making assumptions right now:

  • People don’t want to hire me 
  • People don’t have the money
  • People are in a panic
  • People need a discount

Sure. Some are going through that right now.

But other people are fine. 

Other people are finding themselves with more time to invest in their business, because they’re working from home. 

Maybe they’ve dropped a three-hour commute to work, and now they have time to finish their website.

Maybe their gym closed, and now they’re ready to commit to virtual health coaching.

There are definitely people in your audience who need you and will buy. They are smart, they are savvy, and they are ready to make moves right now.

So don’t shy away because you’re making assumptions about what your audience can and cannot do.

I have clients who are still landing deals in lots of different industries right now.

There are clients and jobs out there. Don’t let your fear or assumptions do the talking.

#5. Be scrappy

The most important thing I’ve discovered when navigating global crises is to be scrappy. 

Have fight. Have agility. Have personality. 

Show up.

THAT’S who you need to be.

Don’t go running around like Chicken Little with the sky falling. It does you — and your clients — no good.

You do yourself far more favors when you’re:

  • Flexible
  • Proactive
  • Creative
  • Fast

Take new shots. Try new things. Be willing to fail quickly, and then try new things again.

And teach your clients to be scrappy as well. You can be that voice of stability AND offer hope for them, too.

Those of you who can bounce back quickly and pivot, YOU will position yourself to leap ahead when things come back around. 

Your competition, however, is going to stay in the slump much longer and come out much slower.

And some won’t make it at all because they aren’t marketing and selling right now.

Don’t be afraid to market yourself during a downturn

When there are some really big things going on out in the world, we feel scared to market ourselves because it might feel insensitive.

Yes, 100% absolutely, there are some very serious things happening to those who are sick, out of work, and on the front line in hospitals.

And there are also people in your audience who NEED you to help them right now.

Now is the time to be forward-looking. It’s your role as a CEO to look out over the horizon to see what’s coming, and to put your iron in the fire.

And the truth is, most people are going to be sitting at home and bored out of our minds until things get back to normal. 

Put your content out there for people to consume. They have the time right now.

Chase the opportunities where they are. Be there for your clients. Be flexible. Stay safe.

And schedule a call with me to talk about how I can help you. 

I’ve been here before. I’ve come out of it. I’ve rocket blasted out of it. 

You can, too.

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