With every up comes a down, and undoubtedly, we’re seeing the beginning stages of an economic downturn.
This isn’t great news for businesses with aggressive growth goals, especially those with sales teams that are already struggling to make traction.
And when the going gets tough, sales and marketing budgets are almost always among the first to be slashed by business owners in an effort to save money and become more profitable.
But, this can be a huge mistake.
A McGraw-Hill research study looked at the performance of about 600 companies from past recessions. Businesses that chose to maintain or raise their level of marketing during the recession had significantly higher sales after the economy recovered.
Consider also that marketing budgets still have not recovered to pre-pandemic benchmarks. According to Gartner, marketing budgets climbed from 6.4% of company revenue in 2021 to 9.5% in 2022, but they still lag behind 2018, 2019 and even 2020 budgets.
Instead of slashing an already small budget, get creative with your sales and marketing dollars during a recession. There are plenty of ways to make sales and grow your business even when times are tough.
We share the answers for “how to” below.
Establish a clear message
During a period of recession, consumers become more value-conscious and focused on needs over wants. This is why it's so important for businesses to have a clear and concise message that highlights their unique selling points and really focuses on the challenges of your buyer.
A recession is the perfect time to reevaluate your message and ensure that the pain points solved by your product or service are clear and very, very pressing.
When your message truly resonates with your ideal customer, your prospective clients realize their problem is not going to go away without investing in what you offer.
A clear message is the key to continuing to earn sales, no matter how long a recession lasts.
Invest in more of what’s working
While it may seem counterintuitive, now is actually the time to spend some money! Specifically, your business should spend their marketing budget on channels that are performing well despite the current climate. These could be things like paid advertising or search.
First and foremost, supply and demand can lower media costs. So while your competitors scaling back may give you the urge to do the same, you really should do the opposite.
Lowered marketing and ad costs give you the opportunity to reach the customers your competitors are no longer connecting with due to their slashed budgets.
Supply and demand can also lower the cost of technology and tools that would prove valuable to your business. It’s a great time to look for free trials and invest in annual subscriptions for the tools that are beneficial to keeping your sales and marketing on track.
As an example, a robust CRM allows your sales team to follow up constructively with prospects and nurture leads through the buyer’s journey.
Or, look into automation tools, like those that send scheduled email sequences, to ensure you’re not missing out on opportunities.
Increase content marketing
Content is still king. Content marketing (also referred to as assets) can take many forms, such as blog posts, e-books, infographics, sales slicks, case studies or white papers.
By creating quality content that is rich in keywords as well as expertise, you can attract new prospects while keeping your existing customers engaged and buying from you—and all for a modest cost.
In addition to being cost-effective, content marketing is also a great way to reach your target audience. By creating relevant and engaging content, you can connect with your ideal customers and build trust and credibility over time.
Why does content matter? Because it isn’t just your competition being cautious with their money. Your prospective customers are also generally more cautious with their funds. This means that they're more likely to research purchase decisions carefully and move through your marketing funnel slowly before making a monetary commitment.
When you have a lot of assets that appeal to prospects at various stages of your marketing funnel, you have a better chance of resonating and driving conversions.
Use reputable outsourcing companies for your marketing
Outsourcing allows you to focus on your core responsibilities. You know—doing what you do best!
By outsourcing sales and marketing support, you can free up the time and resources you need to succeed in your job, whether that’s mentoring your sales team or reaching ambitious goals.
You’re also bringing in a level of expertise that simply can’t be matched internally.
Outsourced teams like Peer have access to entire networks of designers, writers, developers and strategists, each with a unique specialty that can be tapped for your specific needs. These experts also make it their mission to stay up to date on the latest and greatest tips, tricks and news in their industry to ensure they’re always delivering top-notch assets.
Additionally, outsourcing can give your business much higher output than an in-house team, helping you increase the prospects that enter your funnel.
Meanwhile, in-house teams tend to be bogged down by too many requests and not enough staff. They also don’t always have access to the expensive licenses and tools needed to create what they want to make.
Allocating your budget dollars to an outsourced team is a no-brainer.
During a recession, businesses need to be focused on growth more than ever. But cutting the sales and marketing budget will only hinder that growth, potentially leading to more financial problems in the future.
Remember: Recessions are temporary! According to Nielsen, 75% of recessions end within a year, while 30% only last two quarters.
It is absolutely possible to grow your business during a recession, even on a small marketing budget. Learning how to become more efficient with the dollars you have is key to growth!
Start recession-proofing your sales and marketing budget. Download our Small Business Survival Kit.