5 marketing musts during a recession (with tactics included!)

36594280 I understand the lure of just hunkering down and waiting out the economic lull.  And I know you’re probably tired of hearing this….but if you are smart — this is a huge opportunity for you to capture market share and solidify your position in the marketplace.

Please do not sit this one out.  And I’m not even going to tell you not to cut prices or cut your budget, because we’ve beat that horse to death!

110% consistency:  The buyers are already jumpy.  Don’t give them any reason to mistrust or doubt you.  Live and breathe your brand integrity.  Don’t do or say anything that contradicts your brand.


  • Review your brand values with each and every employee
  • Refresh your website to put your brand promise front and center
  • Ask your employees for ideas on how to bring your brand to life.  Pay $50 for every idea used.  Make that very public knowledge.

Love on your current customers:  They’re the most likely to buy again and they are also most likely the audience you’ve ignored.  Now is the time to appreciate them, remind them why they trusted you in the first place and over service them.


  • Do a customer only mailing, spotlighting some of your best offerings at their best prices
  • Hold a customer appreciation party and say "thank you" repeatedly
  • Offer a pre-payment discount (you get cash up front and their commitment to follow through)

Give it away:  Demonstrate to the world that you believe in abundance by giving away some of your product or services to a worthy non-profit.  But don’t do a drive by.  Partner with them for the long haul and work your PR magic. 


  • Give your employees a voice in which charity you partner with
  • Be smart – choose a charity that has an influential board of directors and make a point of being at those meetings to share your expertise
  • Trade your products or services for an event sponsorship so you get publicity for your efforts

Listen, respond, repeat:  Now is not the time to be ignoring the marketplace.  You need to be listening to your customers, your competitor’s customers and anyone else who is out there talking about your industry.


  • Do a customer survey (while you are at it, do a past customer survey)
  • Set up Google alerts
  • Jump into conversations about your industry and offer value

Use content marketing:  You’re good at what you do.  You want your prospects and customers to be successful.  Why not position yourself as the expert by sharing your expertise?


  • Create an e-newsletter  (don’t start it if you aren’t going to consistently create/deliver it)
  • Build a robust How To series for your website
  • Launch a business blog (again…don’t start it if you aren’t serious about keeping at it)

What do you think?  Most of these tactics will not cost you an arm or even a leg.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret — they’re pretty effective, even when we’re not facing snug times.

What can you add to the list?  What’s working for you that you can share with the rest of us?

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34 comments on “5 marketing musts during a recession (with tactics included!)

  1. Dennis says:

    I am too much of a contrarian to agree wholeheartedly with anyone, but I will make an exception this time 🙂
    Good work, Drew.

  2. John Rosen says:


    You’re right, you’re right, you’re right. As marketing consultants — that is, as providers of advice and counsel — we have to keep hammering away at this key theme: Downturns are opportunities to gain share, gain customers, gain loyalty! Can you imagine where Toyota would be today if they had “hunkered down” and avoided the U. S. market during the downturns of the ’70’s and ’80’s? They would be the Japanese division of General Motors!


    P. S. I’m happy to see you have time to blog while giving birth to The Age of Conversation.

  3. Patrick says:

    Great advice here, it’s human nature to hunker down during economic downturns but it is good to be reminded that this is the time get out there and perform.

    In your listen respond repeat section I would suggest using Filtrbox to monitor your brand and track your customers and prospects.

    Filtrbox monitors mainstream news, blogs, Twitter and FriendFeed for mentions. You can add your own RSS sources as well. What makes Filtrbox better than Google Alerts is the noise control, coverage options, and the fact that we don’t send duplicate hits.

    If any of your readers would like to use Filtrbox Pro ($20/month) just use “15off” as a promo code to get a 15% discount on the first year of service! Signup @ https://www.filtrbox.com/signup.php and select the “Pro” version.


  4. Dennis,

    Hey…I’ll take that lofty praise, thank you!

    Feel free to add in any additional ideas you might have.


  5. John,

    The Toyota example is an excellent one. It’s so difficult to push past the fear but the companies that do see the opportunity will soon be looking at their competitors from their rear view mirror.

    Even staying the course and not adding anything new will win you new customers while everyone else cuts back.

    In terms of Age of Conversation, we’re almost there — and I think both Gavin and I are ready for a respite! 🙂


  6. John Rosen says:

    Right! Variety should give you both a paid vacation!

  7. John,

    It’s plenty of work but well worth it. It makes the community smarter and stronger and we do some good too.

    That’s a fantastic combination.


  8. Patrick,

    Thanks for telling us a little more about Filtrbox and sharing the discount code!


  9. Bill,

    Bite your tongue. Or knock on some wood. Or throw salt over your shoulder.

    2009 needs to be our upswing year!


  10. Dan says:

    Throwing salt is great….but personally aside from your 5, I like to be persistent in the sense that I do “personal promotion” by writing personal emails to people I think might find my offers of interest. Great info here . . .

  11. Marie Adams says:

    I agree with you that marketers must “love on” current customers. We all know that hanging onto a current customer is much cheaper than acquiring a new one, but we often lose that focus. Some extra hard work now can help you come out on top when the market turns around (and it will!).

    Thanks for the great advice,

  12. I couldn’t agree more. The reality is that while the current climate may make things “harder” for a time, businesses still have the same needs today as they did a year ago. In fact, for them to survive, they need our expertise more than ever.

    Thanks for the insights!

  13. Csalomonlee says:

    Drew – great suggestions. Customers also appreciate it when you’re able to give them some free PR too. It not only increases their awareness but also provides you with third party validation of your products and services.

    One more marketing must is LOVE your sales folks. Provide them with the tools and information they need to do their jobs. And then show them how much you appreciate their work with gifts and praise. In the end, marketing can drive the leads but sales can close them!

  14. Dan,

    Good to have you here – welcome. Personal contact is always a strong marketing tactic.

    The question for you might be…once you’ve made a personal contact and either been ignored or gotten a no, what’s next?


  15. Marie,

    This is one of those universal lessons that for some reason we need to be reminded of, over and over.

    It makes perfect sense and we’ve all seen the value of it. And yet…we always need the nudge!

    So all of you should consider yourself nudged! 🙂


  16. Pizza dreamer!

    Discipline becomes key in times like these. It’s really about consistency, as you wrote about last week. It’s just that being consistent sounds a whole lot easier than it really is.


  17. Cece,

    An excellent addition. Now is also a great time to be an absolutely golden to your internal audiences. The loyalty you will earn will pay off for both you and the customers.

    If we’re smart — this is a perfect time to gain loyalty and marketshare, inside and out.


  18. I don’t know how I missed this piece when you posted it, but it made me smile because it’s almost point by point the strategy plan I just put together for the next 5 months at my company.

    I feel much better now. Anytime anyone doubts one of my action items, I’ll just point them here. You just saved me at least 30 emails and a random ‘come to jesus’ meeting.

  19. Dan,

    There’s nothing that beats a personal touch. I totally agree. I wonder if you would have even more success if you hand wrote a note…and maybe included a little cartoon?


  20. ‘Chelle,

    Congrats on actually having a plan, first off. Second — always happy to save you some time and a Come to Jesus!

    If you do these things and just stay the course…your business will not only survive the next 5 months, but I predict a growth spurt.

    Let me know if I’m right!


  21. Thanks for your insights. I totally agree. While it is human nature to withdraw, cast doubt and use extra caution I don’t think most businesses need to feel threatened by the recession. Sure success may take a bit longer and you make need to work a little harder but when all is said it done the same needs still exist today as they existed last year and will continue to exist moving forward. Now more than ever is the time to rise to the occasion.

  22. I feel much better now. Anytime anyone doubts one of my action items, I’ll just point them here. You just saved me at least 30 emails and a random ‘come to jesus’ meeting.

  23. captainofindustry42@gmail.com says:

    Incredibly intriguing post. I think that of what you mentioned, listening to your customers is the most important. I’ve been trying to implement customer surveys on my site, with some complications– I found out I had outgrown Surveymonkey, but was lucky enough to find Zoomerang, which has more features. So if you’re looking for a survey site, that’s what I’d recommend.

  24. Sorry! Forgot the link– Zoomerang can be found here http://snurl.com/monkeyzoom

  25. Twitter Fan says:

    When budgets are being cut, it is time to look at new, inexpensive ways to get the word out about your business. TWitter is a great tool to use because it will allow you to directly engage with your customers. Social networking and social media in general is not just a good fallback plan, they should be mainstays in your marketing plan.

  26. Making Money says:

    Great marketing tips for the recession economy time. These marketing tips aren’t just useful for company and business but also for those who do Internet marketing to make money, there were good ideas to pick up in this post.

  27. emo girl says:

    The Toyota example is an excellent one. It’s so difficult to push past the fear but the companies that do see the opportunity will soon be looking at their competitors from their rear view mirror.

  28. Fear gets in the way of many a company’s success. But you are right. The ones who can look past it will soon be zooming by their competition!


  29. bob m says:

    Great post here! Thanks!

  30. The Tactics work for real?

    Pretty amazing Drew. Great marketing tips for the recession economy time.


    Free Paying Surveys @ Possible Cash Surveys

  31. make money on the internet says:

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    This is one excellent advice on marketing. It is one good idea taking the feedback of customer about our products so that we can come to know the good and bad things of our products.

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    I think if you develop a hot product or service that is very user friendly and solves an annoying problem or makes like easier, this will stimulate word of mouth marketing. Social media is also a very inexpensive way to market something.

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