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What can marketers do in a recession?

by Khoros Staff (Anastacia Darby) | Mar 08, 2023

Economic downturns are hard for everyone, marketers included. People feel more hesitant about spending money, and many have less to spend. An economic downturn is a time to reevaluate strategies to make an impact with less money. Here, we’ll share what marketers can do in a recession to continue delivering for their businesses.

The impact of a difficult economy on marketers

Tighter budgets and shifting marketing priorities impact marketers. You might reorient your goals or even wear new hats in your role. You might need more time and money to spend on things like content creation, paid advertising, engagement, and more. 

Also, when money is tight, competition tends to be more high-stakes. However, with the proper techniques and strategies, marketers can do things to mitigate the impact of these challenges.

How every marketer can adapt

1. Identify weak areas

Marketers need to look at every stage of the funnel and identify weak areas. It’s not enough (and not advised) to spend your money on paid ads alone. The hallmark goals of marketing still apply: raising awareness, cultivating engagement, and, ultimately, increasing conversions.

When developing your messaging for recession marketing campaigns, remember that your audience is also navigating a difficult financial time. They’re evaluating a hierarchy of problems, not all with clear solutions. You can show how your brand can help be that solution without being overly pushy.

2. Evaluate your tech stack

Marketers spend hours strategizing how to promote their businesses. From organic and paid advertising to creating social media strategies, we like to plan. But sometimes, the market throws your plans for a loop, and you need to be ready and willing to adjust. As trends and people constantly change, it’s essential to keep an ear to the ground and know what is currently resonating with your audience.

Here are some ways to listen and learn:

  • Use deep listening tools to keep a pulse on what’s trending and understand what people say about your brand.

  • Use data from your social media marketing tool to inform you about what is working and what needs to change in your strategy.

  • Partner with experts that make it their priority to help you reach your goals. Having a team of experts in social media on your side to keep you informed on what’s happening in the market can cut down on the time you spend sifting through data, freeing up you and your team to focus on other priorities.

It’s essential to keep a learner mindset and always look for ways to improve.

3. Seize opportunity

Economic uncertainty can be scary, but it also creates opportunity. When there’s a change or fracture in the status quo, it establishes new, underserved needs.

While you shouldn’t try to fit into a box that’s not right for your brand, you should think about what core competencies your company has that you, as a marketer, can lean into. What are the gaps you can fill in the market?

Rather than be afraid of changing headwinds, consider how to capitalize on them.

Considerations for B2B vs. B2C recession marketing strategies

Our Khoros Strategic Services team provided some B2C and B2B-specific tips to adapt in a difficult economy below. For 1:1 support, reach out to the Strategic Services team here.


1. Arm your frontline teams with the resources they need. Social media is one of the first places consumers go to ask questions, so providing messaging is critical. You also want to designate points of contact across departments in cases of escalation and visibility into content calendars and campaigns.

2. Automate processes and prioritize when possible. In a downturn, B2C companies typically have to shift priorities on short notice and without extra resources. The more you can automate beforehand frees you up to tackle the biggest priorities without getting bogged down by mundane tasks. Review available resources and determine which are mission-critical in a downturn.

3. Tailor your strategy to the needs of your customer. For example, travel and hospitality brands are among the hardest hit during economic downturns, as consumers have less money for nonessential expenses. In this case, consider sharing special promotions and discounts to incentivize budget-conscious customers. You should also look to maintain your audience and followers by delighting and providing relatable, entertaining content on social media. They can still keep your brand front of mind even if they’re not spending.

4. Leverage word-of-mouth marketing through user-generated content and influencer partnerships. 76% of people say they trust content shared by “normal people” over brand content. Listen to your audience and increase earned and influencer content to your channels, like visual content and customer testimonials. It helps you drive awareness and increase brand love and consideration.

5. Promote a cause for social good that aligns with your brand’s partnerships and values. Consider bringing more awareness to an existing cause or leading a fundraiser through a social challenge or content series. Of course, this should always be paired with a promise to match funds or provide a large donation from your brand. Putting action behind your brand values will aid in strengthening brand loyalty from your customers.


    1. Continue to build trust in your brand. Brand trust is critical in weathering an economic recession. While marketing priorities shift under challenging times, it’s important not to lose focus on what’s most important to retain brand loyalty. Continue to prioritize critical groups, like your existing customers, as a long-term strategy.

    2. Determine your most promising opportunities for growth and keep the focus there. In a downturn, it’s important to lean in where you have the highest chance for success. For example, it might be best to focus on geographic regions that are less impacted or where you already have good market share and visibility. Segmenting these audiences and catering to your marketing is critical.

    3. Listen to your audience and adjust accordingly. Economic downturns and crises shift quickly, so your approach should do the same. Establish a solid social listening strategy and use the data to adjust your marketing. This is an excellent practice to have economic instance, but especially in times of crisis.

    4. Narrow your channel focus. Consider which channels and ad types are most effective at driving leads and conversions for your brand, and focus more on those. As part of this move, leverage A/B testing on the chosen channels to understand which content, messaging, and targeting work best for your brand.

    5. Measure success and business impact. It’s crucial to show how marketing efforts drive value to your business. Establish your benchmarks, set your goals and KPIs, and consistently review your tracking plan so you have a solid holistic strategy. For further guidance on tracking, watch our on-demand webinar, Digital marketing metrics that matter.


      Here are some insights to help you increase efficiency and effectiveness at every stage of the funnel during difficult times, even when you are short on budget and time:


        • Keep your social network profiles complete and up to date. Many consumers may never visit your website, so your social presence is your chance to make a great first impression and communicate important information.

        • Determine which of your networks are best for brand awareness, especially for paid efforts, which allow you to target best, and which are most cost-effective.

        • Keep all social media interactions with customers and fans consistent with your brand’s voice, and make sure your team follows your guidelines for when and how to respond to comments and direct messages.

      Consideration and Engagement

        • Use social media management software that makes it easier to publish your content, discover new ways to evolve your brand, and engage with your audience in more meaningful ways.

        • Encourage two-way conversation by posting open-ended questions on blog articles and social posts, incorporating social polls on your website, and responding politely to social media comments from fans and critics alike.

        • Ask customers for feedback, comments, and especially success stories. Amplify great stories across all relevant channels.


        • Include calls to action on all shared content — a link to more great content, a request to share the content on social media, or an offer to get in touch.

        • Drive your audience to your conversion points in multiple places across your social channels. Always work to capture additional information about people engaging with your brand on social media.

        • Retarget people who abandoned their cart (B2C) or those who have engaged with past content through paid social, like Facebook Dynamic Ads or LinkedIn InMail.

      Interested in learning more?

      If you’re looking for a partner for a one-off strategic project or for ongoing support marketing in a recession, connect with an expert in Strategic Services here. Here are a few additional resources that expand on the topics shared above:

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