Marketing Recovery Series: Why you shouldn’t cut your marketing spend in a downturn

2 minute read

In a downturn, marketing budgets are often the first casualty when success is measured in sales. With consumer lines drawn between essential and discretionary purchases, companies face tough spending decisions. Protecting jobs, safely getting products onto shelves and deliveries into the hands of consumers has been everyone’s priority. It’s tempting to crawl under the covers and default to survival mode until the storm passes.

Focusing on what’s immediately ahead has led 70 per cent of companies in Canada to adjust or pause their planned ad spend. However, a large body of evidence says maintaining share of voice is critical to survival and growth in a soft market. Going dark sacrifices long-term growth and bumps the cost of promos and discounts. The winners adapt rather than cut, shifting spending and embracing marketing as economic protection.

Why you shouldn’t cut your marketing budget in a recession

Marketing plays a critical role in protecting both existing investment and future growth. By maintaining your spend, you preserve your presence and defend your position. With this continuity, your advertising investment becomes market share.

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Why marketing during a recession is a good investment

While others go dark, you can get ahead with less. Smart marketers, with the courage and permission to invest during a downturn, continue to connect with consumers in ways that increase mental availability and physical availability. Adapting your marketing spend to reinforce these two essential marketing principles is central to turning survival into growth.

How to make your marketing dollars count in a recession

Make every marketing dollar count by optimizing budgets to a channel mix that will create more mental and physical availability with your audience. Limited budget? Focus on retention and target precisely. Not marketing an essential product or service? Find new ways to engage audiences and become indispensable. Attracting new buyers? Nurture them now to maintain relevance.

Inspiring recession marketing examples

We’ve been inspired by these smart brands who are protecting their investments in bold and authentic ways:

  • P&G has doubled down on its long-term strategy by maintaining investment during the pandemic. Focusing on share of voice, the company is encouraging customers to stay brand loyal for the long term.
  • Canadian owned London Drugs is an essential business. Stores remain open. They’ve made shelf space available for local small retailers. It’s increased product availability and their chances of being a first choice for shoppers.
  • Ryan Reynolds and Mint Mobile adapted production of an epic ad for the low-cost wireless carrier. In a high-switching category, the humble PowerPoint parody creates an on-point emotional connection.

How to optimize your marketing mix during a recession

Leave a lasting impression so that when survival turns to revival, your brand will be the most memorable. Across most categories, purchase decisions are influenced and made at home. Lockdown has simply turned the spotlight on the place we most often shop and browse. The at-home consumer has always been a captivated audience and has become more so.

Optimize your media mix for the at-home consumer. Direct mail engages differently and stays longer. It improves mental and physical availability by increasing memory, time spent and conversion.

See more great advice in our other Marketing Recovery Series blogs.

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