Critical Question #1: What Have Past Recessions Taught Us?


We’ve spent a lot of time looking at past recessions and marketing during economic instability.

What you may find surprising is that we see marketing during a recession as a great opportunity to get ahead, differentiate your brand, and consider strategies you may not have tried before.

Marketing directors and CEOs should be recognizing that it’s a real opportunity to grow and set up future growth.  Within a recession, you should consider the realities of:

  • less competition
  • change in media
  • change of consumer habits
  • change in supply chains
  • change in B2B / B2C relationships


Not only does change beget opportunity; advertising is simply too important to skip out on.

As Henry Ford said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”

Studies have found:

  • 365% Sales Increase: A McGraw Hill research study of recession marketing revealed those that maintained or increased their advertising during a recession posted an average sales growth of 256% after the recession.
  • 5% x market share growth: In the last recession, only 18% of companies increased their marketing.  As a result, their market share growth outpaced other businesses by 2.5 times.
  • 9% Grew: Harvard Business Reveals in 2010:  4,700 companies in the 2008-2009 recession.  17% bankruptcy or acquired.  80% slowly recovered or more in 3 years after the recession ended.  9% grew during and after the recession.
  • 3 Years Head Start: Frankenberger and Graham (1976-1991):  Firms that advertised during a recession increased sales that helped them for up to 3 years after the recession.

Conclusion: Cutting your budget in bad times prolongs the negative effects.  Increasing your budget sets you up to dominate your market.


Critical Question #2: Does my positioning match the economic reality / consumer mentality?

Marketing managers need to be sure that their positioning and image aligns with the current reality their prospects are facing.

Do you still have a relevant, unique, and exciting selling proposition (USP) in light of the economic uncertainty?

Here are the key issues:

Post-Pandemic Recovery Marketing Reality

  • Decreased competition = less distraction
  • Lower Media Costs
  • Fewer New Product Launches
  • Share of voice: Other companies in your space or sector cut or stop – you now dominate, maximizing spend.
  • Response rates are up in some sectors … and down in others.

Furthermore, you need to address – not ignore – your target market’s fears and anxieties.  These can include

  • Another business shutdown
  • Unemployment
  • Stock market crash and volatility
  • Fear of government
  • Fear of uncertainty
  • Loss of income
  • Retirement at risk
  • Business at risk
  • Future at risk

In these conditions, think about selling prospects on future benefits.  In the end, customers are primarily concerned with …

  • Money
  • Comfort
  • Enjoyment
  • Health
  • Success
  • Recognition
  • Right choice
  • Security


Critical Question #3: Is My New Copy Still The Best It Can Be?

Despite all necessary changes, my copy still needs to be powerful and persuasive.  When revising, I need to ask myself:

  • Does it grab my attention right away?
  • Does it recognize self-interest/pain/fear?
  • Do I recognize immediately a good value proposition?
  • Is it written for me and me alone?
  • Do I feel the writer cares about me?
  • Do I feel the writer believes what he is saying?
  • Do I believe the writer?
  • Why should I buy now and not later?
  • Is there an alternative?
  • Do I feel safe/comfortable about responding?


Critical Question #4: Does my marketing plan support my business goals?

You should be checking the following periodically to make sure your business and marketing goals are fully aligned:

  • Your Situation / Target Audience
  • Your Marketing Budget
  • Your Advertising Message
  • Your Media Plan
  • Your Product Mix
  • Your Positioning / Branding
  • Your Competition

The economic recovery can be a great opportunity to redefine, reposition, and reinvent your company.

We have helped many companies navigate and dominate the market through the recession.  Let us help you.

If you’d like to learn more on how to do this, don’t hesitate to contact me at 310.212.5727 or email me at