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29 Marketing Tips for Driving Revenue in a Recession

Is it a recession? Depends on who you talk to.

Whatever it is, there are clear signs that the economy is taking a hit, and it may be this way for a while. Companies large and small are making layoff announcements, gas prices are still in flux, food prices have increased over 30% in some cases…

You don’t have to dig too deep to learn about the state of our economy, a down economy in fact that is driving a lot of business decisions.

SMBs and Enterprises are grappling with economic distress, sales and marketing teams are still expected to do more with fewer resources, customers need help, and the bills still have to be paid.

So what do you do?

“Failure is Not an Option”

I thought that phrase was some kind of credo for the Army Rangers, but it turns out it comes from the cinema classic, Apollo 13. Apparently script writers went to interview Flight Controller Jerry Bostick on what the people in NASA Mission Control are really like, and “one of their questions was ‘Weren’t there times when everybody, or at least a few people, just panicked?’ [His] answer was ‘No, when bad things happened, we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them.’”

Sometimes just purposing to press on and not fail can steady your nerves in trying times. A little dramatic for marketing, but maybe there’s some truth there.

But you still can’t add hours to the day, “just work harder,” or provide the same level of service, MQLs, reporting, etc. without the resources to support your sales and marketing work.

That’s where you have to get creative.

29 Marketing Tips for Driving Revenue in a Recession… Yours for the Taking 👇

Staying sticky

Stay in front of prospects and customers by offering something of value. One of the worst things you can do is go dark.

  • Know who you’re talking to – Prospects and customers may be struggling with different pain points than you’re used to seeing. How can you help?
  • Have a POV and share it – Steer away from just building content for SEO (that does matter but you should always keep SEO and engagement in balance). Offer insights and observations with a real perspective on a particular challenge prospects are facing.
  • Stay consistent – Show up, put in the reps, and stay in front of prospects and customers on social, email, and at in-person events.
  • Be creative – What’s a unique story you can tell? When was the last time you sent something to a prospect or client? Opt for something they might like instead of cheap company swag (does a fake Yeti really say a prospect is important?).
  • Send out a newsletter – It’s kind of shocking how many businesses don’t do this. One obstacle? Businesses think the newsletter is supposed to be about them, not their prospects and customers. What would they like to hear? How do your solutions intersect with their interests?

Drive revenue with existing customers

Look inside before looking outside. Happy customers will be more likely to buy from you, and it’s less expensive to retain customers than finding new ones.

  • Up sell – Intelligently. Nothing worse than indiscriminately sending a mass email to all customers and hoping for the best. Which customers would be best positioned to benefit from additional features?
  • Cross sell – They like X, but do they know about Y?
  • Deliver – The “boring basics” matter far more than you think. Is it on time and is it what they expected?
  • Improve reporting – If you offer goods or services that have some aspect of reporting baked in, figure out if there’s something you can easily improve. Wouldn’t that make customers feel appreciated?
  • Align on goals, value, and ROI – Help customers see the value of what they get with your company. Run QBRs with value and customer goals in mind.

Resource: Jobs-to-be-Done: A Framework for Customer Needs | by Tony Ulwick | JTBD + Outcome-Driven Innovation

Combine Outbound and Inbound sales and marketing techniques

Opt for a “both-and” approach to sales and marketing. Inbound marketing is the magnetic pull of prospects toward your company, and outbound is the consultative outreach – you can’t neglect either.

  • “Speak to the pain” email and social campaign – Identify 3-5 pain points your prospects are feeling now (not 6 months ago, not a year ago) and create an email series exploring how your solution helps.
  • Loom – Do you use video in your sales and marketing outreach?
  • Cold calls – Yep. Get a list together, be casual and helpful, and go for it.
  • Networking – Who haven’t you talked to in a while? How can you or your sales team get in front of new people this week? What events should you be attending?
  • Referrals – Identify your happiest customers. They likely know people just like them.
  • Pare down offerings or create new ones for budget conscious buyers – What could you repackage quickly and effectively to meet the needs of new customers? Could you run a quarterly special? Waive an onboarding fee?
  • Build intentional marketing automations with special offersTech and automations can help. Start with a realistic plan and use content and email workflows to nurture existing leads to a specific conversion goal. Sometimes a special offer at the end of the sequence might be just what they’re waiting for.

Hmmm, 🧐 a lot of these tips have questions attached. Need help answering them? Setup a no-hassle 30 min strategy session with Oldacre Agency.

Reduce churn (keep existing customers)

Churn happens for a number of reasons, but it can be prevented. It’s important in a recession to not lose sight of your customer base.

  • Run an NPS campaign and monitor churn potential – It’s easier than ever to gauge customer satisfaction at scale. Run an NPS survey to see who’s happy and who’s not. Detractors are predicted to churn (customers scoring your business with a 0-6). What can you do to stop that from happening?
  • Customer delight – Now is a great time to let customers know you appreciate them. From simple thank you emails to swag and gift cards, there has to be some way to say “thanks.” Consider in-app messages if you run a SaaS business, offer a free month of access to an upgraded feature, or record a quick video on Loom saying thanks.
  • Stay in communication – It’s easy to focus on the internals in a down economy. That’s necessary, but someone has to be tasked with being the voice of the customer and ensuring your company is regularly communicating with them.
  • Personal calls and handwritten notes to existing customers – The personal touch goes a long way.

Resource: How to Market in a Downturn (Harvard Business Review, 2022)

Prepare for the future

Recessions haven’t lasted forever in the US. What comes next?

  • Revise budgets – Your sales and marketing budget may or may not have reallocation opportunities built in. Take some time to run the numbers, compare budget to actuals, and make adjustments that better align with agreed upon goals.
  • Draft a near-term and long-term strategy – How will you now get from point A to B? Given you may have shed some sales and marketing personnel as part of a RIF in 2022 (or you were never fully staffed), it’s smart to think about how marketing goals will be accomplished. Less hands? Tech, automation, and contracted resources may be just what you need.
  • SEO – Do some keyword research, see what people are looking for, write content that offers help and solutions to pain points your target customers are facing. This free marketing tactic could better position you to reap the benefits of increased awareness as the economy picks back up.
  • Build something new and set a deadline on the horizon to talk about it – Innovate now? In a recession? Good point. Here’s a question: when is it a comfortable time to innovate? Maybe right now an inflection point is coming into focus, and your company has an opportunity to be first to market, be a disruptor, or improve what you’re already excelling at.
  • Reviews campaign – This one may have been on the back burner for a while. Leverage social proof by running a marketing campaign aimed at gathering reviews. Be on the lookout for case study material, or turn these into pull-quotes on your website and landing pages.
  • Build content for post-recession campaigns – You know what everyone will be doing when they feel more comfortable about the economy? SALES AND MARKETING. Better to prep now and beat the competition to the punch.
  • Update website content – Haven’t touched your website since 2020? You’re not alone. Why not spin up a few projects to update high-value pages or add some lead capturing mechanisms to your site?
  • Build comparison sheets – Price matters in a recession. If you’ve never built comparison sheets, now might be a great time to get some intelligence from sales and craft a simple one-pager that highlights your value over your primary competitor.

Hang in there

We’re working in challenging times. But there’s plenty you can do to stay engaged with prospects and customers. A great place to start is to try to apply all 29 tips and tactics simultaneously. 


A better place to start is to pick something that stood out to you, vet the idea internally, and run a test. Gather some data and use that information to drive your business forward… even in a recession.

Thanks for reading!

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