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We’ve been talking about marketing during a slow economy or recession and what you need to know. We’ve covered:

But, now comes an important piece: Putting it all together to build your marketing plan for any economy, including a recession.

We know, it’s not the most exciting topic to cover, but it’s essential to have a plan in place for any situation.

We’ll try to make it as exciting as we can!

First, Why Should I Have a Marketing Plan for a Slow Economy?

Great question. At the beginning of the year, many experts said that we likely wouldn’t see a recession this year, but, the economy definitely looks different than it did at the start of 2020.

So, the answer is yes — you need a marketing plan for a slow economy — for a few reasons:

  1. We’re in a difficult economic situation. The economy has taken a downturn, and while it’s starting to pick back up, the pandemic has left many businesses struggling, which is why a marketing plan on a budget is important. Plus:
  2. It’s always smart to have a contingency plan in place. If this situation has taught us anything, it’s that you want to be prepared and know what you need to do to keep your marketing going and your business running. And, if you have a plan in place now, you can keep building on that plan year-over-year so you’re always ready.
  3. You can build your growth plan. If the economy does pick up and if your business is doing well now, then you don’t simply want to keep your business running, you want it to grow. So, as you’re building your marketing plan on a budget, you can also build your marketing plan for growth.

It’s kind of like when you’re planning your vacation — you have your ideal state of what your vacation will look like: mornings walking the beach, afternoons by the pool, evenings enjoying the nightlife in the area. But then you probably have a plan in case it rains one of those days — go to a movie or find a local museum to visit. Your contingency plan isn’t your ideal, but you know what to do when it rains to still enjoy your vacation.

Related: Download our 30-60-90-Day Marketing Planning Guide

Now, What Should Your Marketing Plan Look Like?

We all agree: a marketing plan for a slow economy is a good idea (right?). So, now comes the hard(ish) part: What does that strategy look like?

Here are a few questions to help you answer that:

  1. What are you doing now that’s absolutely working for you? These could be tactics that are driving leads, getting your business name out there, making people excited, and more. Basically, if you stopped this, it could harm your business.
  2. What can you not stop doing? This could be something like your SEO — you’re at a good place and you don’t want your performance to fall.
  3. Where are some places you could trim your budget? Do you have a robust search marketing budget that you could consider pulling back on or a print ads budget that you could trim?
  4. What would your customers miss? Are there things your business does that your customers love — maybe you sponsor a little league baseball team or hold a quarterly event. You’re going to want to keep your customers loyal, especially during a slower economy, so think about what they love. You might even consider talking to some of them about it.

Once you have this list, you can start to organize it into a concrete plan. If you’re working with a marketing partner, they can help you with this process as well by identifying the tactics that are working best for you and providing suggestions for how to move forward.

Related: Get tips for better marketing during inflation.

Why You Shouldn’t Stop your Marketing

When business slows down, it’s common for business owners and C-level executives to cut the marketing budget first. You’re trying to keep the business running, so why do you need to manage your social media sites?

It makes sense logically, but realistically, it’s a mistake. Digital marketing is what helps your business get in front of new consumers, engage with existing customers, and build a brand for your business online. Without that outreach, connection, and engagement, you can start to see your business slowing even faster than if you simply pulled back on a few tactics.

Your marketing plan is like a little puppy — you’ve trained it (by choosing the right tactics), invested in it, (probably been frustrated with it at times), and been glad you have it. You don’t want to neglect your puppy! Or give him away ?.

Okay, so that was an extreme example — but, when you invest in a marketing plan, you’re building on your success and making progress toward your goals. If you stop investing in marketing, you’ll likely lose a lot of the progress you made, and when you start marketing your business again, you’ll have to start at square one. No one wants that.

Related: 4 Real Examples of Businesses Thriving Through the Coronavirus Pandemic

Building a Solid Foundation Now

As you start to think about your marketing plan on a budget, it’s important to think about the foundation of your marketing plan now. There are tactics you can invest in that can help you when and if the time comes to pull back on some of your marketing.

Some of these tactics include building a website that’s not only mobile-friendly but also optimized for voice search. We know that voice search isn’t just the future — it’s happening (and growing) now, so by optimizing your website and web presence for voice search, you can future-proof your marketing a bit.

Another tactic relates to your website: SEO. You want your website to show in search engines for relevant searches, right? Then you need SEO.

Managed local listings and built-out social media pages are two other tactics that can help build a strong marketing foundation. Local listings help you get found in search results and in apps and give you an opportunity to control what consumers see about your business. Built-out social media pages that help you build a robust online community can help you tell your unique brand story, engage with your customers, and attract new consumers to your business.

Luckily, a strong website, local SEO, local listings, and built-out social media sites all go hand-in-hand to build a solid online presence that supports your other marketing tactics, like paid search marketing ads, targeted display ads, and more.

Related: 5-Minute Web Presence Check: How Do You Really Look Online?

We’re not here to alarm, just to prepare. We want every business owner and marketer to feel like they’re ready to take on any challenge — whether that’s a bad review or a bad economy. We’d love to talk with you about how we can partner to build a marketing plan that’s right for your budget — reach out today.

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Originally published 2/4/2020. Updated 8/7/2020 to reflect changing economic climate.

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