Marketing in an economic turndown: stay the course

 As the cost of living crisis dampens consumer spend, marketing budgets across the country are likely to feel the squeeze. With a forecast for economic headwinds, companies will, rightly so, be looking at where they can reduce costs.  Marketing is often the first casualty. But studies have shown that such a knee-jerk reaction tends not to be the best approach for the long term success of a business and can do more harm than good.  Rather a considered reflection on where budgets can be better spent and to focus on how you can get more with less, marketing more efficiently.  
Digging a little deeper we can see why. 

  • Play the long game

Marketing budgets are often first for the chop when times are tight because their benefits are generally realised in the long rather than short term. So while a decrease on marketing spend may seem like a good plan, it doesn’t bode well for the longevity of your brand or your communication with customers, without which, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant to them. Your brand awareness will drop, and with it, your search engine ranking and brand loyalty. Instead, use the opportunity to review and revise your marketing spend – it’s a time to tune into customers and the impact the downturn is having on their buying behaviour, and adapt your communication accordingly. View marketing as an investment, not a cost. 

  • Exploit the quiet

If you’re considering scaling back your marketing efforts, you can bet your competitors are having similar thoughts – and many of them will have already made cutbacks, leaving plenty of room for you to fill the void and take the lead on attracting any customers they’ve left behind. People still spend money during a recession, and fewer competitors to choose from spells good news for your business. 

  • Focus on the clear winners

While marketing your well-loved, tried and tested products and services should certainly continue in a precarious economy, a time of reduced competition is ideal for bringing your brightest and best ideas into the spotlight too. Economic challenges can drive innovation, as entrepreneurs focus on how to do more with less, and a well-structured marketing budget should accommodate new as well as existing offerings. 

  • Seize the attention of a captive online audience 

With lower disposable income, people go out less, so the number of people accessing online content increases – good news for digital advertisers. Although a significant portion of your audience may not be buying now, it’s a chance to connect with key audiences, and build a relationship that will last a lot longer than the downturn. 

  • Adapt and thrive

Marketing during a financial crisis will always be challenging – not least because it goes against our instincts. Consumer spending changes drastically in difficult economic circumstances – and the most successful marketing changes in response, shifting messages and channels, re-packaging and reinventing value propositions.  Past recessions have shown us that companies who bolster their marketing efforts, rather than reduce them, are better placed to survive the slump, and come out stronger on the other side.  

This is a time not to stop spending money on marketing, but to change how you spend it, with a view to boosting efficiencies and maximising ROI. From researching customers and re-working a past success to creating compelling offers and price-sensitive portfolios, use this time as an opportunity to be there for new customers and maintain the loyalty of existing ones. 

Why cold calls leave us cold – and a few things to try instead

Picture the scene – it’s 6pm on a Thursday, I’m cooking dinner amidst the usual domestic chaos that is week-day teatime in a family of five. One child is trying to read me something from the latest book he has home from school, another is asking if I’ve seen his shin guards anywhere ahead of his football practice “IN HALF AN HOUR!!”, the third is exceeding the agreed amount of screen time in his bedroom. My phone rings. Like a fool, I answer it.  

A tired and slightly bored-sounding man at the other end introduces himself and after some incoherent rambling, explains he’s calling from a beer company we once bought from several years ago, on the ‘off-chance’ that we might be interested in making the most of a discount campaign they’re running to celebrate the company’s forthcoming birthday. I am at once irritated and baffled. Does anyone still say yes to this stuff?  

Suffice to say the call prompted not a beer purchase, but a mental list of all that is wrong with making cold calls in the 21st century. Outdated, annoying, intrusive, statistically proven to be unsustainable, damaging to a company’s reputation… the list goes on.  It got me thinking about what the misguided beverage seller could be doing instead though… 

  • Cold emails 

Cold emails are far more effective than cold calls, especially if you personalise them and spend time selecting the recipients. To pique readers’ interest, include a punchy or surprising subject line, and make your email about them rather than what you’re offering. Be clear but brief, concisely highlighting how your product or service helps to solve a problem. Some great examples of good and bad cold emails here. (The Best Cold Email I’ve Ever Received (and… | Proposify [Free Trial]) 

  • Monitor your web visitors’ behaviour 

By tracking when users are looking at certain pieces of content on your website, you can decide on the best time to reach out to them. Using tools like Google Analytics (insert link Create and manage custom alerts – Analytics Help ( you can receive mail notifications when people are browsing your site, then when you do reach out you know you’re contacting a warm lead who has already demonstrated an interest in your offering. 

  • Networking – virtual and IRL 

Virtual and in-person events are an excellent way of finding out about the needs of your customers and prospects. Rather than pitching your offering, use events as an opportunity to ask questions and engage with people’s answers – the more you ask, the better you’ll understand your target market. 

  • Online networking 

If social media was an effective tool for building relationships with prospective clients before the pandemic, in a post-pandemic world it’s essential. People browsing your content may leave questions and comments, giving you an opportunity to interact with potential leads. Crafting considered, insightful responses will show that you care, and help to position your business as a valuable resource or an authority in a particular field. But retain a focus on authenticity – if visitors share or comment on your content, avoid instantly offering a demo or free trial – let the relationship evolve naturally. You could also join industry groups on LinkedIn and Facebook and engage with prospects by liking, commenting on and sharing their posts, gradually building authority and earning trust in your field. More on how to become an online networking guru here: 10 Guaranteed Tips to Become an Online Networking Pro 

  • Online content 

Be active on forums related to your product or service. Platforms such as Quora and Reddit are a useful space in which to build awareness, authority, and trust. Browse different threads and identify places where you could share your expertise and answer others’ questions. Rather than pitching or selling, aim to be genuinely helpful, and only reference your product or service if it’s directly relevant. This will ensure your name is front-of-mind when they’re next looking for your kind of help. 

  • Word of mouth 

We all love a good recommendation. Word-of-mouth referrals act as powerful social proof that your product or service is a safe bet and reassures customers, they’re onto a good thing. Ask satisfied customers to leave you a positive testimonial – and be sure to share them online – or refer you to others who might benefit from your solution.  

  • Webinars 

Sharing your expertise via webinars is another way to reach potential customers. Collaborating with others in your industry and holding sessions with helpful and actionable content will help prospects see your business as an industry authority as well as a helpful source of information. They may then research your offering and consider purchasing it. 


Using carefully considered marketing and communications strategies, Instinct will help you communicate with your existing and potential customers to grow your business. From brand awareness, media relations and email marketing to copywriting and social content creation, our experienced team can provide the support you need. And not a cold call in sight. Get in touch to find out how we can help.