10 Marketing Tips For The Recession


Depending on who you talk to, or what you read, or if Mercury goes into retrograde on Halloween, we are due for a recession. Despite all of the best efforts of economists to predict them, we know recessions occur every ten years or so and the last one started in 2008. It might be next month. It might be next year. But as they say in Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming.” 



Having survived many recessions during my half-century on this planet, I have devised ten solid tips on marketing during a recession. I usually charge a lot of money for this kind of advice, so listen up people.




1. Cut the right costs.


Despite what you read in the news, remember a recession is temporary and your business is permanent. Making decisions in panic-mode rarely ever benefits you long-term. Think about what happens if one of your stocks drops 25% in one day — if you panic and sell the stock, then you’ve lost money. Smart people buy more stock on a dip. The people in your organization want to know their leader is cool, calm, and collected….and prepared for the future.



2. Cut the right costs.


Another way people hit the panic button is by cutting spending. Yes, it’s okay to cut spending, but not on marketing. Think about marketing as an investment instead of a cost and you may be less likely to cut it. There are effective ways to save money that don’t undermine your sales, usually administrative and operational expenses. You can also make inventory adjustments or secure short-term financial instruments. But never, never, never cut your marketing budget in half because CNN says, “It’s official, we’re in a recession.”



3. Turn lemons into lemonade.


Maintaining a positive outlook is especially important when times are tough. If life hands you a bowl of lemons, you should make lemonade. Promote your company in a positive way. Post job openings, successes, and happy, smiling faces on social media. Let everyone know they might be feeling the pinch, but all is well at your place. Customers are attracted to success and repelled by failure. 



4. Grow market share.


A recession is bad news for everyone. It’s the great equalizer. What you do during a recession can affect you for years to come. When everyone else is cutting their marketing budget and retreating from the fight, why not get aggressive and try to grow your market share? Recessions are just an opportunity to grow market share, especially when you take customers from the competition.



5. Feel their pain.


Empathize with your customers and clients and let them know that the economic environment has affected you too. If you have a sale, let your customers know you’re doing this to help them out, as opposed to getting rid of old inventory. “We’re in this together, so we’re rolling back prices/adding inventory/rolling out new services, etc. to help you.” It can be a powerful message.



6. Look for value.


A recession affects the media too. Some of the best prices you’ll ever get for print, broadcast, outdoor or digital media will be during a recession. It’s a great time to experiment with new forms of marketing and your position as a negotiator is strengthened when you’re buying their limited inventory. 



7. Refocus on your customers.


In times of plenty, sometimes we forget to maintain relationships with our best customers. A recession gives you the opportunity to reconnect and refocus on your core customers. This serves two purposes: 1) You secure your base clientele by securing those relationships and 2) You can often get more sales from your existing clients by simply reevaluating their wants and needs.



8. Double down on brand awareness.


“No one ever bought a product or service they never heard of” a wise man once told me (Harry Garmon). It’s easier to create more brand awareness during a recession because many of your competitors are hiding their heads in the sand like an ostrich. Do more awareness marketing. Host more events and attend every networking group function you can find. Wrap your vehicle with your company name. Create new business cards (but be sure to give them to people — if you find yourself with a full box of cards at the end of the recession, you weren’t paying attention.) 



9. Connect the dots.


A recession is a good time to look at your business goals and see if your marketing aligns with them. Take the time to connect the dots. For example, if 60% of your customers only buy one product from you, be sure to show them that you have other products available — through email, social media, on your website, or even an insert in their monthly bill. When new customers aren’t coming in, be sure to maximize sales with your existing clients.



10. Seek professional help.


Whether you are in a recession or not, it’s probably a good idea to “seek professional help.” Odds are you’re an excellent widget manufacturer, but you probably are not good at marketing. When you need expertise in finances, you should hire a CPA. When you need good legal advice, you should hire a lawyer. DIY marketing is usually not a good idea. Outsourcing your marketing is always a good idea, recession or not.


Call us before the next recession. Operators are standing by. 😉



Monday, October 21 – #DanceTheNidaWay



The Madison+Main-iacs attended another beautiful wedding this past weekend at The Glasgow Farm near Fredericksburg. It was in celebration of Account Executive Allison “Another Glass of Prosecco” Nida and her brand new husband Corey. Here’s a pic of the team with the lovely bride. Someone had to snap the shot.




Tuesday, October 22 – Taking Care Of Business


I was still catching up on emails Tuesday when Director of Marketing and Business Development Leanne Ferry and Art Director Carissa Ghaffari brought me some new ideas for agency biz dev. We are making new digital business cards, with our info on them and ideas inside. The card is the same size as a credit card but includes a pop-out USB drive that holds a few gigabytes.








Wednesday, October 23 – CROCKtoberfest Was A Success



Special thanks to all of our clients, partners, and friends who attended our 10th Annual Chili Cook-Off, CROCKtoberfest. Everyone did a great job on their chili entries and celebrity judges Melissa Chase of 103.7 Play’s Mornings with Melissa & Jack and Bob Black and Andrew Wallace of ESPN Radio had a hard time deciding the winners.


For the second year in a row, John McClung of State Farm took home the first-place prize of $100 cold, hard cash and a magnificent trophy. Graphic Designer and part-time cake boss Erin “Ready To Give Birth” Rebmann took second-place with a very creative dessert chili. Director of Communications Kent “Duck Dynasty” Brockwell loaded up his chili with everything kind of meat except duck and took home a third-place trophy and set of cheap steak knives from the Dollar Store. Director of Account Services Kaitlin “Fahrvergnügen” Thomas decided to go all-in on the Octoberfest theme and won the People’s Choice Award.





Thursday, October 24 – Vote For The Best



The Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine has just launched its “Best of the Blue Ridge” contest. It began yesterday and runs through November 7. Be sure to vote for Bowman Brothers Small Batch for Best Spirit and Bold Rock Hard Cider for Best Cidery. You can vote once per day. #BoldBrandsWin


Enter here —> https://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/best-blue-ridge-2020/


We were honored to host our friends from The Doorways yesterday for a strategic planning session we call CORE. CEO Stacy Brinkley and her talented marketing and development team members dropped by Madison+Main’s Worldwide HQ to work with the leaders of our creative, marketing, and communications teams. Formerly Hospital Hospitality House, The Doorways provides lodging and support for patients who need to be close to the hospital but not far from the feeling of home. Donate today to help provide lodging, meals, and other support services to families who are in medical crisis.

Friday, October 25 – Swole Brands Win




We were pumped to create this new and uplifting brochure for our client Williamsburg Landing. It features their new state-of-the-art health club and spa. I almost canceled my membership to Gold’s Gym after seeing their five-star facility but I’m not old enough to join. If your company’s marketing needs to get whipped back into shape, you know who to call, and it’s not the Ghostbusters.





A Few of Our Favorite Events


Huntington Learning Center Workshop: A Parent’s Survival Guide


Huntington Learning Center | Richmond, VA


October 26, 2019 | 3 p.m. – 4 p.m.


If homework time is becoming tougher and tougher, it may be time to take a different strategy. Join us at Huntington Learning Center of Richmond for the free one-hour workshop designed to empower today’s busy parents to help their child perform better in school and improve homework performance. Franchise owner, Larry Frank, will lead the workshop, followed by a 30-minute Q&A session. RSVP today by calling (804) 729-5371.



Flight & Fright Night


A. Smith Bowman Distillery | Fredericksburg, VA


October 26, 2019 | 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.


Ready for some spooky, adults-only, pre-Halloween fun? A. Smith Bowman Distillery is bringing back its popular Flight & Fright Night, which showcases the Distillery in a completely different light. The evening kicks off with a lantern-lit tour of the Distillery, followed by a screening of the 1960 Halloween classic, Psycho, and a fun costume contest! Tickets must be purchased in advance and are $35 per person or $65 for two.




Got an upcoming event you want to share? Can we come? Send us the deets!




“It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.”

— Harry S. Truman