In today’s world, many small businesses are having to make hard decisions about cutting costs. One area that small business owners tend to look at cutting first is their marketing budget. Marketing can be confusing and many small businesses don’t create a marketing plan or strategy. With all of the confusion surrounding marketing and advertising, it seems easier to cut the budget than make cuts in other areas. But should you cut marketing dollars in a recession?

Should you cut marketing dollars in a recession?

Investing in marketing is one of the smartest choices a business owner can make. How else do you tell your story and let people know that you exist and that your product is available if you don’t put effort into spreading that message? Cutting advertising dollars typically results in a decrease in sales, decreases the number of new customers, and may result in reducing the amount of returning customers as well.

I highly recommend not cutting your marketing budget entirely. It is not unreasonable to reduce your marketing spend and to focus those dollars on efforts that show the best return on investment (ROI). After all, customers are still out searching for your product. Even if they don’t have the means to purchase it at the moment, you still want your business to show up in those search results. If your competitor completely cut their marketing dollars and doesn’t show up, guess who the buyer is going to go to when they have the spending money? YOU.

Affordable Marketing Options

Let’s discuss some affordable marketing and advertising opportunities for when times are tough:

  • Use social media as a personal 1-1 interaction tool where you can build meaningful relationships with both current and potential customers. Did you know that 47% of United States consumers have a more favorable view of brands who respond to customer service questions or complaints on social media? Don’t ignore your social media channels!
  • Creating organic social media posts. This doesn’t mean push your products or services 24/7. There should be a mix of content that includes your products and information that your target audience will find useful or can relate to.
  • Utilize live broadcasts on social channels to connect with your audience.
  • Send emails to your client list.
  • Write helpful and informative blog posts (like the one you’re ready right now!).
  • Host a food drive or other event that takes minimal effort from the customer but creates goodwill throughout the community.
  • Targeted digital marketing campaigns done within your budget.
  • Communication is key during a recession. Keeping customers informed of changes, answering any questions they may have, and making them aware of your available products and services all makes for a happier, less frustrating experience for all involved. How many times have you stopped into a restaurant or store, only to find they had closed early? How frustrated were you during this experience? Maybe you had even checked their Facebook page or Google My Business listing to ensure that they were open? Only to arrive and find that the information was not accurate.

Small businesses may not have the staff or bandwidth to handle all of the above options, and that’s OK. Find what works best for you and your team and implement it in a strategic manner – giving 100%, being intentional and authentic. The results may surprise you.

Still need to cut marketing dollars? Ultimately, it’s your decision to make – just make sure you have a strategy in place and have done research on how to make cuts properly instead of making willy-nilly decisions!