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The four keys to SMB marketing in recessions

Right now, to say that Australian businesses face stiff economic headwinds is probably the understatement of the century. An already struggling economy and the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic have pushed the nation’s economy into a historic recession. For many small business owners, it could be the first recession they can remember – and it’s not going to
be pretty.

It also means that there are going to be a whole lot of small businesses with no historical reference to use in navigating their way through the economic pain to come.

They can, though, try to learn some lessons from other businesses who have survived recessions and apply them to the current situation. And without a doubt, the most important lesson to learn is that if there’s a single thing that will keep a business alive in a recession, it’s how well they manage their marketing efforts for the duration.

To help, here are the four keys for small businesses to successfully market themselves in a recession.

1. Invest in High-ROI Strategies

In brighter economic times, there’s nothing wrong with investing in marketing strategies aimed at grabbing the attention of consumers on the margins of your market. In a recession, though, such efforts should be the first ones to go.

Instead, the focus must be on high-ROI endeavours like content marketing, email marketing, and SEO. They’re the most likely to deliver bottom-line results at a time when that’s really all that counts. And, they’re the kinds of marketing that tend to focus on a business’s core audiences, who are the most likely to keep spending even as the recession cuts into their budgets.

2. Prioritize Remarketing

Under normal circumstances, a small business might not need to wring a sale out of every contact with a customer. But as previously stated, these are not normal circumstances. For that reason, it’s crucial right now for small businesses to try and close a sale with each and every potential customer that arrives as a result of the aforementioned marketing efforts. The key to that is remarketing.

Also known as retargeting, it’s a strategy that delivers ads and other follow-ups (emails, direct mail, etc.) to customers who didn’t convert during their first contact. Since they’ve already expressed an interest, they often need just a little push to make a purchase, and right now, every sale counts.

3. Analyse Everything

Since most of the high-ROI marketing strategies suited for recessions are digital, they come with the added bonus of being trackable and quantifiable.

And small businesses should take advantage of that at every turn. If they haven’t already gone all-in on marketing analytics, now’s the time to do it. It’s the only way to know exactly what marketing efforts are working, where improvements might be possible, and how best to allocate whatever limited marketing budgets are available.

Even if investments in analytics tools are required to get the process running, it’s worth every cent because the extra efficiency analytics creates will outstrip costs in short order.

4. Don’t Hesitate to Up-Skill

The present recession happened with such speed that most small businesses are bound to be flat-footed when responding to it. In fact, there’s data suggesting that many small businesses had already or were in the process of eliminating their in-house marketing teams.

Their decision to do so couldn’t have come at a worse time. In a recession, 3rd-party marketing firms can’t be trusted to prioritise ROI – they’re in business too, after all.

And that means small businesses will have little choice but to pull their marketing functions back in-house if they want to effectively manage their spending. For that reason, they shouldn’t hesitate to invest in up-skilling employees to handle the work.

Today, it’s possible to earn a Master’s level marketing degree completely online, and that’s the kind of high-level expertise that could mean the difference between surviving the recession and seeing a business collapse under the strain of the beleaguered economy.

Put It All Together

If you hadn’t noticed, all four of the recession marketing keys listed here revolve around a single idea: and that’s making the most out of every dollar spent.

Together, all four are meant to shift marketing budgets toward the most effective strategies, maximize sales among those the marketing reaches, ensure that every phase of the marketing cycle works as well as it can, and to put the right knowledge behind the efforts to keep everything running to perfection.

It’s as simple as that. And now all that small business owners have to do is put the pieces together and get to work – and they’ll come through the recession with flying colours.