Viewpoint: Marketing essential during a recession • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine
Hallie Bram Kogelschatz

Viewpoint: Marketing essential during a recession

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Hallie Bram Kogelschatz
Hallie Bram Kogelschatz

When the last recession hit in 2008, many companies saw their sales plummet. But what did Amazon do that year? The retail giant launched a revolutionary product — the Kindle — that led to a 68 percent year-over-year sales increase.

Of course, we’re not all Amazon, and we don’t necessarily have the next industry-changing product or service waiting in our back pocket. But there are lessons from 2008 on how to — and why you should — market effectively during turbulent economic times.

The numbers make it clear: brands that invest in marketing efforts fare better when the economy sours compared to brands that don’t.

Research has found that brands that cut their marketing budgets typically take three to five years to recover equity losses resulting from that downtime. On the other hand, 60 percent of brands that increased their media investment during the last recession saw ROI improvements.

Looking ahead, a recent HubSpot survey showed that 47 percent of brands reported that their budgets would increase and 45 percent expect their budgets to stay the same in 2023.

So with that in mind, how do you best utilize your budget to drive results during a recession?

To answer this question, let’s take a look at four key initiatives your brand can dial in:

  1. Give voice to your goals. When you create alignment and awareness of your goals, you can be specific about what success looks like to you while ensuring all your team members know what role they play in the process of achieving these goals. Plus, this allows you and your team to celebrate these goals when they are achieved.
  2. Highlight the partnership between marketing and sales. Clearly articulate when key members of these departments need to step in and conduct tactical efforts toward achieving your stated goals.
  3. Create your marketing system. You might already have a marketing kit, templates or assets. However, it’s best that you take it a step further and use this as an opportunity to rededicate yourself to assessing your visual and brand voice, as well as considering how these fit into your broader brand guidelines. This positions your team to be aligned and consistent when you go to market with your brand.
  4. Streamline technology and operations. Through the implementation of common technology tools and processes across the board, you ensure all team members are aware of the process. You can also identify areas where this process can be improved.

Another important lesson to keep in mind is that it’s not always about how much money you’re spending. Instead, it might be worth focusing on the ways you’re spending it. Can you be more targeted in how you reach your audiences? Can you explore new data to see which channels outperform others?

The next question you’ll want to ask yourself might sound obvious. Who is your customer? This question becomes even more important during times of market turbulence, and it can’t be stressed enough the importance of re-examining this when the economy is in flux. Your customer may stay the same throughout these times, but what they need from you might change during recessionary times.

Here are some additional, critical questions we work through with our clients when challenges arise:

  • Do I have the right mix when it comes to mass media and targeted media?
  • Have I taken a look at the changing landscape of how my consumers are utilizing social media?
  • Should I be geotargeting my messages in certain areas to reach key geographic demographics?

Ultimately, you don’t have to, nor should you, navigate uncertain economic conditions alone. Now might be the most important time for you to lean into your relationship with a trusted agency.

To help guide your brand and achieve your goals, shark&minnow published a free marketing playbook to get you on the path to sustained success.

Cleveland, Ohio-based shark&minnow is an independent and women-owned, multi-disciplinary strategy and design consultancy specializing in branding, marketing, advertising, public relations, and audio and video production.


  • Hallie Bram Kogelschatz

    Hallie Bram Kogelschatz has worked on global, domestic, and local marketing campaigns for clients such as Napster, Cadillac, Stop Handgun Violence, Progressive Insurance, Cleveland Clinic, and KeyBank. In 2013, Hallie and Eric Kogelschatz founded shark&minnow, a strategy and design consultancy. Core offerings include research and insights, strategic planning, design and marketing communications.

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