What To Do With Your Marketing Budget During A Recession

May 11, 2020

Let me get this out of the way:

Yes; we are a marketing agency making the argument that you should maintain (if not increase) your marketing budget during a recession.

That may sound crazy or even biased but hear me out…

During tough times like these, it’s difficult for a business owner to think about anything other than just paying the bills. The marketing budget is the last thing on anyone’s mind, in fact, it’s often the first cost that gets slashed.

The decision to cut the marketing budget makes complete, logical sense.
Operating a business is difficult in “normal” economic conditions so when times get tough, survival is key.

But let’s rethink that… let’s challenge the narrative that tough times will inevitably lead to all of our businesses failing (and total economic ruin). Better yet, let’s prove that narrative wrong.

Man using scissors to remove the word can't to read I can do it concept for self belief, positive attitude and motivation

Challenge #1:

If everyone is struggling and everyone is cutting their marketing budget; is that not the ideal time to spend more money on marketing?

If your business can afford it, you should maintain or even increase your marketing spend.
This is of course easier said than done, but if your business is in a relatively healthy cash position, you should see this as a big opportunity to acquire market share.

Consider the market forces at play here – think supply and demand.
Less businesses spending money on marketing will create an opportunity for your business to grab a larger share of consumer’s attention for the same price (or less – supply and demand works for ad bidding, too).

Some additional perspective on grabbing a larger share of consumer’s attention:
Yes, a recession is bad, but (from a marketing/attention perspective) it also means people are spending a lot more time at home in front of a screen.

Challenge #2:

Economic uncertainty does make life and business more difficult but it also creates plenty of opportunities – why are we focusing on surviving and not thriving?

I don’t mean to sound like a motivational speaker but I want to challenge you with some optimism…

pinocchio motivational speaker geico commercial

The average person will struggle through this but you are not “average” – you are a business owner who has put your blood, sweat & tears into building your business.
You would not still be reading this if you weren’t looking for opportunities to thrive… challenges like these are your time to shine!

Yes, many businesses will fail but the ones that do survive will be much stronger for it.
“… [a business] that deploys a specific combination of defensive and offensive moves has the highest probability—37%—of breaking away from the pack. These companies reduce costs selectively by focusing more on operational efficiency than their rivals do, even as they invest relatively comprehensively in the future by spending on marketing, R&D, and new assets.” – Harvard Business Review article (by Ranjay Gulati, Nitin Nohria and Franz Wohlgezogen)

Hopefully this got you to rethink some common beliefs but if I haven’t done a good job motivating you to take charge of your future then I’ll hand it over to Marc Andreesson to challenge you to BUILD!


Greg Kallinger

Director of Business Operations
OM Performance Marketers

As the leader of Business Operations for OM, Greg mostly works behind the scenes helping to create scalable systems and processes that enable the team to focus on solving their client’s challenges. His career experience stretches across functions (finance, planning and operations) and large corporations (Lockheed Martin and CHEP) where he has found his passion for using data to simplify and solve problems that achieve results. When he isn’t working, he’s outside running, biking or swimming.

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