Don’t Switch Off: Marketing in a Recession 101

Mark Shipley of fenti Marketing explains how change brings opportunities for savvy business leaders.

Overheads are on the rise. Customers are tightening their purse strings. Cash reserves are dwindling. In years gone by, when times were tough, the instinct to batten down the hatches and weather the storm has worked for some. Not anymore.

Today, business never sleeps. Regardless of what sector you’re in, hiding away simply means you miss out when the green shoots appear and that market share you’ve worked so hard to grow, will shrink.

Every economic downturn has its winners and losers. Change always brings opportunities for savvy business leaders with foresight. If you have confidence in your business, products and services, team, and customers, now is the time to expand your market share.

Throughout the last 11 years, fenti Marketing has witnessed the effects of what happens when a business switches its marketing off.

Business doesn’t just stop in recession, and neither should marketing. Today’s buyers are millennials – some of whom we wish a happy 41st birthday this year – and the earliest Gen Z digital natives.

Consumers often see their suppliers as part of a value chain, so named because every partner is expected to contribute value to a production or purchase process. Today’s generation of business buyers knows that competing on price is just a race to the bottom and are wary of such tactics.

If you want to sell to this generation of the industrial buyer, added-value services are where the competitive edge lies. Millennials expect the standard of service they receive in their personal life to extend to their working life.

You might be reading this thinking, ‘yeah, we do offer our customers an outstanding service.’ If you don’t shout about how great your products and services are, no one will know you exist, especially those new customers you’re eager to build a lasting relationship with.

In fenti Marketing’s experience working with both B2B and B2C businesses, weathering the storm is about consistency. One of their B2B clients over in the U.S. refers to the drip-drip effect when they are reviewing the results of a campaign.

They work out exactly who they want to market to and map out their ‘watering holes’ and influencers plus they keep the conversation going at key customer touch-points. Exposure to their clients’ consistent messaging accumulates over time, turning into a conversation with high-buyer intent.

Throughout the pandemic, many digital marketing tools proved to be a low-cost option for fenti Marketing clients which they could leave them to manage on their behalf: email, social media, advertising, and pay-per-click (Google Ads). The other side of the success story for fenti’s savvy clients was maintaining a healthy and engaging website. Working to outperform their competitor websites paid dividends during and after the worst of the pandemic.


At fenti, they learn from the best and their clients comprise some of the city’s most highly regarded business leaders. A forward-thinking approach means they came out of each lockdown busier than ever, with their order books healthier than ever.

Almost all of their clients were able to retain their employees and loyal customers while building relationships with new customers, thanks to the drip-drip effect of their marketing campaigns.

Mark’s Recession-proofing Tips:

Get your accounts in order

Keep close to your clients and especially those persistent late payers. Make sure you work with them to keep the cash coming in and keep a close eye on costs. Be ready to speculate and accumulate.

Work with the business community

A bit of back-scratching goes a long way. You may be able to share contacts and identify opportunities for each other. There’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes on a challenge. Have a
catch-up over a coffee.

Your website is a valuable asset

I don’t want to bore you with tech talk but keeping your site healthy and engaging for visitors can mean the difference to your brand showing up on page one of Google rather than languishing on page two, or worse.

The lion’s share of voice

If you book them, they will come. Maintain or even upscale your marketing efforts. Many of your competitors will lose their nerve, so there is a tendency for advertising costs to lower during a recession. Have confidence in your value proposition and keep your brand
front of mind

Don’t ask, don’t get

Be cheeky! If someone is offering help and advice, snap their arm off. You don’t know what you don’t know, so draw on all the experiences around you. I have learned so much from my clients over the years and whenever they have offered business advice, I have run with it and usually marvel at the results.

About fenti Marketing

fenti are a cross-media digital marketing agency in Sheffield. They nurture and protect your brand at every customer touchpoint. Their purpose is to create.