NEW! Listen to article

When they face a recession, businesses try to reduce costs wherever they can. Unfortunately, that often results in cutting their digital marketing agency loose.

Couple that with potential clients' holding their purse strings a little tighter, and it's rough sailing for any agency.

The seemingly lose-lose situation prompts the question: Is it worth it to market your agency during times of uncertainty?

The answer is yes, but you need to be smart about it. How your agency is marketed during a recession depends on your workload and your actions with clients. The ads you secured or shiny new services you offered will be less important. When a recession hits, it's time for agencies to hunker down and focus on retaining the high-quality clients that will hold them steady in a storm.

That means working with the clients you have and offering them personalized solutions that best fit their needs. It also means taking a hard look at what isn't working. Where can you slim down? What services do you offer that don't actually provide much for your clients?

There are plenty of things to avoid when marketing during a recession, but the core of the idea is this: Focus on your clients and let your work speak for itself.

Look at how your clients are behaving

Your best marketing tool? Your current clients.

Every company will react differently to a recession, and agencies should respond accordingly. A meal prep company may be concerned with rising food costs, whereas banks won't likely be sweating the price of bacon.

Understanding your client's needs is the difference between drowning in a recession and treading water.

Put yourself in your clients' shoes and understand their goals for the next several months. Understand how they prefer to generate leads and how they're reaching new customers. What new pain points are they discovering? How can you help address them?

Offer personalized solutions that fit the client's needs, and tackle those concerns.

Perhaps your meal prep client could start a newsletter about affordable family dinners, or a banking client could share budgeting tools for customers on social media. Those tactics have the benefit of tackling recession concerns while being cost-effective for the client.

Take your client's specific issues and run with them. Doing so not only keeps them happy but also might make them happy enough to talk about your great work with others.

A recession is also a good time to publish case studies online, either via Social media or the company blog, to show new potential clients how you're working through challenging times. Ask your happy clients whether they would be willing to do a testimonial. Consider using social media to highlight your wins.

Focusing on retaining high-value customers during difficult times is always a good way to market your success story. In the end, happy customers create better business.

Find out what services aren't actually delivering results

Businesses of all kinds make the mistake of trying to be everything for everyone, but that doesn't mean your agency has to. A recession is the time to find your unique selling point, get niche with what you do, and do it well.

Take a hard look at your services to figure out what's actually delivering results. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What services do you offer that aren't doing much for your clients?
  • How many conversions—not just leads—did you successfully acquire in previous campaigns?
  • What was the cost per lead?
  • Does that cost justify the conversion rate?
  • Was there a marked benefit to the company?
  • Did customer engagement increase?
  • Did your client receive more positive reviews?
  • How could you better optimize the next campaign?

Perhaps you offer social media scheduling, but most of your clients either have someone internal or aren't as interested in the service. You might have also received feedback that your clients would prefer to spend more time on email marketing over blogging.

Taking an audit of your services to understand what's working and what's not can better help you prepare for when the economy inevitably bounces back.

Also, take a look at your workflows. If the content creation for your clients is taking too long, you may be eating more of the cost than you should. Consider streamlining the process to minimize edits and get content out faster, leaning on the info you gathered with your clients earlier. Technology investments are perfect at this time; anything that can make your agency more efficient and scale faster is a win, recession or not.

Why do all of this when you're trying to market? By optimizing your agency, you allow your team members to dedicate the best of their efforts to retaining those high-quality clients. Stressed and tired employees make stressed and tired work. Give your team the space to succeed, and current clients will be happier and willing to spread the word about your capabilities.

Note that paid advertising is expensive—and not always the answer

Some problems can be solved by throwing money at them. But marketing in a recession is not the right time for that approach.

You may be tempted to splurge on a sexy TikTok video or a splashy Facebook ad, but resist. For one, it's entirely possible that your clients aren't coming from Facebook or TikTok at all. Moreover, advertising makes sense only if you're using the channels that your audience is already on.

Before you go dropping cash unnecessarily, find out where your target audiences are and use that info.

Organic outreach is your best friend during a recession. It's a far better (and less expensive) practice to ensure your agency is set up for organic success. That means SEO, including keyword optimization and accurate and strategic meta tags.

As the recession continues, customers will start looking at services only when they truly need them. So if your website is clear, optimized, and organized, they're going to find you quickly, and they'll be that much more likely to consider your services. Those are the kind of high-quality clientele that will likely result in higher conversions and better bottom-line impact.

4. Make the best of it

Recessions are never easy, no matter how prepared you are for them. They can, however, force your agency to become more efficient and effective, provided you're smart about it.

The trick to thriving during lean times is understanding the optimal approach to the market, and that means allowing your agency to take the time to figure out exactly what that looks like.

By understanding what your clients need, how you can meet those needs, and taking the time to optimize your workflows, you stand a much better chance of surviving the unknowns of a market downturn.

More Resources on How to Market Your Agency

What Brands Value in Marketing Agency Pitches

The Four Benchmarks of an Agency's Life Cycle—And How to Profit From Them

How Agencies Reach Potential Clients

Enter your email address to continue reading

How to Market Your Agency During a Recession

Don't's free!

Already a member? Sign in now.

Sign in with your preferred account, below.

Did you like this article?
Know someone who would enjoy it too? Share with your friends, free of charge, no sign up required! Simply share this link, and they will get instant access…
  • Copy Link

  • Email

  • Twitter

  • Facebook

  • Pinterest

  • Linkedin

  • AI


image of Itai Sadan

Itai Sadan is the CEO and a co‐founder of Duda, a professional website builder for digital marketing agencies.

Twitter: @itaisadan

LinkedIn: Itai Sadan