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5 tips to make the most of your marketing budget in a recession

By Kathryn Hawkins. Content Marketing
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Credit:  Eucalypt, LLC | DALL.E 2

Focus on these five tactics for building a sustainable plan to help you bring in new customers during tough economic times.

These days, economic news has been grim. The inflation rate is the highest it’s been in 40 years, the stock market has been sinking, and large companies like Coinbase are laying off up to 20% of their employees – with many more layoffs likely to come in the upcoming months.

If you’re a business owner or marketing leader, you know that means it’s definitely not the time to stop your marketing efforts.

But how can you build a sustainable marketing plan without spending money you’ll need for day-to-day operating costs?

Try out these tips to help you master marketing during leaner times.

Transition budget from ad spend into content creation

When times are good, you can afford to pour money into digital ad campaigns across Facebook, Google, and other ad platforms to build brand visibility, and may not be as concerned with immediate ROI on your spend.

Content marketing is 62% cheaper than traditional marketing, yet it generates three times more leads – making it an ideal avenue for your marketing spend during uncertain times, and beyond.

But when profit margins are tighter, you’ll need to look at all of your campaign spend with more scrutiny.

Take the time to audit your ad spend and optimize budget against your top-performing channels and campaigns. Then, look at what you’re spending on campaigns that aren’t performing so well, and look for other ways to repurpose those funds.

One of the most effective ways to do that is to invest in content marketing assets. Instead of spending $5,000 or $10,000 per month on digital ads to get viewers to your site, you can spend the same budget on ongoing content creation that will organically pull in an audience month after month. You can develop many assets quickly by repurposing existing content, such as webinars and slide deks, where possible – converting the content into blog posts, infographics, ebooks, white papers, and more.

With effective SEO optimization and social media promotion, you’ll be able to increase the amount of viewers to your older articles over time, so that your content efforts are sustainably building traffic with no additional spend. If you want to jump-start your efforts, putting a paid “boost” behind your content can help you get initial traction to your pieces – and even encourage them to sign up for a newsletter or special offer, so that you’ll be able to market directly to your audience without spending money to market on an external platform.

Content marketing is 62% cheaper than traditional marketing, yet it generates three times more leads – making it an ideal avenue for your marketing spend during uncertain times, and beyond.

Build a focused thought leadership strategy

When it comes to content marketing, don’t focus solely on your own channels. By building a focused PR and thought leadership strategy, you can identify external channels and publications where you can both expand your audience, and drive new backlinks – which will, in turn, drive new organic traffic to your website for months and years to come.

Look for opportunities to use HARO and other PR services to respond to journalist inquiries that align with your brand, and create a plan for guest posting on external sites, as well as larger self-publishing platforms like LinkedIn and Medium.

By maximizing your brand’s exposure across multiple channels, you’ll be able to reach new audiences and establish your expertise without spending any additional money on marketing – building trust that will help you engage with new and existing audiences alike.

Maximize customer reviews and testimonials

Social proof is the most powerful form of marketing – and the good news is, it’s free.

“Social proof” refers to customer reviews, case studies, and testimonials that tell the story of a customer’s experience with your brand. They may be shared directly on your website, on social media, or on third-party reviews sites – and they play a powerful role in convincing a customer to make a purchase. In fact, 91% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.

To make social proof a core part of your marketing strategy, encourage customers to leave a review or testimonial immediately after a positive interaction with your brand, or after they receive a product from you.

For simple transactions, customers can fill out a self-service review form – but for more complex and customized interactions, it can be helpful to showcase the story with a more detailed case study that spotlights metrics of success, or even a video testimonial, as in this example from our client, Loop.

You can also encourage customers to add testimonials on verified third-party reviews sites. Personally speaking, we’ve encouraged many of our clients to share their experience with our agency on the B2B reviews site Clutch, and have received many great leads and new business opportunities over the years as a result of our 22 verified reviews there.

Focus on agency support rather than adding headcount

Finally, when your predicted revenue is uncertain, the last thing you want to do is focus on adding headcount to your marketing team, knowing that you may well need to lay off new hires within months of their start date.

Instead, focus on finding an agency that can support you with a shorter term contract that you can extend as needed. At Eucalypt, our minimum contract period is typically three months – from there, we’ll commit to our existing rates and availability for anywhere up to a year, so that you’ll be able to build a collaboration with us that fits your needs and budget at any given time, working as an extension of your in-house team.

An agency can provide support with building or revamping your overall marketing strategy, managing editorial and marketing workflow for your own team and freelancers, producing your editorial content, supplementing your in-house content production, and many other initiatives. With an agency that has diverse skill sets across SEO, marketing, PR, graphic design, and other disciplines, you’ll be able to get fractional support to fit all of your marketing needs for far less than you’d pay to fill each of those roles independently.

Build agility into your marketing plan

Responding to changing economic conditions means that it’s important to be able to pivot your strategy as needed.

Losing customers for one product line? Kill that line and launch another that’s aimed at the demographic you’re seeing the most success with.

The same is true of your marketing strategy: It’s important that you have the ability to look at the industry and economic landscape to understand when to make changes. A 12-month marketing calendar doesn’t cut it anymore.

Instead, you need to be able to optimize your spend based on performance and changing factors around you. At Eucalypt, we use a highly effective credit-based system that empowers our clients to easily prioritize work based on changing scenarios – an ideal solution for tougher economic times, but also a good fit for any organization that prides itself on staying ahead of the curve.

While tighter times represent a good opportunity to shift the way you think about marketing, adopting a sustainable, agile strategy is simply smart thinking no matter what the future may look like for your business.


Want to learn more about how Eucalypt can help? Check out our packages.

Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.

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