You’ve likely heard the predictions of a coming recession, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, shutdown of normal life, and subsequent sluggishness of the economy. Economic experts have yet to reach consensus on just how sharp the downturn will be, but in marketing we know that a few principles remain constant. 

Focus on existing relationships.

You’ve already put forth the effort to form long-standing relationships with your current customers. Treat those relationships with the same care as those in your personal life. Reach out to them, see how they’re doing, and ask for their input on ways that you can help them through this time. 

Your clients are facing many of the same conflicts and worries that you are. Taking a moment to check on them, without the pressure of a sale, will serve to strengthen the relationship. 

Studies have repeatedly shown that the cost of gaining one new customer far outstrips the cost of acquiring repeat business from existing clientele. These are the people with whom you’ve already formed a relationship, so make sure they know you value them. But remember: Save the selling language for later. 

Stay the course.

When facing a crisis, it can feel like you need psychic powers in order to make the best decisions for long-term success.  Fears of the future can tempt you to cut back on marketing efforts. 

You don’t actually need to be a psychic to know that this is a bad idea. Not only would you be neglecting those relationships that matter so much already; you could be giving up the opportunity to form new ones. When one company neglects a target demographic, another is sure to swoop in and grab their attention, and the cost of a missed opportunity, as we have learned, can be great. 

Adapt to a new reality.

During the 2008 recession, Netflix began their game-winning shift from a video-rental service to streaming movies via Comcast and Apple. Had they simply stuck to their old business model, they wouldn’t be a household name today. The key was in recognizing changing habits and perspectives of their target demographic, and adjusting their business model accordingly. In that case, high unemployment combined with home WiFi opened up the perfect opportunity to provide for new customer demands. 

Use this time to build toward a brighter future.

Numerous studies have proven that those who maintain or increase their marketing presence during a downturn will gain market share over time. 

For example, one March 2010 study of 4600 companies found that 17 percent of them went bankrupt during the 2008 recession,nearly 80 percent required three years to recover, and 9 percent thrived even during rocky economic times. Why? Those were the ones who reduced cost through operational efficiency, while investing in growth via marketing and research and development. 

Proctor and Gamble serves as another terrific example. The brand came out of the Great Depression stronger than it went in, after shifting into new marketing channels such as radio. 

Provide comfort and build trust.

In a world that feels unstable, consistency and comfort can be the tickets to brand loyalty. That’s why half of the top ten most trusted brands are more than 100 years old. Continue to listen to customers, answer their questions, and provide the trusted services they need, and your efforts will pay off with years of loyalty – and yes, growth – as the economy rebounds.