Marketing lessons from the Great Recession

For many in 2020, figuring out how to even come close to making their revised revenue goals may feel like a lost cause.  Hundreds of industries are feeling the sting of lost revenue, lost productivity, and many, unfortunate layoffs.

Before you slash your marketing agency and budgets, you may consider some things we’ve learned from previous downturns.

1. Don’t put all your eggs in one marketing basket

Just like you don’t want to be heavily invested in one stock over another, you need to have redundancies in key areas and specific segments of your business.  In case you need a practical example of this just look at all the redundancies we have in the human body. If you only rely on just one marketing person or just one marketing partner, you may find when those become overworked or resource-constrained you are left without a critical function right when you need it most to bridge the gaps in revenue. Now is a great time to access your vulnerabilities and identify those partners to help you play offense again.


2. Less can be more

During the 2008 recession, we saw a complete failure in our banking and real estate infrastructures. This caused many household names to completely fail or merge. Mergers and acquisitions can be healthy and help balance industries that have become congested with too many similar lines of business. The marketing agency landscape is no different.  The larger agencies have a deep bench of talent and a lot of overhead to support.  Their Fortune 500 clients with sizable budgets and consumer brand recognition are marquis clients for these agencies, but not all clients can cough up those marketing and advertising dollars. Often those larger agencies aren’t interested in clients who don’t command a strong brand presence already. If your organization is ready for a marketing partner, but not ready to invest six figures to do it, consider what other factors are important to you for hiring a marketing partner. Get the most bang for your buck.

3. Marketing doesn’t have to be a risky business

Capitalism, materialism, and a series of poor choices were the storyline for this 1983 movie, but this could describe any business in America in 2008 and many in 2020. However, one thing that all business executives and business owners know is that competition is fierce and the survival of the fittest has been the mantra. There are risks and rewards with any enterprise and during this time of declining revenues, we are seeing more and more businesses reach out to help their fellow business leaders.  Hoarding intellectual property, withholding opportunities, and devouring competition has been put on pause.  In fact, we can all take a page from the Google and Apple playbook and find ourselves not only solving big problems but creating more than enough business and opportunities to go around.  If you are not investing in other’s businesses, why would you expect anyone to invest in yours?

For grins, here are some top startups that took hold immediately following the Great Recession:

  1. Groupon, 2008
  2. Slack, 2009
  3. Venmo, 2009
  4. Uber, 2009
  5. Pinterest, 2010
  6. Instagram, 2010

There will undoubtedly be takeaways from the Covid-19 experience that will influence future generations of leaders.  Each of us has an obligation to lean into our specific strengths and leverage those strengths in others by creating new partnerships.  Soon enough there will be a new wave of opportunities, new marketing channels, and enterprises that will shape our business landscape and economy.

StartStrong is a strengths-based virtual marketing agency that believes in the stability of redundancies, the power of diversification, and the strength of character.  How can the power of an additional digital marketing partnership help you achieve the revenue shortcomings imposed by Covid-19 in 2020?  Consider looking backward as you forge ahead.


Photos courtesy of Unsplash