The Indispensable Role of Digital Marketing in Economic Downturns

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Gain insight into the vital role of digital marketing during economic downturns. Equip your business with strategies for resilience.

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Here’s an uncontroversial take: in the midst of economic downturns, businesses will confront an array of formidable financial and operational challenges.

Here’s a somewhat more controversial opinion: during times of economic downturns, the necessity of digital marketing actually increases. In fact, I argue that the role of digital marketing in a recession is indispensable.

Full disclosure, we’re in the business of providing digital marketing services to companies large and small, so it is no surprise that I would take this stance when arguing the merits of having a well-defined digital marketing strategy. But I’m not alone in this stance. I read an article in McKinsey recently that supported this very line of thinking. It talks about taking an investor’s mindset to Marketing in general. Using their analogy, cutting your digital marketing initiatives during an economic downturn would be equivalent to selling your stocks when the market is low. Although the McKinsey article is more focused on “marketing” from a broader perspective, it makes many of the same points I use to argue the merits of digital marketing as one of the cornerstones to any great business plan.

Defining Digital Marketing

Let’s start by aligning our understanding of digital marketing. At its core, digital marketing is the utilization of digital channels, platforms, and technologies to promote and advertise products or services to a targeted audience. It encompasses a broad spectrum of tactics and strategies, all designed to harness the vast digital landscape for business growth. This “broad spectrum” includes items such as Pay Per Click (PPC), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Management, Programmatic Advertising, Website Development, Email Marketing, and Account Based Marketing (ABM).

For further reading, I recommend consulting resources such as HubSpot or Wikipedia that can provide comprehensive insights into digital marketing.

Everybody knows, or at least thinks they know, that they should be investing in digital marketing initiatives. But when pressed to explain why or how, there is still a major gap in understanding the fundamentals of what this is all about. This is not about “blasting some social media posts” about your great new product. This is not about “writing a couple of blogs”. This is not about “needing big images and videos on my website”.

This is about having a very purposeful, strategic approach to building content that is targeted and valuable for your users at any point in their buying journey. This is about serving your prospects and customers meaningful content that helps them build a relationship with you and your brand. This is about understanding that your prospects will most likely find you online and will make their first impressions of your business from what they see online.

Setting a Foundation

Digital marketing does not need to be expensive. Yes, there are costs to understanding your customers, understanding their journey, and planning content, but we would consider these as being the foundational components. In fact, you should already have a good understanding of these components in your business plan or go-to-market strategies. If you’re starting to craft your digital content and don’t have this foundation in place, then go back a step and make sure that you build your Ideal Customer Profiles (ICP) and Customer Journeys first. Seriously, go back and put in the work. You can always adjust these in the future, but not having a specific target and a goal is simply a recipe for failure.

Know who your audience is, and then make sure that you’re providing value to them. Providing value is not constantly regurgitating features and benefits or your product. Providing value is the mindset of delivering something useful to your prospects to help them answer their search inquiries.

Building a Process

The next step is building a process and having the discipline to stick to that process in good times and in leaner times. We’ve established that your digital marketing assets and strategies should be based upon serving valuable content to your ICP’s at various spots in their buying journeys. Be it your website, blog, social media post, PPC ad, white paper, video, newsletter, or email drip, each of these pieces of digital content should have a purpose or reason for being and each of these is simply part of the process of constantly providing valuable content to your prospects.

There is a great analogy to team sports here. Listen to any post-game interview in a big-league sport and you’ll be inundated with these cliché’s: “we were successful because we stuck to the process”, “we stuck to our game plan”, “we did (or didn’t) stay disciplined”. Great teams and athletes know that providing great results can only happen if they diligently stick to their plans and processes. In good times and especially in bad times.

So build a process, and stick to it. In the words of the great basketball coach John Wooden – “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”.

Adopting this type of systemized process for creating content ultimately will create the proper discipline and culture that will make for long term success as this will all be baked into your process of conducting “Marketing”.

The healthy process may look as follows:

Plan > Brief > Create Content > Review > Post > Promote

Just like any other part of your business, getting started, staying consistent, and pivoting based on real data are the real keys to success. And just like any other strategically important decision, you need to be wary of shortcuts or snake oil salespeople who say they can get you top results or rankings for cheap rates. Great digital marketing is accomplished by playing the long-game, and the rewards will be the organic growth you will achieve in the future.

Organic Growth

Once the foundation is set and you have a clear process in place, then stick to the discipline of following your process. Once you have established the routine, there is really no extra cost to enjoying the benefits of a sound digital marketing operation:


Digital marketing often offers a more cost-effective alternative to traditional marketing channels. It enables you to reach a wider audience without depleting your resources. If posting content is baked into your marketing system as we recommend, then there is no real added cost here. It is just your time, and it is time well spent because you are constantly delivering value to your prospects and customers. You can organically grow by using SEO and Social Media tactics together as essentially “free” advertising methods so long as every piece of content serves a purpose.

Targeted Precision

Digital marketing empowers you to pinpoint specific demographics, interests, and behaviors. This precision ensures that your marketing efforts are laser-focused on the most relevant audiences. This is truly a unique feature of digital marketing. The ability to get targeted content in front of your customers. Organically, you can utilize smart SEO tactics again to target content towards your prospects.

Measurable Outcomes

Digital marketing allows for real-time tracking and analysis. You can gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns, make real-time adjustments, and optimize for superior results. Plan, position, and pivot – the LVT formula in a nutshell!

The Psychology of the Buyer in Downturns

Buyer psychology provides us with another strong reason to stay the course when it comes to your digital marketing strategy. As budgets tighten, consumers become more discerning, seeking enhanced value in their purchases. They invest more time in researching options, comparing prices, and evaluating the benefits. And we all know where all of this “research” time is spent – online, interacting with you and your competitor’s digital brands.

So exceptional digital content becomes the conduit to delivering enhanced value to your prospects. Through informative articles, engaging videos, educational webinars, and interactive infographics, businesses can position themselves as trusted advisors and solution providers. When buyers find valuable information that addresses their concerns and needs, they are more likely to choose your brand.

Which begs the question – how confident are you that your digital footprint really represents the image you want to portray to customers visiting you online?

In Conclusion

In times of economic uncertainty, your long-term digital marketing strategies should be the last thing to be sacrificed. If done correctly, your digital marketing content and processes should be baked into your company ethos. Don’t sell your stock when the market is low. Reinvest in your position and find ways to resonate with your users, prospects, and customers by delivering them useful content that truly delivers value.

Your digital footprint should never be an afterthought. Remember, your digital marketing assets are most likely the part of your business that your customers interact with or view more often than any other part of your business. These need to be fluid and fresh, and need to evolve as quickly as your business evolves.

Stefano Walker
With over two decades of experience, Stefano excels at connecting with entrepreneurs and business owners at a strategic level. He is passionate about implementing customer-centric strategies for LVT clients that under-promise and over-deliver.
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