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Navigating The Economic Riptide

Bermuda - Pompano

The waters of our economy are choppy. What is your business' plan? Tread water? Or swim for the win? Marketing and advertising are key during these times. Read on to learn why.  

Summer is around the corner and if you’re like most of us you’re looking forward to enjoying the beach 🏖️ and swimming in the ocean. You arrive at your favorite beach. You lay out your blanket, put up your umbrella and put on your sunscreen. Now that you’re all set up you run toward the water, only to be stopped in your tracks when you see the sign “Warning! Possible Rip Currents. Swim with Care!” What do you do? You have three options:

  1. Don’t go in the water.
  2. Wade in the water but don’t swim.
  3. Swim. 🏊

According to “WikiHow” here are the ways to survive a riptide:

  1. Remain Calm.
  2. Call for Help.🆘
  3. Swim parallel to shore.
  4. Swim diagonally to shore once you’re out of the current.

Let’s break these 4 steps down as they relate to marketing during an unsettled economy or “economic riptide.”

Step 1: Remain Calm

When the economy gets bumpy as a business leader your first thought may often be, “I need to rein in spending and play it safe.” Spending during an economic downturn likely goes against your instincts. But as noted above, when there is a riptide, you are still able to swim, it just requires some help, knowledge, and navigation. 

The problem with a "no spend" approach is when you “go quiet” with your marketing a few things happen:

  • It can signal that your business is not doing well (regardless of its status)
  • Your competition continues their marketing spend so they are grabbing your prospective clients and maybe even past clients
  • According to a LinkedIn article by John Murphy, it can take 3-5 years to get back to pre-riptide sales levels.

Step 2: Call For Help 📣

My research for this article has shown that your best first move is outreach to your clients. Contact your current and past clients to learn their perspectives on our current economic landscape. What are their concerns? What are their plans for buying what you sell? How might you be able to help them? This outreach program will build your relationship with your clients, especially if you share your findings with them. You can either do this yourself or call on a marketing specialist for help.

Once you’ve gathered your client’s input, use the information to adjust your marketing message. Continue to spend on marketing but in a different way by applying the intel you gathered.

Here is an excerpt from a “Harvard Business Review” article summarizing why pulling in the reins on your marketing spend is the wrong move…

“Marketing in a recession will never be easy, largely because it often involves going against instincts and standard operating norms. Customers’ behavior undergoes profound changes – reflecting changes in their circumstances and needs, which may even be traumatic. In this environment you must accompany your customers on their new, different journey, shifting your message and even re-engineering your value proposition. This is a time not to stop spending money but a time to change how you spend it. It is also an opportunity because firms who are willing to be what customers need in a recession (As of the writing date of this Blog we are not in a recession) get to keep many of the new customers they get — and cement the loyalty of those they already had.”

Step 3: Swim Parallel To Shore

We’re currently in what I've coined an “economic riptide.” The water/market is unsettled, and some businesses choose not to go in the water, meaning they are cutting back on their marketing spend. Hopefully, so far you understand that the response to our current economy is not to stop swimming but instead to change how you swim/spend.

This could mean investing in professional photography to show off your project/product. Or using video or starting a YouTube channel. Any and all of these types of “swimming” should be dictated by what you learn from your client interviews.

Step 4: Swim Diagonally To Shore

To continue the riptide analogy, maybe swimming parallel is not working as well as you’d thought. Look at the results of your marketing spend and analyze it. According to "Forbes" article by Christian Thompson, "Marketing During an Economic Downturn," "It has been shown repeatedly that during times of economic downturn, those that continue to advertise are quicker to recover when the economy improves than those that cease advertising." The author goes on to say, "As the economy began to recover, those that decreased its marketing efforts saw its market share drop by 0.8%. Those that maintained their marketing and advertising at pre-crisis levels had an increase of 0.6%, while the companies that increased their advertising saw an increase of 4.3%."

So consider your path and analyze it. Try something new, perhaps a 3D Virtual Tour to show off a space in a new way. If your Facebook ads aren’t working, try Google Ads. If your Google Ads aren’t working, try using an influencer, etc. Just be sure you've given each effort ample time to work before making adjustments. 

Ready to Dive In?

Given all the information in this article, how will you handle the current “economic riptide?” Will you go dark with your marketing spend, and risk that your clients and prospective clients will forget about you? Or will you be bold and manage your marketing so you can make it out of the riptide, perhaps even with an edge over your competition? Remember, “history favors the brave.” 


I'd love to hear about your marketing spend during Covid or another challenging economic time. What worked? What didn't? #economicriptide

- Delise 😊

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