Design and marketing in a recession

Recession needn't give us an uncertain future

Recession, credit crunch, slowdown – these are bywords of the moment and you would be forgiven for thinking that we’ve got to tighten out belts and prepare for hard times ahead.

The natural inclination for some businesses might be to scale back on marketing activities in an effort to save money. But, last week it was reported that two of the world’s biggest advertisers, Unilever and Procter & Gamble, would not cut their marketing budgets.

It’s been proved time after time that a recession (and let’s not forget we’re not actually technically in one yet!) is a time to increase your marketing budget.

Why? Because, in a downturn, the shortsighted companies will reduce their advertising spend allowing businesses that maintain or increase their spend to steal market share from them. Also, advertising space and marketing services may reduce in price so that the same advertising spend buys you more media.

One possible way to cut cost whilst increasing ‘share of voice’ would be to employ freelance graphic designers and marketeers rather than using an agency. Freelancers often outperform agencies in quality, price and timeliness. To put it bluntly, a freelancer could charge you £35/hour for what an agency would charge £150/hour. One client of mine recently commented that agencies seem to charge you for sneezing!

So, far from being a negative experience, the recent “bad” news on the economy may present us with an unparalleled opportunity!

What is your experience on the changes in marketing spend in your business?

Did this help you? If so, please share!

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  1. says

    I’ve heard along these lines as well. I think I’ve also heard that consumer spending patterns change during a recession / downturn, so perhaps we should follow what those spending patterns are, and focus on the industries which benefit. I can’t cite any examples off the top of my head, but I have read that (for example) rising petrol prices are apparently encouraging people to invest in bigger and better home entertainment systems in lieu of going out at night. That provides plenty of options for companies/industries to approach as prospective clients.

  2. says

    I think you’re absolutely right, Tracey, and I think you’re showing great insight. Go for home entertainments whilst travel and other areas become more expensive. Excellent! I think we might see a downturn in the “affordable” luxury sector (the upper end of the luxury sector will always be good) and an upturn in the economy-class sector. There’s definitely opportunities out there.

  3. says

    This is a lesson in economics. You are right about free lance designers anyway. Some agencies are like money hyngry machines ready to suck you dry.Besides i never knew one has to increase one’s spending on advertisments once their is a recession. Thanks for the piece of advise

  4. says

    You are right, lanre from nigeria, agencies are money hungry. They have to pay for the building they occupy, the equipment, the staff, the directors, the cleaning lady. The freelancer only has to pay for himself. Simply put a freelance designer will charge maybe 40-60$US per hour; an agency 150-500$US per hour. Freelancers will be popular in a recession and we will see agencies cutting staff or even going out of business.

  5. Air Jordans says

    Yes Rob you are absolutely right. Freelancer is cheaper and you can choose from among a hundred of experts as opposed to an agency where you can only choose one who is in their employ.

  6. Mark Taylor says

    The smart business owner will be looking to increase there ROI. Effective Marketing Campaigns will be where the strong survive. Its not just about the amount available to spend on advertising anymore its about getting creative and utilising modern technology to promote the brand, products or service right infront of people who have already raides their hand and expressed an interest.


    • says

      You’ll be surprised how many clients (especially large corporate ones) still do employ agencies, Henry. There are still a lot of clients out there for the inventive freelancer to steal off the agencies. I should think some agencies are finding it hard at the moment.

      Wise words, Mark, you are right, it’s all about clever advertising and marketing and smart targeting of those individuals who are the most likely to be interested in what you’re selling. Splatter gun advertising is a pre-recession thing.

  7. yinka says

    I think it would be nice to clarify the difference between a freelancer and an agency because some agencies advertise as freelancers.