The Power of Marketing: Investing When Times are Tough

When times are tough in business, the first thing that always seems to get cut is the marketing budget 🙄 

Financial crises, pandemics and other disasters can see businesses plunge into uncertainty, watching their sales and profits plummet. 

Marketing, as unfortunate as it is, is often seen as surplus to requirements, or something to do during ‘the good times’. But rather than slash their marketing efforts, we believe for businesses to succeed the exact opposite should happen... and we can prove it. 

Businesses need to rethink what success means during these critical times, shift their focus and adapt to changing consumer needs, all while playing to their strengths and focusing on what they do best. 

Who can help them do that? You guessed it – a marketing team. 

Economic Crisis

Why marketing gets cut 

In the event of a crisis, business leaders are forced to identify which departments are most valuable to their success – at least in their eyes. 

When they identify their priorities, marketing is often at the bottom of their list. 

But why are marketing departments often the first to get the chop, and what makes business leaders believe they are dispensable? 

Marketing is seen as a luxury 

Many companies believe that marketing isn’t an essential part of running a business, compared to core operational activities such as logistics, administration, finance and customer/client service. 

At Flamingo, we believe marketing is non-negotiable. It’s more than just sharing a few posts on social media or writing the odd blog post. Marketing encompasses all aspects of making your brand visible to your target audience.  

There’s not always an instant impact 

One of the biggest challenges of marketing is that there are often no instant results. It can take weeks, months or sometimes even years for businesses to feel a considerable positive impact from their marketing endeavours. 

Some businesses may feel that they don’t have the time to commit to a long-term marketing plan – if they’re going to embrace marketing, it needs to have an impact today! 

There’s a lack of visibility 

It’s easy to track how many deals are being closed, but it’s much more challenging to chart the positive impact a marketing campaign has on a business’s bottom line. 

Business leaders like results – but even when those results are plain to see, it can be hard to determine whether they are meaningful or beneficial to the business. 

Crisis and opportunity

What history has taught us 

During times of crisis, such as the recession of 2008 or the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020, businesses all around the world struggled, with sales and profits down and consumers lacking confidence in their purchasing decisions. 

This caused businesses to reevaluate their priorities and spending, forcing extreme cuts to be made across all areas of their businesses. 

Evidence across the last century shows us however, that the companies who don’t reduce, but rather increase their marketing budgets during recessions experience higher sales than those who decrease or cut their spend entirely. 

During periods of recession, Amazon’s sales grew by 28%. The company didn’t hold back on innovation during this time, launching new Kindle products. Plus, for the first time in its history, Amazon reported more e-book sales than printed book sales. 

When the recession hit in 2008, Groupon launched as a startup, offering subscribers discounts for travel, goods and services. This saw them capitalise on the challenging financial situations of consumers and businesses and they quickly became a household name. 

Kellogg’s raced ahead in the cereal game during the Great Depression, introducing their ‘Snap, crackle, pop’ tagline and starting their journey towards becoming THE most popular cereal brand. Meanwhile, their competitors Post ground their marketing efforts to a halt. 

At a time when other companies reduce advertising activity, those that increase it have an exponentially larger audience to market to. 

As the great Henry Ford said: 

“Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”

Here’s why… 

Why cutting marketing is a mistake 

It helps you stand out 

When potential clients are looking for you, they will head to your website and social media channels. 

Your copy and design set the tone for your entire business and will communicate to potential leads whether you’re funny, insightful or authoritative for example, and help them inform their decision. 

At Flamingo, we pride ourselves on helping businesses stand out. Read about how our creative services can help your business and see our case studies on our blog for a glimpse of the work we’ve already done.


It helps you build trust 

While lead generation often reigns supreme, brand awareness is a highly impactful component in any marketing strategy. A marketing department can help you build trust and establish you as a thought leader in your field. 


It helps you reach and retain customers

Whether through boosting your brand awareness or generating the best leads, a solid marketing strategy helps you reach and retain your dream customers. 

Brand awareness makes you memorable – even if your social media posts aren’t seeing much traction, a potential lead could spot them and get in touch – or remember your name for the future. 

Lead generation is the most straightforward, with targeted campaigns to get your business in front of the right people. Whether it’s sending out LinkedIn messages or emails or even making phone calls, direct communication with your dream clients is such an effective way to keep business headed in the right direction. 

Marketing also works wonders when it comes to retaining customers too. If they can see you’re actively posting blogs or social media content, they will know you’re passionate about what you do. Posting content about your team also helps your clients see your positive attitude towards your work.


It helps you stay flexible

We’re not saying marketing makes the downward dog any easier on your back. However, a marketing team can help you stay on your toes and seize opportunities you may otherwise miss, like responding to social media algorithm changes or important cultural moments. 

Marketing your business, whether in-house or externally, can help you adapt to change within your market and boost your sales in the process. 

If you’re interested in taking your marketing up a gear, read our other articles to learn more. Or if you need some additional support, book a 60-minute strategy call with our MD, Emma, to get you on the right path.