4 Ways to Grow Your Business in a Downturn

October 2023

Many are speculating that the economy could go into recession. Inflation remains persistently high, and growth remains sluggishly low. This article explores four ways to buck the trend from leveraging thought leadership PR to buying a competitor. These four tips will help ensure that you continue to grow in a down market, even when everyone else is struggling.

1. Expand into a new market

When a downturn hits, it’s easy to batten down the hatches and retreat to what you know best. You double down on your core market, trying to sell more services or products to your existing customers. But, this can end up hurting you rather than helping you. These customers are already likely to be cutting their budgets, and hard sales tactics can end up backfiring.

You might have more success from taking a step back, looking at what other potential customers could benefit from your products and services, and running a completely fresh campaign to reach these new people. This could be different categories of customers, such as different demographics, or simply customers in different industries or geographies.

When everything is going swimmingly, you probably overlooked these customers because you were happy with how your sales were going. But now you’re starting to struggle, finding new target customers could give you a fresh revenue source.

2. Hunt for an acquisition

A downturn can end up turning up new and unexpected opportunities. If you start the downturn in a stronger financial position than your competitors, you may find that these competitors go to the wall or have to cut their businesses dramatically. This could provide you with a golden opportunity to acquire one of your competitors and their customer base at a very attractive price.

On one hand, this might involve you directly approaching your competitor and making the case for the merger. On the other hand, it might involve you watching out for struggling companies that run the risk of falling into administration that you can buy up for a song. In either case, you might be able to double or even triple the size of your business overnight.

3. Become a thought leader

In a downturn, industries are looking for leadership. It is during difficult times that real leadership is needed. Competitors, customers, and peers are looking for businesses that are leading the discussions about how to act, how to behave, and, most importantly, how to survive. In fact, during difficult periods, you usually see an uptick in the industry reading sector publications and searching for informative content online.

These people are looking for guidance on how to survive and flourish. As a result, during a downturn, there is a perfect opportunity to lean into thought leadership and content creation to set yourself apart and get your company on the radar of more potential customers. You can create this content yourself or, if that’s either too difficult or time-consuming, you can engage the services of a thought leadership PR agency.

These companies will be able to study what your customers are searching for, and craft content in your name to stand out in a crowd thought-leadership marketplace.

4. Invest in advertising

Finally, you might want to consider increasing your investment in advertising. In a downturn, advertising is usually the first budget line that is cut: in fact, companies usually put the brakes on all ad spending completely, reducing ad spending to zero. That’s understandable.

It’s an easy and quick way to save money. But if everyone is pausing on ad spending too, there could be a big opportunity to have more cut-through with advertising than usual. More than that, if everyone is cutting on ad spending, you’ll usually find that websites, magazines, and publications are more willing to cut well-priced deals. Regardless of what you choose to do, while a downturn can be a difficult and trying time for many businesses, it can also present new and unexpected opportunities.

The information in this post is provided for general information only and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from financial, legal and taxation advisors. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information as at the date of publication, Geared Finance, its officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded), for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information for any reason, including due to the passage of time, or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.