When it comes to dealing with a recession, the first instinct of many business owners is to cut back on their advertising and marketing. In some situations, it may make sense to cut back on advertising based on ROI numbers. However, it’s vital that you continue marketing to sustain and grow your businesses during these tough financial times.

But just what can you do to market your business when you can’t even get customers to come in? Here is a helpful guide that can help you make the right decisions.

1. Send Care Packages to Previous Clients

It’s important to send out a reminder to your past clients that you care. Sending out simple and inexpensive care packages can make a world of a difference. When the economy starts to get back on track, your clients will remember who cared enough to reach out.

You’ll be on top of their mind if you’re offering a service that they need. Many won’t even consider going with competitors that are offering a lower price as a response to the recession. That’s why you want to invest in building strong relationships with your clients, even when times are tough.

2. Leverage Social Media Marketing

One of the best ways to stay in touch, engage, and even build relationships with your customers is through social media. It’s an incredibly cost-effective way to market to your target audience and customers. If you’re on a tight budget, this is the digital marketing strategy that you want to put more emphasis on.

But in order to make social media work for your business, you have to do more than just sell your services. You have to provide your audience with outstanding content. You have to engage followers with interesting conversations. You have to reach out to your customers and figure out how to add value.

3. Send Out Postcards

A great way to touch base with your clients is to send out postcards. Postcards are a big step up from email. These postcards let your customers know that you’ve invested money into reminding them that you care about their well-being. If you need ideas for postcards, you can use these examples for your campaign.

Of course, if you’re cash strapped, it may not be worth it to send out a postcard that’s a simple reminder. But if you plan on marketing with these postcards, you have to strike the right balance between selling and offering value to your clients in these uncertain times.

4. Focus on Generating Leads

It may become more difficult for clients to agree to make a purchase during a recession depending on your industry. This may make you feel discouraged about marketing, but you shouldn’t give up. Instead of focusing on the sale, it’s a good idea to focus on generating leads.

Why focus on the leads? First, you’ll be able to generate more leads since a decent number of competitors will stop advertising. Second, it’s easier to acquire leads as opposed to closing the sale during uncertain financial times. Finally, once you do acquire the leads, you can build a relationship with the prospects. When things do start picking up, they’ll end up doing business with the businesses they’ve formed relationships with.

A great way to work with leads is through email. Email marketing is a very cost-effective way to stay in touch with your leads. It’s very different from social media in that it’s far more personal. If you don’t have the means to run direct mail or postcard campaigns, email is the next best thing.

5. Cut Costs with Co-Advertising

One of the issues you’ll face with advertising during a recession is that the performance of your campaigns will drop. In some cases, media companies may reduce rates to help advertisers during a recession, but this isn’t always the case. This is why some businesses cut advertising out altogether.

But you can make your advertising by partnering up with another business and advertising together. Find a relevant business that you can share the costs with. For example, landscapers can partner up with contracting companies to share the advertising costs. This strategy can make it affordable for you to continue advertising so that you still generate leads and customers during a downturn.

6. Reach Out for Joint Ventures

One marketing strategy that can potentially triumph all others during a recession is joint ventures. Rather than spending money on advertising, you can reach out to other businesses that share a similar customer database as you do. For example, it makes perfect sense for a hair care company to reach out to salons to help market their own product.

In this scenario, the salons would make 30 to 40 percent of the profit when a customer ends up making a purchase. The result is a win-win scenario for both parties. There are many creative ways to set up joint ventures. Some of them may be as simple as passing off leads to partners.

Think of what businesses you can partner up with during these times. Can you come up with a win-win situation that can be profitable for both or multiple parties? If the answer is yes, start reaching out to related businesses that are not in direct competition with you.

7. Take Part in Charitable Events

If you have the resources, try to start or take part in charitable events. This is a great way to give back to your community who you rely on for your business. Even small donations or big efforts in organizing donations from others can make a big difference.

People will remember your business as one of the few that had stepped up to help the community or a specific group/organization. It may even lead to your business getting press coverage in different media outlets. But of course, make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons.

This is a general overview of what you can do to continue bringing in customers and growing your business during a recession. In some cases, these alternative approaches may be necessary for your business to survive. Things will get better in due time. But you have to adapt to the times if you want your business to come out of this ahead.