Marketing Through Economic Uncertainty

Written by Therese Padilla

Since 2020, the global economy has been in a state of flux. Business, industry, and consumers are still waiting to see how the economic effects of the pandemic play out. In the meantime, companies are cutting costs, and the marketing team frequently takes the first, and hardest, hits — precisely when marketing is needed most. What can a professional product manager do to help reconcile these two opposing truths and maintain market interest in their product?

Back to basics

The most obvious measure is, of course, cutting costs. How can a product manager (PM) help marketing teams decide what to cut? Reexamine current products and readdress the following fundamental questions:

  • What’s likely to increase revenue? If you’re confident in a product’s ability to succeed, don’t sacrifice it for short-term savings.
  • What’s too high-risk? If a product doesn’t show good prospects for immediate success, now is not the time. Save high-risk campaigns for a more stable economy.
  • What takes too many steps? Long-term campaigns are also better suited to a more stable economy, and the more steps a campaign requires, the more expensive it becomes.
  • What does your market research reveal? Information is the backbone of good decision-making. Before making any big marketing decisions, consult the market data.

If a product is unlikely to succeed on its face, it’s a good place to start cutting back. For essential marketing projects, expenses can be reduced with automation, outsourcing, and other creative solutions. For a professional PM, answering these questions and collecting all the relevant data allows for well-informed advice about what to adjust and where to proceed as planned.

For many companies, the most common target for budget cuts is marketing. This is a mistake. Marketing is vital in an uncertain economy, and too many cuts to the marketing budget risk dooming a product to obscurity.

Choosing your channels

Some marketing channels are more effective than others. The most useful channels depend on your product and its ideal audience. Measure the return on investment (ROI) of each active channel. For comparison, Influencer Market Hub found that the “average earned media value [in influencer marketing] per $1 spent increased to $5.78” in 2020, and in 2023, the “Influencer Marketing Industry is set to grow to approximately $21.1 Billion.”

To save money, advise concentrating on digital and social marketing, which tend to reach a wider audience than other, older marketing channels. In most cases, print channels will be the first to go, while content marketing and audience interaction continue to show high returns. Refocusing on a digital marketing strategy can help your team cut costs without sacrificing visibility. Research where your product’s target market lives online, and add those channels to your marketing recommendations.

Finding your approach

Some of the best product marketing ideas are discovered during uncertain economic times. After all, nothing encourages creative problem-solving like a tight budget. This is the perfect time to brainstorm with your team. Encourage unconventional suggestions, and don’t be afraid to test a novel approach. “Impossible” ideas may turn out to be exactly what your product needs to succeed.

When playing it safe seems like the better option, remind your product and marketing teams of the dangers of playing it too safe. Consumers are watching their budgets too, and you don’t want to sacrifice market interest. Audiences respond to new and interesting; don’t be afraid to give it to them.

With the right mindset, economic adversity drives innovation and improvement. Today’s economic circumstances continue to create obstacles — especially for product marketing — but you can view current challenges as a creative opportunity and find new ways for your product to thrive in an uncertain economy.

Learn more about product marketing and management — and the significance of professional certification for product and brand managers — at

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About the author

Therese Padilla