How to Lead a Business Through an Economic Crisis — 10 Suggestions

The unprecedented financial and social circumstances we’re dealing with are unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. These are weird and unusual times. I’m right there with you. We’re all in the same boat trying to figure things out, and in an effort to be helpful, I want to walk you through 10 branding and marketing suggestions to support you as you lead your business and brand through this economic crisis. You can also grab a snazzy PDF version, just click the link below.



I’ve lived through a recession as an entrepreneur. It wasn’t easy, but even amidst the 2008 crisis, our sales grew and business prospered. I learned, in real time, out of necessity, many creative sales and marketing strategies that we still apply here at Proof today. Opportunities are born from adversity. Out of this current confusion and panic will come potential and possibility.

But first, I wanted to let you know that, above all else, you are not alone. 

We’re all working through this. We’re all scrambling. We’re all in this together. If nothing else, rest easy knowing that you are not alone in this, and that even yours truly is, as we speak, adapting and evolving our business to accommodate our current climate.

Am I Going to Be Okay?

It’s hard to think about how to build momentum and grow your business in the midst of a crisis. Most likely, you’re simply wondering, “Am I going to be okay?”.

That, ultimately, will fall to you and your decision to succeed with diligent and intentional planning, or fail with your head buried in the sand waiting for things to blow over. You and I have zero control over these unexpected, erratic economic circumstances. You do, however, have control over how you react. This is the brutal, exciting reality of entrepreneurship.

And should your brand embrace these market conditions, think outside the box, challenge yourself and your business model, get creative with your sales approach, and excel— you may very well be facing the opportunity of a lifetime as the economy most certainly re-develops with vigor.

So let’s agree that your goal is to succeed — to not only survive through this economic crisis but to thrive. You’ve worked too hard for an obstacle like this to take it all away.

You’re going to be okay. You’ve got this. Here are 10 step-by-step suggestions to help your brand survive and thrive during these trying times.

How to Lead a Brand Through an Economic Crisis — 10 Steps

1. Reflect On Your Brand Values

Start with why. During this thought-process, it’s crucial to keep an open mind and understand this crisis is just a temporarily adjusted new reality. We don’t know how long the uncertainty will last, but we do know that the economy will inevitably prevail—we just don’t know when. It’s important to reflect on why you do what you do—getting your purpose, mission, and vision all out on the table. Remember, people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

Define your what and why – and learn how to best communicate with your customers during a crisis.

2. Re-Prioritize Your Belief System

Now that you’ve got your cards all on the table, it’s time for a long hard look in the mirror. If you don’t thoughtfully adapt now, there will be no brand to protect in the future. It may be tempting to go into complete survival mode, but it’s important to note that during this economic hibernation period, negatively diluting the core principles of your brand can cause lasting destruction. Get out a notebook and start to prioritize your brand beliefs and the actions to compete and come out of this crisis stronger and ready to sprint when the dust settles.

3. Rethink Your Ideal Audiences

In this current state, any dollar may be a good dollar. Perhaps you had the luxury of a narrow, premium clientele when the economy was thriving. Welp, it’s time to think through if it’s worth temporarily opening the doors to a larger market without compromising quintessential brand values. How can you adapt and evolve your services and products to meet the needs of the current demand?

4. Refresh Your Buyer Personas

Start with empathy. Circumstances have dramatically changed with the COVID-19 situation—which means the services and products your buyer personas once valued may have drastically changed. And if you’ve noted a new audience (above), this is a good time to craft that new buyer persona. Some important questions to ask yourself: What does the day-to-day of your buyer persona look like now? What are some new pain points? Are the functional jobs of your personas different with the current economic landscape? Are there new opportunities for each customer archetype?

How has your client and customer changed in the midst of a crisis? Tap into your ‘new’ consumer and maximize your marketing potential.

5. Reexamine Your Products and Services

If most of your target customers are in survival mode right now, get down to their level and see them eye-to-eye. Pull out the couch and assess your products and services: Where do they stack up against Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?

6. Stay Relevant, Reassess Your Model

Now that you have a clearer picture of the functional and emotional drivers of your buyer personas’ day-to-day and the inherent end-benefit of your products or services, it’s time to focus. What services or products do you offer that still provide value with the current market conditions? —Concentrate on those. Shift focus if-needed. Adapt and evolve to get laser-focused on what you can offer and why it matters.

7. Reevaluate Delivery and Shipment Offerings

Many clever business owners (pharmacies, coffee shops, fine dining restaurants, and more) have started offering delivery services and curbside pickup for the very first time. These deliveries only require plain paper bags, card box boards, or styrofoam containers. Think. Bigger. If you have customers that are still willing to spend money on your goods, make it a branded opportunity to capitalize on this moment to set your product apart and to plant the seed of loyalty with customers. During these times of hardship, you, as a brand, have a real opportunity to make a lasting, positive impression if you play your cards right.

8. Update Your Digital Communication

Your website, Google My Business account, social media, and email marketing. These are all digital extensions of your brand. Make sure the world knows: a) You’re still around!, b) How you’re addressing COVID-19, c) Updates to your business, d) Incentives to motivate purchase commitment.

I went to a trendy Nashville coffee shop’s website, Google Maps account, and Instagram to see if they were accepting delivery orders—there were no updates since December. So, I went to their competitor’s site and the first thing I saw was an easy online ordering system. Needless to say, I went with the latter option. Stay aware, stay relevant, and keep up with the times. Don’t be stubborn and don’t be averse to change.

9. Re-Consider Social ROI Metrics

With all this social-distancing, self-quarantining, and State of Emergency lockdowns, people are bored out of their minds seeking a sense of social fulfillment, entertainment, news, and distraction. You guessed it. Social media is seeing a massive influx of frequent viewers.

Since the unique value of social users is often tied to purchase intent and considering that consumers are hunkered down and holding on dearly to their wallets, purchase commitment is slim. To measure tangible ROI on social ads in these trying times, it’s helpful to view awareness and engagement as mere indicators while turning to Google Analytics data for completed purchased tracking as meaningful, business KSIs (Key Success Indicators).

Setting SMART goals are key during these times of uncertainty. Define and refine your goals with a little help from your friends (that’s us).

10. Think Ahead, Persevere Like a Champ

For many businesses right now, the first reaction is to go into survival mode. After a few weeks, many companies will adapt to the new norm. However, the brands that are “in it to win it” will soon begin preparing for the economy to inevitably get back on track so they can champion the market. Weeks or months, nobody knows, but when the markets do begin to boom again, the brands who rise to the top won’t prosper from luck, but from intentional, proactive planning.

Fortune and Love Favor the Brave

These are stressful, scary times for business owners. The above 10 steps to lead your business during an economic crisis will hopefully give you guidance and a fresh perspective during these times of fear and uncertainty. Please know that I’m right there with you.

EVERYONE is in panic mode right now. You are not alone. Out of this panic will come potential and possibility. Keep a positive attitude and make sure your brand exudes that positivity, resourcefulness, and support we all need right now. When you’re feeling scared or anxious, meditate, take a break, watch a rerun of your favorite old sitcom.

For your brand and business, re-focus on your why, don’t panic, and don’t be afraid to adapt and evolve what you do and how you do it. Like passing ships in the night, this is an eerie moment of uncertainty — it’s also a once in a lifetime chance for losers to become winners, for the underdog to take the throne.

Through adversity comes an opportunity to do great things.

We’re here to ensure your business maintains momentum and doesn’t get lost in the noise.

We’re right here with you. We want to serve as a helpful resource, so you can lead your company through this economic crisis and into a successful future.

Learn how we can help.

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