By Katie Mientka

Recession-proofing your business is critical – even while we’re in the midst of a growth period.

Since rebounding from the “Great Recession” of 2008, the design and construction industry has seen strong growth. In this boom time, the challenge isn’t securing work – it’s keeping up with demand. Despite rising costs and the difficulty of hiring and retaining talent, design and construction companies still have the advantage of picking and choosing clients to grow their bottom lines. So why look for storm clouds in a clear sky? As industry veterans know, the best time to prepare for hard times is now.

A Good Plan Never Goes to Waste: Planning to Recession-Proof Your Business

According to a forecast by consulting and investment banking firm, FMI, construction industry growth in both residential and nonresidential markets should continue into 2020. However, the pace is projected to decrease from about 5% to 3%.

At the same time, there are indicators that the US economy may be slowing, and a majority of economists predict a recession within the year. We can worry. Or we can plan.

Building Confidence Is Critical for Design and Construction Companies

During a downturn, there is obviously a decline in disposable income for many people. Also at play, and perhaps of bigger concern, is a significant decline in consumer confidence. Folks are not optimistic about the state of the overall economy and, closer to home, their own finances.

When they are considering a construction, renovation, or design project, they need to know: Is it worth it? Will I see a return on my investment (e.g. increasing property value, cutting costs with more efficient homes, etc.)? Who can I trust to get my project done right and adhere to my budget without unnecessarily inflating costs?

While demand for construction and design services will often slow during a recession (at least in certain areas – renovations/updates tend to perform better than new construction), it will not stop. When consumers lose confidence in the economy, you need to build their confidence in you.


Recession-Proofing Your Business with A Strong Marketing Strategy

1. Don’t Wait

It’s not a matter of if a recession will hit, it’s when. Now is the time to build confidence – as well as trust and relationships with prospects and customers.

2. Branding: Create Clarity for Consumers

You must emerge as a fearless leader – regardless of the ups and downs of the economy. Your reputation for quality, integrity, value, and ethical work practices will give you a leg-up on the competition (and help you convert some of their clients too!).

Underpinning your marketing efforts is your brand architecture. This is how you convey your brand message with clarity in order to create an “irrational” bond with your clients. You’ve heard it said: people buy on emotion and justify with logic.

Take YETI coolers, for example. Why pay $400 – $600 for a cooler when you can get by perfectly well with one that costs a quarter of the price (or less!)? Because YETI has created that bond: they connect through the promise of adventure, freedom, exploration… and, of course… the cool factor.


Build an emotional brand: even during downturns, your message will resonate with clients. And if you build it now, you can leverage existing relationships to help you weather economic clouds.

3. Excel at Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is the art and science of driving people to your website and compelling them to take a desired action (e.g. fill out a form, contact you, make a purchase, etc.). To do this effectively, your website must be properly calibrated with:

  • Clear messaging. You’ve got about 5-7 seconds to tell people what you’re about, or they’ll head over to your competitor’s website.
  • Concise language. Strip away the excess and the extraneous and get down to business.
  • Prominent calls-to-action (CTAs). What do you want people to do when they arrive on your site? Tell them clearly and simply (e.g. Download XYZ eBook, Subscribe to ABC Magazine, etc.).
  • SEO/SEM. Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are processes that help you gain visibility in search results. You do this with the use of targeted keywords, pillar pages with links to and from relevant pages, local optimization, and valuable content.

Below you’ll see a conversion funnel, which shows how website visitors begin as “strangers” and progress into customers/clients and brand advocates. When your website is strategically built, you move prospects through the funnel more effectively and efficiently.

recession4. Create Helpful, Relevant Content.

It is also essential that you understand your buyer’s journey, or the steps they go through to become aware of your service/product, evaluate it, and then purchase. Briefly, they are:

  • Awareness. They realize they have a problem.
  • Consideration. They define their problem and look for companies that can deliver a viable solution.
  • Decision. They hire or buy from a company in order to solve their problem.

Create content for each stage of the buyer’s journey. The goal is to move them along… and make their destination you. For example, during the awareness stage, people want education and information. Ditch the sales pitch and give them relevant, helpful content:

  • How to Pick the Best Floor Plan for Your Family
  • 5 Tips for a More Efficient Home
  • Building a Custom Home FAQs
  • Thinking About a Smart Home? Why It’s a Smart Move
  • Buying vs. Building a Custom Home

Blog posts, articles, infographics, videos, social media posts, interactive quizzes, and other formats are ideal for reaching people here.

For more information and ideas, read “Creating Content for Different Stages of the Buyer’s Journey.”

Ensure that prospects and clients see you as the solution now; during a recession, they will want to go with a business they already trust and that has already delivered value to them.


5. Emphasize “Home.” During economic turbulence, people tend to retreat home. They hunker down, if you will. Instead of going out to expensive dinners, for example, they’re more likely to entertain at home. Instead of going to the movies or pricey sporting events, they host game or movie nights. This presents a significant opportunity to those of us in the design and construction industry as people want to create a safe, secure, cozy, comfortable, and beautiful environment for themselves.

Emphasize the concept of “home” in your marketing messaging. While new building may slow, updates, upgrades, renovations, and design projects do have the potential for profitability.

Don’t Lose Focus on Marketing

When hard times hit, marketing budgets are often the first to face the knife. This is a mistake. People are restless, antsy; they want and need to make changes in their purchase decisions. Double-down on your marketing efforts (not necessarily by spending more but by being more strategic) so they find and choose you.

Haven Media specializes in helping design and construction firms build strong marketing and advertising strategies and implement them with confidence. Tell your story of expertise – while keeping your budget in check. Improving your marketing today will help you prepare for the future.