Why Investing in Copy in a Recession is a Smart Move

Published: April 26th, 2024 and written by

Recession – it is a word no one ever wants to hear.

Recession – it is a word no one ever wants to hear

The financial costs associated with simply being alive become more challenging to reconcile, people spend less money, and businesses and the economy are hit even harder as a result. Reduced consumer spending also leads to job losses and a slowdown in investment.

Business owners and higher-ups will often need to have difficult discussions around cutbacks and layoffs and even consider closing up shop for good. But if cutbacks are necessary for your business to survive a recession, the last thing you want to do is slash your marketing budget!

Why investing in copy in a recession is a smart move? That’s easy – if you have no marketing, you have no presence. If your target market can’t see you, how will they know you are there? A recession is a time when businesses need to fight for visibility, fight for consumers to part with their hard-earned cash, and not just stay afloat during the recession but to come out on top.

Of course, as a copywriter, I will espouse the importance of investing in copy during a recession. I know that good copy can yield significant returns for businesses in times of both economic prosperity and recession. And if I do my job well, by the end of this blog, you will see why I am right.

Do you want to see more of why investing in copy in a recession is a smart move?

Let’s dive in.

What is Copy and Why is it So Powerful?

What is Copy and Why is it So Powerful?

Copy refers to any written content that conveys a brand’s message, ethos, and products or services. It is the written representation of a brand’s identity, and good copy helps connect businesses with their target audience and influence them to take notice and take action.

In simple terms, good copy grabs people’s attention. It engages them through brand storytelling, compelling narratives, and (my favourite) clever wordplay. But copy isn’t just about being noticed. Persuasive copy can sway opinion and gently nudge consumers toward taking action.

Well-written copy allows your brand message to be heard over the noise made by your competitors. When that copy manages to tap into consumer desires, address their pain points, and highlight some unique selling points, then your business is well on its way to being seen as a trusted and credible brand that consumers will choose over others.

The real benchmark for the efficacy of good copy is its ability to convert prospects into loyal customers. Copy guides consumers through the buyer’s journey; from awareness to conversion, from hearing about your product or service to making a purchase.

Good copy doesn’t just increase brand visibility. It helps forge meaningful connections with customers and drives long-term growth. So why do so many businesses seem to ditch their marketing and copy efforts as soon as whispers of economic downturn begin?

Make the Recession Work for You

Make the Recession Work for You

Businesses face many challenges during tough economic periods. Recessions can be especially tough for businesses, but they can also offer unique opportunities.

Recessions can provide businesses with an opportunity to gain market share. As their competitors scale back their marketing and copywriting efforts in a bid to save money, gaps will emerge in the marketplace. This is where savvier businesses can swoop in and gain the attention of a consumer base who feel abandoned by their favourite brands.

If businesses can reach a wider audience and emphasise the strengths and benefits of their products or services during the tough economic times their consumers are facing, they will see an increase in sales during the recession and increase their market share in time for the economy to bounce back.

Take Advantage of Changing Consumer Behaviour

One of the most significant changes we see during a recession is a change in consumer behaviour. Just as the economy needs the boost of increased spending, consumers tighten the purse strings out of either caution or necessity. Consumers during a recession are more likely to scrutinise their spending by comparing prices more diligently to find the best deals.

Businesses need to stand out in order for consumers to choose their brand; this is true during times of economic strength as well as recession. A business needs to be innovative and quick to adapt to the changing economic environment. It must also understand the needs of its target market and communicate how its brand meets those needs.

Good copy helps businesses achieve those things. Copywriters tell engaging stories and communicate messages for businesses that help connect with customers emotionally, build brand loyalty, and grow their market share. By investing in exceptional copy that speaks directly to their target audience, businesses can set themselves apart from the competition and attract more customers, even in times of economic downturn.

Use Emotion

During a recession, consumers tend to be more cautious with their spending, making copy even more essential. Emotions play a massive role in purchasing decisions, especially during uncertain times.

We already know that consumers are more cautious with their spending during uncertain economic times. Well-written copy helps to steer consumers toward making a purchase even during recessions. How? Through emotion.

Emotions play an undeniable role in consumers’ purchasing decisions. Copywriters leverage emotional triggers to create a connection with the audience. When a copywriter creates messaging that resonates with the specific emotional triggers and pain points of a target audience, they create a narrative that inspires consumers to take action.

Good copy conveys brand messaging through storytelling designed to evoke empathy, prove authenticity, and frame the benefits of a product or service in a way that addresses the target audience’s emotional needs. This allows businesses to create a loyal consumer base that trusts the brand and will remain loyal to it for many years to come.

High-Impact Emotional Motivators

Copywriting is emotional

As consumers, we are driven by hundreds of emotional motivators. Some of these motivators significantly impact our perception of value. Brands can capitalise on these motivators by offering products and services that help us achieve our desired emotional states.

Here are 10 emotional motivators that significantly affect customer value when customers are asked, “I am inspired by / have a desire to:”

  1. Stand out from the crowd: Project a unique social identity / be seen as special.
  2. Have confidence in the future: Perceive the future as better than the past / have a positive mental picture of what’s to come.
  3. Enjoy a sense of well-being: Feel that life measures up to expectations and that balance has been achieved / seek a stress-free state without conflicts or threats.
  4. Feel a sense of freedom: Act independently, without obligations or restrictions.
  5. Feel a sense of thrill: Experience visceral, overwhelming pleasure and excitement / participate in exciting, fun events.
  6. Feel a sense of belonging: Have an affiliation with people they relate to or aspire to be like / feel part of a group.
  7. Protect the environment: Sustain the belief that the environment is sacred / take action to improve their surroundings.
  8. Be the person I want to be: Fulfil a desire for ongoing self-improvement / live up to their ideal self-image.
  9. Feel secure: Believe that what they have today will be there tomorrow / pursue goals and dreams without worry.
  10. Succeed in life: Feel that they lead meaningful lives / find worth that goes beyond financial or socioeconomic measures.

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Building Trust and Credibility Through Copy

Passion Led Us Here

Trust is crucial in the relationship between businesses and consumers. When making a purchase, subscribing to a service, or signing up for something, consumers want to feel secure and confident in their decision. To achieve this, businesses must craft transparent, authentic, and empathetic copy that is open about their values and addresses consumer concerns. This allows brands to build a connection with their target audience based on truth and respect.

Empathy is also important for consumers as it shows them that their concerns are being heard. Businesses can demonstrate empathy by acknowledging the challenges that are being faced by their target audience and offering solutions to those challenges with real care and understanding.

Kindness Pays

Remember, authenticity is the key. Consumers are more savvy than ever before, and increasingly, brand authenticity and “kindness” are factored into purchasing decisions as much as price and whether the product or service meets the potential consumer’s needs.

In such a connected age where business decisions can be communicated to hundreds of thousands of people at the push of a button thanks to social media, consumers are faster to make moral judgements about brands and make purchasing decisions based on those judgements.

Consumers want to ensure that the businesses they support subscribe to a similar ethos or ethical viewpoint. This is especially true during recessions, with 49% of consumers responding to a survey for Baringa more likely to buy from “kind” companies during difficult economic times as they want to see those businesses and brands succeed. Also, only 11% of respondents to the same survey stated that the recession has NOT influenced them to look into how “kind” or “unkind” the businesses they support are.

Building trust and credibility with your target audience requires transparency, authenticity, and empathy. By prioritising these qualities in their copy, businesses can establish a strong foundation for enduring customer relationships that last long after the recession ends. And how can you communicate your credibility to your target audience if you don’t craft copy that shows off your ethos?

Why You Should Invest in Copy During a Recession

When the economic outlook is grim, businesses tend to tighten their belts. One of the first things to go is usually the marketing budget. Why?

History has shown us time and again that investing in marketing and good copywriting during a recession serves not only to communicate to your target audience in times of economic need but also to lay the groundwork for your business to have sustained success when the economy bounces back.

We have seen with each recession that effective copywriting transcends the immediacy of the economic situation and leaves a lasting impact on consumer brand loyalty and perceptions of brand identity.

Businesses that Marketed to Survive Recession

Investing in marketing consistently pays off big during tough economic times. Many successful brands have increased their advertising efforts during recessions and come out even stronger.


During the Great Depression, while competitors pulled back, Kellogg’s increased its advertising spend. By the time the recession was over, Kellogg’s had overtaken the leading cereal supplier of the day to become number 1.


Toyota resisted the urge to cut its advertising budget during the 1973-75 recession, ultimately surpassing Volkswagen as the top imported carmaker in the U.S. by 1976.

Pizza Hut & Taco Bell

Fast food chain restaurants like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell capitalised on McDonald’s reduced advertising budget during the 1990-91 recession. While McDonald’s pinched pennies, Pizza Hut increased sales by 61%, Taco Bell sales grew by 40%, and McDonald’s sales dropped by 28%.

Del Monte Foods

During the 2008 recession, Del Monte Foods hired Bill Pearce as its first CMO. Pearce pushed the company forward through effective copy and increased its marketing budget, despite a slowdown in the wider economy. In just one year, the company went from a loss of $10.1 million to a Q1 profit of $58.6 million.

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Practical Tips for Investing in Copy During a Recession

Navigating a recession requires a formidable strategy. Despite budget cutbacks and constraints, businesses can still make vital investments in their copywriting efforts to maintain brand visibility and drive post-recession growth.

Here are the Empowered English top tips to enhance your copywriting during a recession:

  1. Core Messaging: Identify and prioritise a core message or messages that resonate with your target audience. Focus on value, pain points, and how your product or service meets consumer needs.
  2. Test, Test, Test: Consistently test different variations of your copy to gain valuable insight into what resonates best with your audience. Consider A/B testing or gathering customer feedback to refine your messaging and increase its effectiveness.
  3. User-Generated Content: Get your hands on some user-generated content. Encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences through testimonials and reviews to boost trust and credibility.
  4. Brand Building: Pay attention to long-term brand building by investing in storytelling that strengthens your brand identity. You want copy that builds emotional connections and cultivates customer loyalty over time.
  5. Employ the Best: Ditch the filler and invest in skilled copywriters with real expertise. At Empowered English, we write copy that works for you. That means we craft compelling narratives, tailor messaging to your target audiences, and drive meaningful engagement.

Final Thoughts

When recession threatens to rear its ugly head, the instinct to cut budgets and skimp on marketing is understandable. But consider this: cutting corners when it matters the most could be a costly mistake. Investing in good copy during an economic downturn is not just prudent – it is essential if you want your business to not just survive, but also thrive.

The impact of effective copywriting will outlast any economic struggles the world is currently facing. Compelling narratives and prescient messaging that resonates with your target audience will shape consumer perception of your brand and encourage lasting brand loyalty.

Remember, businesses that dared to invest in marketing during historic recessions emerged victorious. Take advantage of the busy market quieting down and steal the spotlight from your competitors. It will get louder again sooner than you think.

So, why should you invest in copy during a recession? You don’t just want to weather the storm; you want to thrive in it and emerge stronger on the other side. Investing in skilled copywriters who help you communicate your brand messaging effectively during tough economic times will position your brand for success when the economy pivots again.

At Empowered English, our speciality is writing copy that works for you and generates your actual returns. We don’t go in for flowery language or filler; we’re just a team of good writers who get stuff done and understand the power of good copy.

Stop listening to advisors trying to convince you to slash your marketing budget! Invest in good copy and grow your business during the recession.


A copywriter specialises in creating written content to persuade people to take a particular action, such as buying a product or service. Copywriters create content for various mediums, including advertisements, website copy, social media, email marketing, and more.

A copywriter’s primary responsibility is to create effective written content that engages and persuades the target audience to take a specific action. They work to understand the target audience and craft language and messaging that speaks to them, addressing their pain points and highlighting the benefits of a particular product or service. Copywriters also ensure their content is clear, concise, and grammatically correct.

Copywriting helps businesses effectively communicate their message to their target audience. Good copy can help a company stand out, build brand awareness, and drive sales. Effective copywriting can also establish trust with potential customers, helping to develop long-term relationships that can lead to repeat business.

Finding a good copywriter can be challenging, but you can do a few things to make the process easier. Start by looking for copywriters with experience in your industry or niche. You can also ask for referrals from colleagues or search for copywriters online. When evaluating potential copywriters, look for examples of their work, check their references, and ensure they are responsive and easy to work with.

Investing in copy during a recession is crucial for maintaining visibility and connecting with your target audience. Good copy helps your brand stand out, build trust, and drive consumer action, ultimately positioning your business for long-term success.

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