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This week’s PPCChat session was hosted by Julie F Bacchini. PPC experts discussed about how they tackle downturn resulted from economical changes.


Here is the screencap of the discussion that took place.


Q1: Have you been through a downturn cycle before? If so, when and how did it impact you?


I got into the industry in 2008. Different market. Digital was the only thing blowing up, so had no impact on me. Hard to say how bad an impact a future one would have. – @ppcguru

In 2008, I was just dabbling in ppc. I was doing a lot of SEO at the same time. For me it was the start of my journey of going from in-house to freelance to agency. – @mikecrimmins

I haven’t been as a working adult in this industry – the last downturn I was in school – @amaliaefowler

Yes, and it sucked, but it impacts vertical differently. Last time I saw vice’s and pharma go through the roof, while everything else went down. It really requires a bit of understanding how to allocate time more than anything. – @JonKagan

yes. I was doing all this during 2008 and client attitudes were very different than they are now. – @JuliaVyse

No…… but I imagine budgets get slashed – @markpgus

he most memorable was 2008. I was literally waiting to see a new client to sign a big contract when the stock market crashed. He did not sign it. – @NeptuneMoon

We had a bit of a downturn with oil companies a while back. They ended up cutting budgets quite a bit which just made us focus fun getting creative with the funds. – @adwordsgirl

Yep, SEO SaaS company went bankrupt in 2013 after Big G decided they did not like our solution. – @ThatSearchGuyNL

In 2008-2009 I worked for a small agency that handled booking software for small ma and pa/BandBs in the hotel industry. I was managing their AdWords accounts. People started traveling less, we got hit hard. – @ericdfarmer

Having worked for a decade. Been there the 2008-2009 one up in Canada. Lost my job in 2009 and had to reinvent what I do a bit. – @duanebrown

We’ve had a slight downturn or two here and there with PPC clients who ended contracts within a month or so of starting because of unqualified/spam returns. Thankfully, we had other on-going and new PPC clients to lessen the impact. – @marccxmedia



Q2: Are you seeing any indicators from clients, or in your industry if you’re in-house, that make you think a downturn might be brewing? If so, what are you seeing?


None from the clients yet. Some may be helped by a downturn. Depends on a few other factors coming from Washington DC too. – @mikecrimmins

Honestly, not yet. – @JonKagan

Fortunately, no! a lot of the clients that I’ve been working with our fighting for a higher ad spend for 2019 right now with their managers. – @adwordsgirl

honestly not yet. I’m hearing that people are thinking a downturn could happen, but they’re talking about revenue more than advertising spend. ah the joys of enterprise – @JuliaVyse

No were not – @elevatedmrktng

Not really from clients. But leading economists think a recession/correction is inevitable within the the next 2 years. – @jdprater

Everyone keeps saying one will happen. Having mostly USA clients, it’s something I can keep in mind even when times are good up here in Canada. We don’t over hire and keep cash flow & profitability strong. – @duanebrown

Not yet. We’re seeing budgets change for the winter season but that’s the normal seasonality effect and not to do with the economy afaik – @amaliaefowler

This is the first I’ve heard of anything tbh….. Didn’t know I was out of the loop – @markpgus

I am not seeing anything directly from clients yet, but I am seeing a lot of general reporting and my own observation of market behavior that is making me think it is probably coming. – @NeptuneMoon

I haven’t seen indicators of a downturn but I’m seeing clients finally pay attention to recommendations we’ve been making for years as they’re realizing PPC isn’t/won’t always be a magic bullet so they need to become more holistic w/ their marketing. – @Pamela_Lund

Not from clients or industry, but man the ad platforms are VERY thirsty right now.. – @ferkungamaboobo

no signs from clients yet, economy still booming in EU. – @ThatSearchGuyNL

None currently, but it depends on the client. We have a hospitality client currently, and one thing we keep in the back of our minds is that there’s a finite customer base in a sense. – @marccxmedia



Q3: Do you have any type of plan or strategy in place that you deploy when you start to see things turning sour economically? If so, what is it?


The biggest lesson I learned is someone is always hiring. Find those who are and make connections. Sell more strategy. If you are not… diversify your revenue. – @duanebrown

No plan, but making sure my skills and clients (as much as I can control that) are diversified. – @mikecrimmins

it really depends on the vertical and the client. A downturn doesn’t just relate to ad spend, it can change company priorities. In very broad general terms, I like to pitch pitch pitch. The more clients I have, with a variety of budgets, the safer I am. – @JuliaVyse

This really depends on the industry and how sour, but typically budgets/staffing tighten up – @jdprater

The best defense is a good offense. Have a varied client portfolio so if one industry has a downturn, another will pick up. Also, have (and use) a budget so you can save money for lean years so you can ride it out. – @Pamela_Lund

Omnichannel for sure but I’m not sure that is really an economic thing but just a platform security thing – @elevatedmrktng

If I start to feel like clients are getting nervous or wanting to pull back during more difficult economic times, I like to remind them that there is also opportunity to take marketshare from those who are slashing spend. – @NeptuneMoon

While there is no formal plan it is really just preventative at this point. Diversification, watching our hires, ensuring we have the budget to make it through a downturn. – @amaliaefowler

The best way to handle this stuff is diversification of clients across niches, industries, and locations. – @ferkungamaboobo

Not presently. We do have some strategies in mind if accounts take a turn for the worse, but that’s more micro than macro – @marccxmedia

nothing special to our industry, general entrepreneurism yes -> diversify clientelle – @ThatSearchGuyNL

The biggest lesson I learned is someone is always hiring. Find those who are and make connections. Sell more strategy. If you are not… diversify your revenue. – @duanebrown

t would make sense that many companies looking to scale quickly might have to pull back and focus on driving costs down (CPAs) and maintain what works. – @ericdfarmer

I start to move toward volume and lean less toward efficiency, to help ensure client revenue streams – @JonKagan



Q4: Are there ways that you change your account strategy or management if the economy slows down significantly?


yes and no. Yes because I’m with a co. that buys all media, so we can fall back on tv, radio, podcasts, yt, we’re diversified. No because i only do performance, and if my clients get scared of auction based due to budget, old gil is out on the street! – @JuliaVyse

Usually we’re pretty flexible with scope, we’ll overdeliver and not look at profitability as much as client service. While we still serve our clients as best we can in a downturn, we tighten up some of that to retain more profit during those times – @amaliaefowler

Such a tough question. What I’ve typically seen is cutting anything not “working” which means only focusing on bottom of funnel. Which means growth slows. – @jdprater

A downturn can actually be a great time to get a client to finally move off of something that has not been effective, but they have loved for some non-business reason.. – @NeptuneMoon

emphasize ways to reduce cost of advertising, increase my own sales activities to compensate lost revenue/clients – @ThatSearchGuyNL

Change the message to address why people would buy now. For example, appeal to logic & sensibility (less than a daily latte!) rather than luxury & comfort Ad copy is all psychology. – @Pamela_Lund

At the account level, you can do some things. But folks’ buying behavior is based on *their* assessment of personal finances, not really macro effects – @ferkungamaboobo

nothing to universal, but we def try and do a money grab on the revenue before we’re forced to slow – @JonKagan

One reason we bake in a strategy fee with each client. Part of our fee doesn’t depend on how much a client spends. Downturns usually means less money but need more strategy help/hands on deck – @duanebrown

I was actually working for an agency during that downturn so I’m not entirely sure what they did but I feel like if there was one now, I would do my best to just keep cost low. – @adwordsgirl

Likely reallocating budget, trimming keywords and ads that are wasting money, etc. – @marccxmedia



Q5: What is the worst thing a client could decide to do during a downturn?


Not have a plan of action. if you hesitate or are slow to action then you’re toast. – @jdprater

stop all advertising. – @JuliaVyse

Turn everything off and stop advertising. ESPECIALLY if Paid drives the majority of their converting traffic. – @amaliaefowler

Close their doors… But seriously, it could be dangerous to play it safe. If done right, you can still be aggressive. Obviously it depends on the vertical. – @ericdfarmer

Seen them do it; cut budget that has hugely positive _short term_ ROI…seriously. Accounting is a skill. Turning of ads might definately make sense if cashflow is an issue and ads do not have short term positive ROI – @ThatSearchGuyNL

The worst is to stop all advertising. Next worst is to not listen to what the market is telling you and therefore not adapt accordingly. – @NeptuneMoon

urn off all media like a light switch – @JonKagan

Stop all advertising.– @adwordsgirl

Cutting budgets on a flat percentage. For example, cutting all budgets by 25%. Needs to be a smarter approach. – @robert_brady

Cancel the Ads campaign is the top Worst Thing a client could do in a downturn. – @marccxmedia


Q6: If you could tell clients one thing that they should be doing (or not doing) and/or thinking about now as a downturn is becoming a bigger possibility in 2019, what would that be?


Start forecasting and modeling what that could mean for your business, revenue, and marketing mix. I can’t stress enough that forcing the convo now is paramount to success when it happens. – @jdprater

Know what your competitors are doing – monitoring this should be a regular part of your marketing strategy. Do what you can to strengthen your position NOW. Evaluate what you’ve been doing honestly & move forward deliberately. – @NeptuneMoon

Solve your fundamentals first. Know where your product sits in the market and what would knock it off its pedestal. Know why people buy your product, and how your product meets your customers needs. – @ferkungamaboobo

comb through your site engagement behavior, and start building lists of your top consumers, to create lookalike audiences, because you’re going to need to advertise to only them going forward – @JonKagan

i’d advise clients to work on a business proposition that would help their clients reduce their cost. First reaction from most biz in downtorun is: reduce cost. Help them accomplish that and your biz will thrive. – @ThatSearchGuyNL

Cut anything that is not worth investing in, in 2019. Focus on growing what is working. Unless you have an amazing idea and strong cash flow, now is not the time to launch a new product. – @duanebrown

Create a succession plan in the event of A or B. Don’t overreact and hit the panic button. – @JGeestar



Q7: For those who have been through this type of cycle before, what are some things you wished you knew now that you might not have known then? If you have not been through this, what would you like to know from those who have?


The more diverse your client base, the more likely you are to come out unscathed. Diversify your skill set too – become versed in something new. – @Mel66

this is the reason you don’t bill on a % of spend! – @JonKagan

Serious answer here. Start looking at other opportunities because losing your job is a very real possibility (esp in agency life). – @ericdfarmer

I wish i would have been closer to the customer. That’s gonna be key as move forward marketing in the experience economy. – @jdprater

I wish I knew then that silos don’t help. You can reduce investment in pricey platforms, as long as you’re making them do all the work they can by connecting them, using all the tools in your toolkit to make business results happen with your media. – @JuliaVyse

It will be ok, if you are proactive about things. LISTEN to what your clients are telling you – get to the root of what is keeping them up at night and find solutions to that. Sell what people want to buy and be ok with that. Plan for what’s next. – @NeptuneMoon

Too many to mention. Diversify client base, diversify product offerting, have flexible contracts with employees, have >6 months MRR in the bank, extract worrth from your company and invest in different assets.  – @ThatSearchGuyNL

Everyone gets fired, losses a job or gets let go through no fault of their own. Best thing you can do is have a nest egg to help build your personal runway  – @duanebrown


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