Make Marketing Suck Less

How to Keep Your Message Relevant During an Economic Downturn

There has been a disturbance in the force.

Or, a shift in the market.

When I first started offering brand messaging in 2018, the economy was cooking with gas. The stock market was on fire, the job market was stable, and consumer outlook was positive.

And when the economy was great, clients would come to me with the hope that their message would allow them to reach their full potential. Maybe that full potential was landing a book deal with a traditional publisher or speaking on a TEDx stage. My clients have aspirations and messaging was the way to fulfill that aspiration.

Flash forward to 2022.

The economy has a big case of the weirds. Inflation is high, consumers are uncertain about spending, and now when clients come to me, the problem they want to solve has dramatically shifted.

And that shift is key to keeping your message relevant during an economic downturn.



In this episode:

  • How changes in the economy mean changes in what basic needs your messaging is trying to meet
  • Why you need to consider if your messaging is addressing concrete or aspirational goals
  • How to pivot your message so you communicate the value of your offer in these uncertain times

Learn more about Michelle Mazur:



Listen on your favorite podcast player or read the Transcript below:


Speaker 1 (00:00): There has been a disturbance in the force or a shift in the market. When I first started offering brand messaging in 2018, the economy was cooking with gas, the stock market was on fire, the job market was stable, and consumer outlook was positive. And when the economy was great, clients would come to me with the hope that their message would allow them to reach their full potential. And maybe that full potential was landing a book deal with a traditional publisher or speaking on a Tedx stage. My clients had aspirations and messaging was the way to fulfill that aspiration. But now a flash forward to 2022, and the economy has a big case of the weirds. Inflation is high. Consumers are uncertain about spending. And what I've noticed in my business is that what people come to me for has changed. The problem they want solve has dramatically shifted. And this change, this shift is key to keeping your message relevant during an economic downturn. So let's dive in.

(01:31): Get ready for the Rebel Uprising Podcast. The only podcast dedicated to business owners who feel overlooked for their expertise, skills, and experience. Let's claim your expertise and turn your complex ideas into unmistakable messaging that grows your business. I am your host, Dr. Michelle Mazur, the author of the 3 Word Rebellion and your rebel truth telling guide to building a business that gets noticed. When I first started creating brand messaging with the 3 Word Rebellion framework, people wanted to create their three word rebellion and all the messaging that supports it because they thought the message was key to landing a book deal with a traditional publisher, or being asked to speak on a TEDx stage. They believed that kneeling their message would give them more recognition and respect. They would be seen as the go-to, the industry leader. And basically this message would help them realize their full potential.

(02:45): Which brings us back to what we talked about in the last episode with Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The clients who came to me back in the day when the economy was thriving, all had their basic needs met physiological, safety and security. And those clients saw my work as a way to meet their needs for recognition and esteem. So my messaging needed to talk about those needs for recognition, esteem, self-actualization because it just made sense. That's what my clients are looking for. However, now with the shift in the economy, when I get an intake form from someone who is interested in working with me, the problems they are looking to solve, the needs they want met are no longer about achieving respect and recognition, but they want to work on the more basic needs, security and stability in their business. So here's what I'm currently seeing on my intake firms.

(04:05): Typically, my clients tend to be service providers or consultants, and they're working one on one and they've been really killing it through word of mouth. That's where all of their clients are coming from. They're doing a little to no marketing. Some of them don't even have websites to be honest, and now they want a more leveraged business model. Most of my clients are thinking about starting some kind of group program or more leveraged offer so that they can make more money, which is a basic need, impact more people with their work, which is an esteem need and work less, another basic need. So to do that, to have that more leverage program, there's some concrete issues they need to solve. They know they need to market and marketing sucks for them, and they know they need to build an audience to sell the more leveraged program too, and they don't want to waste their time and money doing marketing because it has been so ineffective in the past.

(05:17): And trust me, they have tried it all. Tried all the courses, the masterminds, business programs, everything and marketing has never worked. So they realized in order to market effectively and not waste their time, money, and energy on marketing, they need a message so that they can build the audience and then finally launch the group program. Those, my friends, are some pretty freaking functional needs and pretty concrete problems that messaging can solve. And by the way, it's so much easier to sell using these concrete problems, these more functional needs, because I can see the direct mind between how messaging actually serves those needs and it's just an easier sell. I'm just saying. It's one of the upsides of being in a topsy turvy economy. So now that I know that, I know that my messaging needs to pivot in order to stay relevant. My people aren't looking to speak at TEDx or get a traditional book deal.

(06:32): They still might have that in the back of their head, but that's not the pressing problem they're coming to me with. Their aspirational goals are really on the back burner at the moment, and they're focusing on the functional side of what messaging can do for your business. So to stay relevant, I have to pivot and rebel truth. In an economic downturn, people aren't investing in their aspirations as much. So if you are messaging to aspirations and self-actualization and realizing their full potential, that's a tougher sell than solving oppressing need that impacts their basic needs according to Maslow. So what does this mean for you and how can your message stay relevant during this economic weird time we're all going through? Well, the first step is to assess your current message. Is your message focused on the aspirational wants of your clients or their concrete needs?

(07:51): And let's face it, we are trained to speak to those more aspirational values and goals. That is what online marketing is. It's the message of live your best life, have the seven figure business, be all that you can be so that you can give back. And those messages are effective and impactful when the economy is good. If you are listening to this podcast and realizing that, "Hey, you know what, I'm not having the sales that I want to have. My business isn't generating the revenue it should be generating." Then it might be time for you to work on your message and figure out that comprehensive strategy for how to build that argument for your work and turn people who don't know you at all into people who are ready and willing to sign up to work with you. And this is exactly the work we do in the three word rebellion messaging intensive.

(09:06): So if you're digging this episode and you're thinking, "Yes, this is my next step, or it could be my next step." Then I encourage you to go to, the number 3, wr. That's, and apply for a free consultation call. That way you and I can discuss if messaging is the right move for your business. Now, back to the show. So how can you assess your message and see if you're focusing on those more aspirational wants or the more functional needs? A great guide for figuring this out comes from the Harvard Business Review. It's called The Elements of Value, which is based on, you guessed it, Maslow's hierarchy of needs and we're going to link that up in the show notes. Because at the base of this pyramid are the functional and emotional needs versus the top of the pyramid is life changing or social impact.

(10:17): And during a wonky economy, we want to be focusing on the functional that solves the concrete problem. So the first step is to look at your current messaging. Are you talking to more of those life changing, transformational social impact elements of value? Or are you speaking more to the functional or emotional values? Then once you know that, you can move to step two, which is identifying what functional needs your offers help with. And once again, I am looking at the Harvard Business Review article for the elements of value. The first thing I will say about identifying the functional needs is that client research is extremely helpful here. You can identify what your clients are saying against the elements of value. So I told you at the top of the show what my clients are saying to me currently. And when I look at the functional level of value in the lens of my own message, I see the messaging work I must do. Because my clients now are talking about things that are functional, like saving time, simplifying, especially simplifying marketing.

(11:36): They want to make money, that is a functional value. They want to avoid the hassles of ineffective marketing. They want organization and structure of their message and how to apply it in their marketing. So when you look at this article and assess how your offer creates value, that speaks to the functional level. Pick two or three of those elements of value, and then you can move on to step three, which is messaging to those elements of value. Obviously, you don't just want to list the elements of value on a sales page, saves time, simplifies, makes money, organizes. No, you need to translate them into how they are showing up in your client's life as problems, and then tell them how your offer creates that value. This is what I'm always talking to about, building an argument for your work. You need to show how your work is relevant right now to your clients, how it meets their needs, or solves a problem for them, and then lead them to the offer because the offer is what's creating the value.

(12:56): So for my people, I know they don't want to waste time trying to figure out what their message is. Most of them have full practices. They don't have time to screw around. And I know from the research I've done that my people spend on average three years trying to figure out their message. Three years. They are done with screwing around with this because they want to grow their audience and launch that group program because they want an easier way to make money and make more money. So a message that I can test with this audience is get your message handled in 90 days. That's going to be appealing to someone who wants to save time. And I can also make the argument about how the right message leads the right people to join their email community and hire them and join their group programs. This is the money function of the elements of value.

(14:01): And notice, I'm not doing any of that slimy stuff of making income claims, but I definitely see how messaging leads to more clients and more money, and I can make that argument. Now I can pivot my message so that I stay relevant and top of mind to the needs of my clients. Let's face it. Me helping them figure out their message so they can build the audience and have the group program they've always wanted to have, which is going to make them more money and help them serve more people, is a far more urgent and relevant message than get a book deal or be a TEDx speaker. So when I can pivot the message, it's easier for me to build a relevant argument for why people should work with me. And in turn, sales and lead generation for you will be easier when you start focusing on the more functional value your business creates, because that's what people are looking for in this economy. Now it's your turn to assess, identify and pivot your message to stay relevant to your people and navigate this uncertain economic time.

(15:28): If the Rebel Uprising Podcast is helping you claim and communicate your expertise so that your clients can find and hire you, please share the show with a friend. The easiest way to do that is through PodLink. You can find the show at And that page will allow anyone you share the show with to subscribe and start listening in their favorite podcast player. That's The Rebel Uprising Podcast is a production of Yellow House Media. Our production coordinator is Lou Blazer. Our production assistant is Emily [inaudible 00:16:07]. The pod is edited by Stephen Mills. Our executive producers are Sean and Tara McMullin. The Rebel Uprising podcast is recorded on the unseated traditional land of the Coast Salish Peoples, specifically the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish people, original stewards of the land, past and present.

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