Contrarian Marketing
Contrarian Marketing Podcast
2023 will get tough, but you still need to win

2023 will get tough, but you still need to win

The Contrarian Marketing Podcast Episode #1

This episode is available on:

2023 will get tough, but you still need to win

With 2022 being a year of reset from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, marketers are pumped to kickstart ambitious plans for 2023. But many are blind to how 2022 has truly shaped – and will make the mistake of focusing on top-line customer acquisition.


2022 started with a constant fear of an economic downturn and now ending with mass layoffs across the many stable corporations across the world.

This means lower demand across B2B businesses and, eventually, for B2C brands too. In such a scenario, it’s crucial for marketers to understand how demand works and its impact on your marketing campaign performance.

“I'm afraid that we are entering some sort of contracted demand reality.” — Eli Schwartz

So, how does one increase their website traffic and conversions as digital consumers interact and search less online?

Is it wise to plan for SEO, or do we need to get creative?

In this episode of Contrarian Marketing, Eli Schwartz, Consultant to brands like Tinder, Coinbase and WordPress, and Kevin Indig, Advisor to brands like Snapchat, Riverside or Ramp, discuss how marketers can still win in 2023 while navigating an uncertain demand in the market.

5 ways to win 2023

The recession will significantly disrupt marketing plans for 2023.

To not get caught up in a treadmill, you need to:

  1. Understand how demand works to pivot quickly

  2. Avoid granularity, stay broad

  3. Look for gold in your customer database

  4. Search for options to keep the business at least flatlined

  5. Communicate effectively and manage expectations

1. Focus on tracking your key metrics to make quick pivot decisions

Kevin further adds how brands may experience sudden drops or increase in traffic, yet their metrics, like SEO rankings, may stay the same:

“Focus on efficiency metrics, and if your inputs are stable, but the output grows, then there's probably a macro trend at play here. Keep or hold teams accountable for efficiency metrics. One thing that I think is super important here is to increase your reactivity. As the macro landscape changes, increase the cadence at which you look at certain metrics. You will not be able to see what's gonna work next year and to know where you're going to land now. But if you constantly get a pulse and a check on what's happening, That at least allows you to maneuver quickly and pivot fast. ” — Kevin Indig

2. Get broader, not granular

“Next year is about doing broader things rather than really digging into tactics, which there are probably many markers sitting around and planning their tactics for next year.” — Eli Schwartz 

It’s important for marketers not to get stuck with the highs of seasonality or macro trends. Eli mentions how people paid for Netflix or Peleton because they had money.

But with the recession, you need to get creative with your target audience:

“So people might search less for women's sneakers or men's coats, but they look for cheap women's sneakers and cheap men's coats?” — Kevin Indig

3. Reactivate your customers

Explore ways to get back to lost demand and focus on customer retention. Design lucrative deals or offers to make it appealing for them to do business with you again.

“Go back into the churn box and see – hey, which customers did I lose?

Is there a segment of customers that I should get in touch with again, maybe, offer them a certain deal or some incentive to come back as customers?” — Kevin Indig

4. Create predictability with annual contracts

Push more customers into an annual subscription or an annual deal if you provide monthly.

Recessions are about getting as much predictability as possible. Long-term predictability is really key here, even if it means a drop in revenue. Your revenue is gonna drop no matter what.

So rather than losing clients, there might be a good opportunity here to make them a really lucrative offer that you wouldn't make otherwise, just to keep them and to keep cash flows predictable.” — Kevin Indig

5. Set the expectations with executives

Many marketers will face tough questions from management about the dips they will witness in traffic due to the economic downturn. Here are a few suggestions discussed in this episode on how to navigate the same:

“Start communicating that the train is coming down the tunnel. If you don't, then you're gonna be in this situation - maybe in January, maybe in February - where suddenly everything's down. Things are being masked right now because we're in the holiday season.” — Eli Schwartz 

“The personal OKR for everyone should be communication.  You have to sell! When your CEO comes over and says, your marketing is terrible’ You need to be able to say, ‘My marketing isn't terrible, your economy is terrible.’”

The contrarian view

  1. Flat is the new growth. If you come out flat next year, you're probably doing a good job. 

  2. Think of yourself as a stock. If you can forecast it, you don't surprise anyone.

  3. It sucks to miss the train, but it doesn't if you weren't even planning on taking it.” — Quote from the book Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

How does the economic downturn affect demand across Search?

Kevin explains the impact macroeconomic patterns have on the demand for your products and services:

“Because of the recession or the economic downturn, fewer people will search on Google for many topics. And so even if you rank really well for keywords, you might just see less traffic cause there's less search demand.”  — Kevin Indig

The pendulum effect

The demand across the consumer market is facing repeated contraction and release due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its recovery, and now again with the alleged recession. Kevin Indig explains this pattern as follows:

“You have this pendulum effect due to the post covid effect. Basically, people have been at home for two years or more. Now they're really excited to travel again, to go out and have fun. Yet, at the same time, (you have) an economic downturn, inflation is at a record high, and people start saving money.” — Kevin Indig


  • Twitter thread by Patrick Campbell, founder of Profit Well: shares strategies to navigate the recession

  • Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: read the book to understand how to find or create options so that you're less sensitive to single events that can harm you significantly.

  • Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: read the book to know how to navigate improbable and unpredictable events.


“TikTok will go much, much more aggressively into e-commerce and search because the recession and Apple Tracking Transparency (ATT) stunt its growth.” — Kevin Indig

“Joe Biden is not going to run for reelection, which means that we're now gonna have a two-party election. So both the Democrats and the Republicans are gonna have candidates, which means for marketers, they're going to spend a crazy amount of money on this election, and it might even pull us out of a recession.” — Eli Schwartz

Join the conversation

Subscribe to the newsletter for a free summary, key takeaways, and community content once a week.

While you’re here, please leave your opinion about today’s topic in the comments. We want to hear from you and will feature the best thoughts in the newsletter and on the podcast.

Leave a comment

Finally, we would really appreciate it if you subscribed to Contrarian Marketing on Spotify/Apple podcasts/Youtube.

Thank you!

Eli and Kevin

Contrarian Marketing
Contrarian Marketing Podcast
Once a week, Eli and Kevin share contrarian marketing opinions about the topic du jour to give you ideas you might not be thinking about.