During a recession small businesses are faced with uncertain times. The natural tendency is to cut back on your marketing. This is not a good time to do that though. Your marketing and customer research budgets should be the last things that get cut.
It is well documented that the companies who maintain or increase their advertising during lean times can increase their market share at a lower cost than during up times. You need this research more than ever to allow you to see where your customers are coming from and what advertising is actually working. Use that information to fine tune your marketing efforts an cut any fat out that is not producing.
A key point to remember is that during a recession, peoples spending habits shift and you need to understand how that shift will affect your product or service in order to survive. In general, most people tend to take more time searching for goods and may even negotiate more at the sales point. They will also be more willing to postpone purchases, trade down or just buy less.
Recessions make consumers less adventurous about buying new unknown brands and will trust established brands. Remember that even though many are unemployed, more than 93% still have their jobs and income. Your customers are just being more careful about how and where they spend their money.
This attitude makes it more important than ever that you understand your customers, how they found you, what they are looking for and what problems they are trying to solve. Work even more on your market research to understand what people are buying.