How to Maintain and Build Brand Awareness and Market Share During a Recession

January 30 2023

In a recession, it’s common to put on the brakes, forget about your long-term plans and cut back spending to save as much as you can. However, if not done strategically, this short-term gain can create long-term pain, and any immediate savings are simply an illusion when you look at the overall business outlook. 

PR and marketing efforts are a long game, not an instant win. When you commit to the knee-jerk reaction of putting your marketing strategy on the back burner, you can potentially put a stop to the marketing momentum that you’ve built up over the years. After cutting marketing out of your budget, it’s likely that you’ll look up in 12 to 18 months and wonder where all your leads went. Chances are, your competitors will be making similar choices leading up to or during a recession, so I encourage you to stand out from the crowd.

Photo by D koi on Unsplash

While I do recommend continuing your PR and marketing efforts, this does not mean you have to continue utilizing the same tactics that you employed pre-recession. This is an ideal time to look at all spending and determine where you get the most ROI (return on investment).

I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s OK to shift what your tactics and budget look like, and your efforts cannot be maximized if you’re saturating your market with no intentionality or mindfulness. 

Realign Your Goals with the Issues at Hand

At the start of any crisis, you should ask yourself why you’re marketing. What are your goals?  What are you hoping to generate in the short and long term? What do your clients want to see? And most importantly, what do they need? 

Your tactics should always be driven by the answers to these questions, while looking for ways to further innovate and evolve your business. 

For example, when Covid-19 hit in 2020, REED Public Relations’ leads for long-term retainer projects slowed down, but our crisis projects picked up significantly. This caused the agency to pivot and adjust all of our marketing efforts toward the needs at hand. Due to our intentional and mindful goal setting, this economic restraint led to our now thriving senior living division.

Asking yourself these questions will allow you to realign your company with the issues and needs at hand.

Once you have taken these priorities into consideration, you will likely see the need to continue PR and marketing efforts but will want to modify the tactics currently being employed.

If you’ve been utilizing a tactic that looks great but costs a significant amount of money, maybe it’s time to switch to a grassroots approach. For example, instead of a heavy presence at a trade show, consider submitting guest columns to your industry publications to position your company as a thought leader. 

As a rule of thumb, you should only put time and money into the strategies that meet your goals and give you the most ROI.

Put Your Goals into Action  

One way to build brand awareness and market share while ensuring your marketing efforts are impactful during an economic downturn is by providing thought leadership and insight to others. 

In layman’s terms: Be helpful!

When you provide strategic advice to others, you’re positioning yourself as useful and elevating your profile as a cool, calm and collected leader in your industry.

If you’re not sure where to start, begin by refreshing your efforts. Make sure your communication foundations are solid as they’re the key to a successful campaign. Then, analyze your tactics. If you previously focused on in-person activations, turn your focus to email marketing and improve your blog content. These tactics are much lower in cost and typically just as effective. If your budget for attending conferences was cut, create your own Zoom meet-up or webinar series to engage your community.

Another way to elevate your brand during a recession is by allocating time to look for outside marketing talent. If you’re experiencing a recession, chances are that other people are facing the same hardships. Unfortunately, like most other industries, a recession can cause marketers all over the world to find themselves without a job. Many of these individuals will want to keep their skill sharp while they look for their next position, and it is a great opportunity to bring in some extremely talented people on a contract basis, giving your marketing a fresh perspective. You are getting a level of talent you otherwise might not have access to as they transition into new fields.

Be Mindful of Others

Lastly, it’s always important to remember that economic circumstances can affect reporters and newsrooms just as much as they do in our own industries. Making their jobs as easy as possible can benefit your marketing in the long run. Be kind, build relationships with them and lighten their load by providing them with fully formed storylines and written pieces. Guest columns are a wonderful tool because they relieve some of the pressure from the journalist, but they also allow you to further your thought leadership efforts by providing expert insight to the public.

All in all, it’s undeniable that economic restraint creates needs that are in turn addressed with unprecedented innovation and opportunity.

Step back and reassess your goals, take advantage of the opportunities and most importantly, create an abundance mindset.

The world is ever-evolving, so naturally, marketing and the results it provides may look different. You must continue utilizing it to see results. There is always more than one way to achieve your goals, so staying nimble and being able to pivot is invaluable.

Lauren Reed
President, REED Public Relations
I am a communications professional with a passion for delivering top-notch results. I lead a team of ten as we create and direct award-winning public relations campaigns that build and protect brands. In addition to running Reed Public Relations, which I founded in 2012, I'm a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a past president of PRSA Nashville, and the recipient of the PRSA Nashville 2011 Mercury Award, which recognizes the market’s top young PR professionals. Most recently, I have been recognized as one of Nashville’s Top 40 Under 40 (2018), received the NBJ’s Most Admired CEO award for five straight years and was named to the InCharge list by the Nashville Post. The award I am most proud of, however, is when our agency was one of the NBJ’s Best Places to Work multiple times.