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 Williams
CEO & Founder, REED
There was no parachute. When Lauren quit her job as a senior director at a national PR and marketing agency, she jumped without a net. There was no next job lined up. No lucrative book deal signed. No beach villa in St. Tropez waiting for her new life as a trophy wife. Lauren didn’t need any of that. She had faith in herself. Faith that she would stick the landing. No safety net or parachute needed. Within a few weeks – yes, weeks – she’d started REED Public Relations and had a roster of amazing clients. Just like that, the agency was well on its way to making a lasting impact on the Nashville PR scene. Industry accolades back up Lauren as a rising star. She earned her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) designation in 2010 and is a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Women Presidents’ Organization, former president of PRSA Nashville and recipient of the PRSA Nashville 2011 Mercury Award, which recognizes the top young PR professional in the Nashville market. Most recently, Lauren was named to the Nashville Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, and its Most Admired CEO list in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. REED PR has also been named one of the Business Journal’s Best Places to Work, and Lauren has been named to Nashville Post's In Charge List in 2021, 2022 an 2023. Even with all of her awards and the tremendous work she has done, she still says one of her greatest professional accomplishments was creating REED PR’s Be The Good program, which reserves a portion of the agency’s revenue to provide travel grants to individuals who want to do volunteer or mission work at home or abroad.

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