Tauhir Jones
Tauhir Jones

Is your business prepared for the next recession? Even if you can’t predict when it will happen, you can take steps to insulate your company from the fallout.

The current economic conditions make it critical for businesses to maximize the efficacy of their budgets. And as companies feel the pinch of the looming recession, marketing and PR budgets are often the first to be cut.

However, scaled-back marketing efforts can do more harm than good in a recession. Companies that maintain or increase their marketing spend during downtimes often see significantly higher growth rates in the short run and even when the economy rebounds. So, while some companies are pulling back on their spending, many resourceful marketers are finding innovative ways to keep their PR and digital marketing activities afloat.

Making some essential adjustments can safeguard your brand and maintain visibility during economic uncertainty. Here are several tips that will help you stay ahead of the curve, no matter what happens in the future.

This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Nov. '22 Technology PR Magazine
(view PDF version)

Keep your message clear and focused

In times of economic uncertainty, keeping your message clear and focused is more important than ever. Chances are, you know your target audience and what they want. However, needs, perceptions and processes have changed dramatically over the last two years. Using outdated target market data will make it harder for prospects to understand what you do or how you can help them. So, take the time to define your target audience, craft a message that resonates with them now and convince them that you have the answers to their critical questions.

Focus on the data that matters

If you’re in the business of marketing or public relations, then you know that data is everything. The correct data can help you make better decisions, craft more effective strategies and ultimately grow your business. But with so much data out there, it can be challenging to know where to focus your attention. It can be tempting for companies to track every metric under the sun to garner insights that will give them a competitive edge. However, there are a few critical metrics for marketing and PR in a down economy: reach, leads created and conversions.

Regarding reach, consider both the quantity and quality of the impressions you’re making. For example, having your ad appear on a high-traffic website is great, but if your target customer isn’t visiting that site, your ad isn’t doing much to help you achieve your business goals.

Another essential metric to track is the number of leads generated. This metric tells you how effectively your marketing and PR efforts generate interest in your product or service. You need to reevaluate your strategy if you’re not generating enough leads.

Conversions are the measure of how successful your marketing or PR efforts are in terms of achieving tangible business results. Typically, conversions are measured in online sales or sign-ups, but they can also be offline sales, CTA clicks or phone calls. Whatever metric you use to track conversions, ensure that it ties directly to your business goals.

Keep your team lean and mean

One way to cut costs during a recession is by keeping your marketing and PR team lean and mean—that is, focused on essential functions and trimmed of any unnecessary fat. This doesn’t mean letting go of good people. Instead, it means ensuring everyone on your team focuses on tasks that directly contribute to your bottom line. For example, your social media expert should focus on tasks like creating engaging content that delivers recession-sensitive messaging or running ads that generate leads. Focusing on “softer” goals such as thought leadership or “likes” doesn’t deliver prospects into the funnel.

Automate your marketing

Marketing automation software enables companies to automate repetitive tasks, freeing up time and resources that can be better used elsewhere. For example, social media posts can be scheduled in advance, drip campaigns can be run automatically and automated follow-up emails can help move prospects through the sales funnel. Marketing automation saves time and money but it also allows companies to be more strategic and data-driven in their marketing efforts.

There are a wide variety of marketing automation platforms on the market, each with its unique features and capabilities. However, all good marketing automation platforms share some commonalities: they should be user-friendly, offer robust reporting capabilities and integrate with other business software such as customer relationship management systems.

At Karbo Communications, we use Sendinblue, which has powerful features like automation workflows, segmentation and personalization and a user-friendly interface that doesn’t require you to be a tech expert to use.

Increase your focus on earned media

Advertisers tend to pull back on spending during economic downturns, leading to reduced paid media placements. Earned media placements are more resilient in a recession so focus on media coverage. Work with a reputable agency to develop relationships with journalists, identify newsworthy trends and create high-quality content to stand out from the competition.

Unlike traditional advertising, which is often interruptive and sales-focused, content marketing provides value first and foremost. Because of this, it can be an extremely effective way to build trust with potential customers, especially during a recession. Invest in high-quality blog posts, infographics, eBooks, podcasts, videos and other types of content that will help you attract attention and build relationships with potential customers. Remember that people are looking for valuable, actionable information during a recession to help them make informed decisions—not sales pitches masquerading as content.

Invest in long-term relationships

Deepen relationships with your customers, clients and partners. The customers who already know and trust you are your lifeblood in an economic downturn. Spend more time nurturing these relationships instead of chasing short-term gains, and you’ll be better positioned to weather any economic storm. Don’t be too transactional. During recessions, people look for stability and security—not quick transactions.

Be sure to keep customers updated on any changes in policies or procedures, new products or services or anything else that might affect them. They’ll appreciate your transparency and will be more likely to stick with you through thick and thin.

Check-in regularly (but not too often). It’s important to stay in touch with your customers, but you don’t want to come across as needy or clingy. Strike a balance by checking in every few weeks or so. A quick phone call or email just to touch base will let them know that you’re thinking of them without being overbearing.

Incentives are always a great way to show your appreciation for your client’s business. Whether it’s a discount on their next purchase or early access to new products or services, they’ll be happy to know that you value their business enough to give them special treatment. Just be sure not to go overboard—you don’t want to devalue your own products or services.

Say “thank you” (and mean it). A simple “thank you” can go a long way toward solidifying your relationship with a client. Be sincere in gratitude and express why you’re thankful for their business. A genuine thank-you is always appreciated.

Get involved in your community

Another great way to recession-proof your marketing and PR efforts is to get involved in your community. Do this by sponsoring local events, donating to charities or simply being active on social media and engaging with potential customers from your area. When people see that you’re invested in authentically helping during hard times and making your community a better place, they’ll be more likely to do business with you. Today’s purchase decision-makers often choose vendors based on their authentic, cause-based work.

Keep your eye on the prize

That means focusing on long-term growth instead of short-term gains. Yes, it’s essential to tighten your budget during tough economic times, but don’t let cost-cutting become an end in itself. Instead, focus on investments that will pay off down the road—in good times and bad.

A recession can be a tough time for businesses—but it doesn’t have to spell disaster for your marketing or PR efforts. In fact, as your competitors are becoming more reluctant to move and are quiet, you have an opportunity to increase visibility and grow. By automating your marketing, investing in long-term relationships, focusing on quality over quantity and keeping your eye on the prize, you can weather economic storms that come your way.


Tauhir Jones is Head of Content and Digital Marketing and runs Karbo Communications’ Content Studio.