When trade is tight, it’s time to kick on rather than rein in your marketing, says expert.

As recession rumours swirl, clever PR and marketing is ever more crucial to businesses’ survival, writes Ashley Rossiter.

Knee jerk reactions won't help

As soon as there’s any economic downturn, many brands consider dropping their marketing and PR. Yet this is the very service that will keep your brand visible and in front of people's minds as and when they decide to purchase. 

Suddenly disappearing off the radar will raise a red flag to your customers and give your competition, who will be marketing, the upper hand. 

False economy

Another mistake is trying to save money by ditching your PR people, then 'job sharing' among others in your workforce. 

Your fabulous sales team, for example, then have to become your social media person and marketing person on top of their regular role, with no prior training or experience in this field. They might be brilliant at face-to-face sales, but do they have the skillset and wealth of knowledge that a qualified PR person has?

It's a false economy, detracting from their primary role of getting you money in the till or your products on retailers’ shelves. 

Consider this

If times are looking tough, you need a strong team. Your marketing and PR team are not only brilliant at getting you seen in the media, but they are also likely to be skilled copywriters, creative geniuses and ideas machines - lose them, and you lose all that! 

Consider an external agency if you haven't already got a brilliant in-house PR and marketing team. External agency retainers can be very cost-effective, and you'll benefit from the broader opportunities that being with an agency brings, for example press opportunities that wouldn't necessarily be directed at you but fit the bill perfectly, or the chance to be featured on mainstream TV and radio. 

An external agency, by nature, has a broad perspective of the marketplace and emerging consumer trends due to its vast pool of contacts and client experience, giving you the bigger picture.

Be agile

Being agile in your business is crucial for survival. During the pandemic, you had to adapt to accommodate the lockdowns, or, if you were an online business, reviewing and updating your website to capture more e-commerce sales. 

The lessons learnt here won't have been wasted and shows that your company is resilient. Adapting to change is something your marketing and PR team is familiar with and can support. 

Note consumer sentiment

Consumer sentiment – the feelings and behaviours of customers in a particular market – can be a rocky terrain which your marketing team can help you navigate while supporting your desire to sell.

An external team with its ear to the ground can be particularly useful here.  

Lessons learnt 

Many of my clients emerged from Covid even stronger and more financially buoyant than before. 

Lots of variables come into play when you talk about business success, but there is a reason why you will never see established brands dropping their PR and marketing teams when things take a downturn - they know the value. 

Marketing is not a quick fix, it's a long-term strategy in good and bad times to support your business and build trust with customers.

In the words of the late Steve Jobs:

"To me, marketing is about values. It's a complicated and noisy world, and we're not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So, we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us." 

About the author

Ashley Rossiter is MD of PR and digital marketing agency, MirrorMePR. Ashley is a qualified journalist, holds accredited MCIPR status, and is a certified copywriter and social media expert. 

While the agency now embraces luxury divisions across a number of sectors including lifestyle, pet and beauty, equine & country, marketing remains at the heart of the business. Its most recent award wins include CORP's 'Best Luxury Lifestyle PR Agency 2022' and Global CEO Excellence 2021 Awards 'Best Social Media Marketing CEO (London)'.