Nancy Clark, center, president and owner, with staff members. (Courtesy photo)
When the pandemic hit, Nancy Clark took the lessons she learned in the last recession to make sure she could lead her North Conway-based marketing firm through to the other side of the crisis.
When the economy took a deep nosedive into recession in 2007, the firm, then known as the Glen Group, found itself in trouble. “The recession was really scary. I just had a newborn baby. It hit like a ton of bricks. I had no idea what was coming,” says Clark.
Clark sought help from a variety of people. “I got advice—be humble and vulnerable,” she says. She met with her landlord to work out a payment plan. “He said pick up the phone and call every single person you owe money to, and it was best advice I got. Without exception, every person said take your time, we know you will pay us back when you can,” Clark says.
While it was an experience she never wanted to repeat, Clark says it made her a smarter and more efficient business owner.
In 2015, she hit the refresh button on the business, rebranding it as Drive Brand Studio. “We are driven, and we drove ourselves out of that recession. We have drive for our clients,” she says. It was also the same year she and her husband bought the local ice cream place down the street from their house, Trails End Ice Cream Shop in Intervale, which they have grown.
When the pandemic hit, Clark says she felt more prepared than she was for the recession. She had money in the bank and extra payroll set aside. “I maintained a recession era mentality,” she says. Brand Drive Studio reached out to clients to see how they could assist them, even offering free services. Once PPP funds arrived, the firm saw paying clients not only return but saw a huge uptick in the number of them placing the firm on retainer. The firm’s revenues are more than 25% ahead of 2021 year-to-date, says Clark, who was inspired to pursue marketing by her mother.
Drive Brand Studio is focusing more on providing content strategy services to clients and recently added two more employees. “We look at where there are opportunities to grow,” Clark says.