Editor’s Note: This post was written pre-COVID, December 2019.
Why is it a good idea to think about recession-proofing your marketing?
Two words: risk management.
Below you’ll find ten key areas to proactively think about — thoughtful discussion around these topics can only benefit your business.
#1. Value Proposition
You have customers for a reason — you are providing them with something they need.
This could be solving a problem, improving an experience, providing something unique. How customers perceive the value you provide is essential to retain and grow them.
In a contracting market, does your organization’s value proposition still compel your customers? Are there steps you can take now to strengthen or expand the value you provide? Think about how to improve their experience around using your product or service.
#2. Your Brand
Your brand is what your customers say it is.
Do they have a clear idea of your values, purpose, and commitments? Is their perception of your brand clear and relevant enough to hold their affinity through shifting tides?
Now is a great time to take your customers’ temperature and gain valuable brand feedback. It doesn’t have to be a huge project — even short, well-designed e-mail and social media surveys can yield surprising insights.
Every organization should have strong, consistent core messages that apply to all communications — from advertising to customer service to your e-mail signature.
Think about your core messages. Now pretend that your customers and prospects are making purchase decisions with more spending scrutiny.
Are your core messages still compelling? Are there refinements you can make to strengthen them today?
Your audience includes both your current and prospective customers. But there are also many different ways to group your audience into segments. This could be demographically, psychographically, or even by where they are in the sales cycle.
If the broader economy experiences slowing growth and even a possible contraction, how does this affect your audience and its segments?
Are there undiscovered or underserved audience segments that exist now? Finding them proactively will help to grow and diversify your audience – a smart move no matter what happens.
You probably already have a great idea of your competitive landscape, and where you fit into it. You can also likely identify what you offer that your competitors don’t.
However, here’s a question – are there competitors that your audience may defect to based on cost/price, even if your product or service is superior?
It may be wise to revisit #1 (Value Proposition) to ensure that your unique promise is relevant in an environment where price matters more.
The very top of your customer continuum is reserved for some of your most valued customers — the loyal customers. They’ll stay with you through thick and thin.
But will they…really?
Think of your business from their point of view, and what happens if their discretionary spending is reduced. Is there a risk of attrition? What steps can you take to reward and retain their loyalty? To go a step further, what can you do cultivate your loyal customers into evangelists?
A large, dependable pool of loyal customers and evangelists is a strong recession defense.
You most likely review your marketing spend on a regular basis. Chances are that this quarter’s spend is similar to last quarter’s, with revisions where needed.
In the event of an economic change, and this works for expanding as well as contracting, it’s a great idea to have priority-weighted budget percentages for your marketing activities.
This way you are better positioned to scale up or down. It’s important to revisit budgets at least quarterly so that you can adjust your priority budget percentages based on top performing activities.
If you are planning ahead for a time when it might be more challenging to acquire new customers, it’s a good idea to think about possible inroads that you can begin exploring today.
A good place to start would be in outlining your cost of acquisition for various channels and programs.
Next, look at opportunities to meet your goals with smarter, more streamlined approaches. This is a great time to brainstorm — are there low-cost efforts that you can implement? Examples include a referral program, public relations, and low-cost partner promotions.
Competitive marketing is data-driven, and that means you’ve got to make friends with metrics.
Do you have a cohesive marketing metrics dashboard that provides feedback on the relative success of your activities? If you don’t, it’s absolutely worth investing the time to create one. Not can this data point out areas that may need attention, but they may signal changes in the macro view.
And please don’t overlook industry metrics! It’s worth finding reliable sources of industry data to alert you to changes happening in the broader market. This way you can put your own results in context.
Marketing operations includes the people, resources, and platforms that keep your marketing running.
Sadly, marketing operations are too often overlooked or put on the bottom of the priority totem pole by many businesses. Why? Because there are usually plenty of other fires to put out.
But you can bet that in the event of a recession this will be one of the first areas to get scrutinized, so why wait until the eleventh hour?
Does your marketing team have a resilient staffing plan? You can start mapping flex resources and restructuring roles now. Do you have marketing platforms that can be retired, upgraded, or automated?
Investigating areas, sooner than later, where you can increase efficiency and productivity can only help your business.
Don’t Delay — Take Action Today
Did any of these questions get your wheels turning? Here’s your opportunity to “just do it.”
Put a meeting on the books to discuss at least one of these topics with your team. You’ll feel so much more at ease taking positive steps to make your marketing more resilient.