Simple, Smart, and Proactive
How to use marketing to support your business when the economy is uncertain.
During down economic times, we all need to be efficient with our resources. But that doesn’t mean you should put the brakes on your marketing efforts. Doing that might cause more damage to your brand than you realize.
Instead, it’s time to get back to the basics and be proactive with your brand so it can bolster your business and weather the challenges ahead. How? The approach is simple: define your goals, understand your customers, and implement a smart plan.
What do you need to accomplish? Maybe your goal is to instill confidence and prevent people from discontinuing your services or switching to another brand. Or maybe you need to find new sales opportunities with greater reach, by offering free trials, or communicating new value. Whatever your goals, make sure they are realistic. An economic downturn is probably not the best time to set a higher sales goal, but it may be the right time to set a brand awareness and value recognition goal.
Who do you need to reach? You will want to include all your typical audiences, but keep in mind there may be some new folks to consider too. Are there new opportunities to gain market share from competitors who are flailing? Has the economic climate created some targeted segments within your previous customer categories? Perhaps there are groups who have new needs, new pain points, or new ways for your products or services to help them. Step back and make a thoughtful assessment of all your audiences with the lens of today’s economy in mind.
Next, think through what each target audience needs to hear. This is probably something different than your typical marketing messages. Make sure you are really empathizing with each audience and what they are feeling, thinking, and expecting from your brand at this time. Don’t get sales-y. Instead, be relevant, be sensitive, be honest, and most importantly, be helpful (solve a problem, don’t just make noise).
Once you’ve defined your objectives and are clear about who you need to reach and what they really need from you during the current market situation, it’s time to put together a plan of action. Map out the activities you intend to implement, the channels you will use, and the timing for each step. Remember to keep it simple and cost-effective. You may have limited resources but your timing should be responsive.
Think lean and focused. Now is when you need to use the systems you already have in place and the networks you’ve already established. Prioritize the things that will give you the most bang for your buck while effectively linking back to your goals. That might mean involving a broader team to implement your plan. For example, having your salespeople make direct calls to existing customers is a more personalized and better way to increase customer retention rather than implementing a direct mail campaign. It’s good to be creative as long as you are being smart too. When in doubt, remember simpler efforts that are reflective of your brand values will be better received in a tight market than things that are flashy or excessive.
Stay the course
Once you start moving on your plan, it’s important to keep at it, especially through the toughest times. Be responsive, flexible, and adjust as often as you need, but don’t quit having a brand presence with your key audiences. When the market is uncertain, your customers will look to you to guide them, give them confidence, and be there for them. Don’t let them down by going radio silent. Instead use your brand strength, marketing know-how, and useful products and services to steady the ship for you and for them.