Recession is looming large. The eventual toll of the cost of living crisis, war in Ukraine, sky-rocketing fuel and energy costs and ongoing transport and logistics issues due to Brexit, will mean many business owners are in for a rocky ride.
Some industries, such as all those in the sustainability field, will be naturally resilient to recession, but most businesses will risk clients moving elsewhere due to cost savings or uncertainty, or cutting their spend altogether.
The Harvard Business Review has identified patterns of behaviour from customers during a downturn into four categories:
The good news is, recession is not quite yet fully with us, so there is time to invest in marketing now. Having robust marketing, customer service and business development strategies in place will ensure you retain your business and continue to grow, when your competitors fall by the wayside.
So what marketing techniques can you employ to futureproof your business from the effects of a recession?
Check out my top tips below:
1/Lead with the benefits of working with your company, not the services
Whether its top-notch customer service, specialist knowledge, global reach or a responsive team, shout about your USPs (unique selling points) more loudly than just the services you provide.
2/Use case studies to show how you add value
Use LinkedIn, email marketing and PR to disseminate case studies about the work that you have done. Case studies are social proof of the trustworthiness and effectiveness of your business service.
3/Make sure you have a written down marketing and business development strategy
Yes, you can vaguely have your plan in your head but if you actually write out your marketing plan for the next 12 months you will be more likely to stick to it and achieve your goals. If you are not sure where to start, I offer a three-hour face-to-face strategy workshop to help you create one.
4/Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of your competitors
Having a look strategically at your competitors will give you a much better idea of how you compare. You'll be able to then convey your points of differentiation throughout all your marketing.
5/Create a kick-ass new business pack
If you are at the point of doing a quote, proposal, or going to a face-to-face meeting, you will want to go in with your full armoury of new business weapons.
Ensure you have a well-presented branded and professionally-printed folder, business card, brochure and a couple of promo items to give you the 'wow' factor that your competitors may not have.
6/Reactivate old leads and customers through a series of win-back activities
Think about how you can re-connect with dormant contacts. It might be an email with a promo offer, a call to see how things are going, or sending a postcard through the post to invite them for a catch-up meeting. It is so much harder and more expensive to market to new customers (although fantastic for quick business growth), but there is opportunity to re-ignite relationships that people who already know, trust and like you.
7/ Create an automated onboarding or welcome email for new customers and prospects
There's nothing worse than seeing a generic message such as 'thanks for subscribing, we'll be in touch' when a prospective customer signs up for a newsletter or completes an enquiry form.
At the point they type their email address into your web form, they are hot to trot. A hot lead! To get ahead, create an auto email that gets sent every time a form is completed with a summary of your business, info on the team, or even a PDF of your company brochure to welcome them warmly.
And follow up all enquiries by phone within the hour. An oldie, but a goodie.
8/A bonus tip...maintain your networks
Keep your networks alive all year round, not just when business is quiet. That's right, keep networking even when you are busy. Whether it's a catch-up with your suppliers, seeing current clients at a face-to-face meeting once a month or attending local or online networks, don't risk being forgotten.