COVID-19 has fundamentally reshaped the world and our economy. Business leaders and marketers around the world have been thinking about how best to position themselves, and their products and services, not only to survive, but also to come out stronger.
For many, the threat of an economic crisis inspires fear and uncertainty. But research shows that in a downturn, 14% of businesses to improve both growth and margins. So, strategic and smart gains can always happen if you reframe your message and focus on the right industries.
As we face the economic challenges that will inevitably continue to knock on our doors, I would like to share four marketing tactics that will help you and your organization improve your sales and marketing during a downturn.
1. Identify the requirements of your new marketing strategy and tactic
What we have experienced is not business as usual. Understanding precisely how the downturn is affecting not only your own business, but those of your customers, is critical.
To do this, you need to put the noise aside and focus on the key issues and identify your top priorities, then develop new strategies based exactly on how your industry, the sectors you sell in, and your customers are affected.
It also means doing your homework, and for that you have to go in depth. Study industry and peer research to assess the impact of the pandemic. Talk to your customers; don’t guess them. Have conversations to understand their challenges and emerging scenarios.
I recommend talking to at least 15-20 clients and using that information to confirm (or disprove) your original hypothesis. The interviews should also give you ideas on future directions of travel.
Use the information to produce a list of requirements:
- Cost Saving Opportunities: How Can You Cut Fat, But Not Muscle, From Your Business?
- Operational Improvement: Where Can You Free Up Money While Maintaining Task Force?
- Sales and marketing: how to strengthen your customer base while identifying new sources of income?
- Customer Desired Results: What Data and Information Can You Use to Reach Business Decision Makers?
The requirements will differ from one company or sector to another, as will their order of priority.
2. Rethink your product and your audience
Once you’ve taken a step back from the prioritization of imperatives, you’ll need to rethink how you sell, how you market, how you position your product or service, and who you target.
Align your product or service with these emerging imperatives and focus on how your product or service will help meet your client’s business goals. Focus on selling results rather than selling features.
Resist the temptation to keep doing what you’ve always done.
Think about which industries are likely to be the least affected by the pandemic recession and how that might affect your approach to the market. For example, your product or service might be very technical, but is it time to reach out to the business decision maker rather than the IT manager with a message explaining how your product could help them achieve operational efficiency?
Plus, during a recession, mid-sized businesses tend to scale faster than larger ones, so rethink your audience accordingly.
Make sure the outcomes you’re targeting are specific to the industries you’re targeting: financial services, manufacturing, and healthcare will all have different outcomes.
3. Reframe your story and use the corresponding tactics
You can’t tell the same story you told before the pandemic. Consider what you’ve learned and how you can use it to inform your positioning and effectively connect with your customers.
Emphasize the positive and stay empathetic. You have to be prepared to take a long-term perspective. Find the right balance between being too impatient and transmitting too much fear. You may even need to tone down your message.
In short, be authentic and emphasize the positive impact of your product or service, especially the way it meets the needs of your customers or helps them achieve the desired results. The message you used in 2019 will not be relevant in 2021.
I also advise recognizing the pain. Recognize the situation your customers find themselves in and use it as a benchmark to come out stronger. Offer a product or service solution that will allow them to prepare for growth and, most importantly, stay ahead of the game.
Demonstrate how your offering will keep your customer ahead of the competition.
4. Focus on digital marketing strategy and tactics to help drive demand and close sales
Now is a good time to assess how you are running your business. Face-to-face interaction has been fundamentally disrupted, so you need to understand that digital is now the primary way to establish and conduct business.
Find out how you can extend the capabilities of your technology and assess new ways to connect with your audience. It means thinking about how you promote your brand or fill your sales pipeline.
While rethinking your digital strategy, rethink your metrics. Redefine what success looks like. Success in 2021 will be different from success in 2019.
Reorganize your sales pipeline and learn how to assess new opportunities while redefining success. Pick metrics that match your particular marketing mix, because digital marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Start from zero. Take a look at your economic reality and find out how your digital approach may be different from your in-person approach.
Finally, make sure you have the right platforms in place to lead with digital, whether it’s turning lunches and meetings into virtual discussions, summits into virtual workshops, or live events into webinars. and webcasts.
Digital is no longer a pure lead generation strategy. This should be your approach for almost all sales and marketing activities.
More resources on economic downturn marketing strategy and tactics
Three agile marketing tips for the post-pandemic economy
126 successful businesses started in tough economic times [Infographic]
B2B brands: five marketing strategies to emerge strong from the recession