Recession. The word is enough to strike fear into business owners’ hearts. Naturally, they start looking for ways to trim any expenses they can. And those cuts could impact everyone from the CEO to front-line employees to the people companies serve.
While the ultimate goal is to keep the business afloat, slashing marketing budgets isn’t always wise. A lean strategy can still include ample marketing spend on activities designed to support growth. Even in a recession, businesses can grow. It may sound counterintuitive, but historical data backs this notion up.
Companies that kept spending on marketing and advertising during previous recessions outpaced the competition. In the financial crisis of 2008, businesses decreased advertising dollars by 13% across the board. Leaders who maintained their marketing spend, however, saw a 3.5 times increase in brand visibility. In tough economic times, growth marketing strategies are a way to keep reaching your audiences with maximum impact. Here’s how.
Engage Consumers Via Email
In a recession, shoppers aren’t going to respond to marketing messages with the same levels of enthusiasm. In an effort to be cost-conscious, most consumers will think twice about every purchase. If something sounds too good to be true, they’ll pass. The same goes for any in-your-face promos for solutions shoppers perceive as nonessential.
Businesses that are accustomed to healthy conversion rates from promotional email campaigns will doubtless find this unnerving. The solution is to embrace a growth marketing perspective and employ email as a relationship-building tool for the long term. Use email to engage leads in various sales funnel stages. Don’t simply push your product as a way to nudge consumers; showcase your company as a helpful resource even if prospects don’t buy right away. Your patience now will result in higher lifetime customer value later.
You can also use email to keep existing customers in the loop. Segmenting your client list by interests and past behaviors lets you target customers with relevant content. Highlight what your company is doing for local communities and educate people about how your solutions fill market needs. Email newsletters can build audiences for your online content, providing further opportunity to highlight your value and expertise.
Become a Go-To Resource
Online content is a cost-effective way to increase brand awareness. Consumers may tighten their belts, but they still need to know your company exists. More importantly, shoppers need to be aware of what your brand stands for and why they should consider you.
Digital content, including a blog, helps consumers get to know your brand. But the information must be beneficial while appealing to shoppers’ motivations. Your business won’t get far with superficial, self-promoting blog posts and website pages. Whatever materials you produce shouldn’t leave your target audiences with more questions than answers.
You can help your digital content stand out by making it a go-to resource for consumers. When customers have a problem to solve, your online tutorials and how-to videos should help them do just that.
Of course, you aren’t limited to blog posts and videos. You might find your audience engages better with something more interactive. Livestreams, webinars and polls on social media sites represent a few ideas. Keep experimenting to find what works, regardless of which formats you initially choose.
Reward Loyal Customers
Growth marketing strategies are all about cultivating your client base. When companies only offer incentives to new customers, it prompts loyal ones to look for greener pastures. Why should they pay more for the same product? More importantly, why should they remain customers of your company if you care more for new customers than those of long standing?
As with any relationship, consumers need a reason to stay invested. Providing exceptional service or a unique product may not be a big enough incentive. In a recession, it’s not unusual for consumers to start looking for lower-priced substitutes. While this behavioral shift is typical with commodities, hypercompetitive markets are turning once novel products into pedestrian offerings. Think specialty coffee and wireless phone service.
Reward programs can be effective, provided they don’t have several hoops for customers to jump through. So can referral programs that offer incentives to new and existing clients. With referral rewards, your company doesn’t have to spend as much money on attracting brand-new business. Current customers do the advertising for you. Plus, consumers are more likely to trust what someone they know says about your business versus what your company says about itself.
Form Partnerships With Industry Thought Leaders
A well-known industry thought leader who advocates for your brand could quickly increase its visibility. Someone whom your target audience respects and listens to will help you make more inroads in the market. Consumers are skeptical of companies without positive endorsements from trusted sources. If you’re only tooting your own horn, the kudos will come across as inauthentic.
Partnerships with influencers give both sides a chance to say something more meaningful. A thought leader might enable your business to reach a coveted but elusive market segment. You can also feed off each other’s knowledge to create resources your competitors can’t duplicate.
Before joining forces with any thought leader, evaluate what the partnership can bring to the table. You want someone who will align with your company’s values and identity. While an influencer’s large following is nice, it’s not the most critical factor. Look for a voice with longevity — one you can envision representing your brand well for the foreseeable future.
Growing a Recession-Proof Business
Some industries seem to naturally withstand one economic downturn after another. But many businesses don’t have the luxury of being inherently immune to recessions. To help their companies survive, leaders must develop strategies to buffer the effects of reduced consumer spending. Growth marketing initiatives can keep revenues flowing by investing in long-term engaging relationships with customers instead of transactional ones.