COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the world – and our economy. Entrepreneurs and marketers around the world have been thinking about how to best position themselves, their products, and their services to not only survive but also emerge stronger.
For many, the threat of an economic crisis arouses fear and insecurity. However, research shows that 14% of businesses improve both growth and margins during a downturn. So strategic, smart profits can still be made by redesigning your news and focusing on the right industries.
Given the economic challenges that will inevitably keep knocking on our doors, let me share four marketing tactics with you to help you and your company improve sales and marketing success during a downturn.
1. Identify the requirements for your new marketing strategy and tactic
What we experienced is not what we are used to. It’s important to understand exactly how the downturn is affecting not only your own business, but that of your customers as well.
To do that, you need to put the noise aside, focus on the most important issues, and identify your top priorities. You then need to develop new strategies based on exactly how your industry, the industries you sell in, and your customers are affected.
It also means doing your homework and for that you have to go deep. Study industry and peer research to assess the impact of the pandemic. Talk to your customers. do not guess. Have conversations so you understand their challenges and their emerging scenarios.
I recommend speaking to at least 15-20 customers and using this information to confirm (or disprove) your original hypothesis. The interviews should also give you suggestions for future travel directions.
Use the information to make a list of imperatives:
- Cost Reduction Opportunities: How Can You Cut Fat – But Not Muscle – Out Of Your Business?
- Operational Enhancement: Where Can You Release Cash While Maintaining Operational Strength?
- Sales and Marketing: How can you strengthen your customer base while identifying new revenue streams?
- Customer Requests: What data and insights can you use to resonate with business decision-makers?
The imperatives differ from company or sector to another, as do their order of priority.
2. Rethink your product and your target audience
Once you’ve gained perspective by prioritizing imperatives, you need to rethink how you sell, how you market, how you position your product or service, and who you are targeting.
Align your product or service with these new needs and focus on how your product or service will help achieve your customers’ business goals. Focus on earnings sales rather than feature sales.
Resist the temptation to keep doing what you always have done.
Think about which industries are least affected by the pandemic recession and how this could affect your approach to the market. For example, your product or service may be highly technical, but could it be time to contact the business decision maker instead of the IT manager with a message about how your product can help them achieve operational efficiencies?
In a recession, medium-sized companies tend to move faster than larger ones. So rethink your audience accordingly.
Make sure the outcomes you want are specific to the industries you are targeting: financial services, manufacturing, and healthcare have different outcomes.
3. Update your story and use appropriate tactics
You can’t tell the same story you told before the pandemic. Think about what you’ve learned and how you can use it to educate your positioning and create an effective connection with your customers.
Emphasize the positive and be empathetic. You should be ready to take a long-term perspective. Find the right balance between being too eager and conveying too much fear. You may even need to tone down your message.
In short, be authentic and emphasize the positive effects of your product or service – specifically how it meets your customers’ needs or helps them get the results they want. The news you used in 2019 won’t be relevant in 2021.
I also advise acknowledging the pain. Recognize the situation your customers are in and use it as a benchmark to step up. Offer a product or service solution that will enable them to prepare for growth and, most importantly, stay one step ahead of the game.
Show how your offering enables your customer to stay one step ahead of the competition.
4. Focus on digital marketing strategy and tactics to increase demand and close sales
Now is a good time to evaluate how you are running your business. Personal interaction has been profoundly disrupted, so you need to understand that digital is now the primary channel for building and running business.
Learn how to expand the capabilities of your technology and evaluate new ways to connect with your audience. That means thinking about how to promote your brand or fill your sales pipeline.
As you rethink your digital strategy, rethink your metrics. Redefine what success looks like. Success in 2021 will look different than success in 2019.
Revamp your sales pipeline and find out how to evaluate new opportunities while redefining success. Choose metrics that are tailored to your particular marketing mix, as digital marketing is not a single process. Start over. Take a look at your economic reality and find out how your digital approach can differ from your personal approach.
Finally, make sure you have the right platforms to lead digitally – whether lunches and meetings turn into virtual chats, 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 to almost all sales and marketing activities.
Additional resources on marketing strategy and tactics in an economic downturn
Three agile marketing tips for the post-pandemic economy
126 Successful companies began in difficult economic times [Infographic]
B2B Brands: Five Marketing Strategies That Are Strongly Coming Out of the Recession