Recession Marketing: A 3-Phased Approach

#creatingforwhatsnext

It’s a fact this global pandemic is permanently changing the way we think, act and consume. There will be no rapid return to normal. We live in a new world and we need to start thinking differently. Your inbox has likely been flooded with lists of ways to keep relevant and how to be marketing during the pandemic. But what about after?

Your marketing plan for the impending recession should feel a bit like a rollercoaster. Except you hate rollercoasters and this ride is completely in the dark. Ideally, it’s broken down into 3 stages. Stage one, the first initial downturn that none of us saw coming. Another stage for the ride up and the third stage for the acceleration and recovery.

Most businesses are in stage one: survival mode. We’re seeing that our clients have sat down and done some tough number crunching to see just how long they can survive with little to no income. With these runways in place, many of clients are asking what’s next? How will we navigate marketing our businesses in the recession that is to come post Covid-19?

Phase 1: Soften the downturn

Humanize your company. Be a leader.

Be transparent and share your journey. Let your audience and customers know that you understand their pain and difficult circumstances and that you plan on supporting them rather than reaping profit from a crisis. Emails and newsletters are the best place to do this, although social is good, it’s less personal.

Share with them the steps you’re taking to weather the storm and create a relatable understanding without pulling out the empathy card. At the end of the day, your customers still primarily care about the value you bring to them. Take ownership and inspire confidence.

Don’t go dark but turn off irrelevant campaigns.

You’re audience is likely spending a lot of time at home right now, stressed and looking for some relief. Take a step back and look at your marketing approach from the ground up and in the eyes of your audience. You’re never going to figure out how to be effective in any situation, including a pandemic, if you’re not willing to re-think the situation from scratch.

Pause any ads, posts or messages that aren’t relevant. People don’t want to be sold to right now, they want to be educated, supported and entertained. As Simon Sinek said, “There is a difference between offering a service and being will to serve. They both include giving, but only one is generous.”

Give the people what they want.

Focus on your current customer relationships before flirting with new ones.

This feels like it would be obvious but we’re already seeing some less than ethical business practices happening as panic builds up. As an agency, we employ the usual tactics to drum up new business, including email marketing, networking and referrals. But most of our leads come from referrals, and we like to think it speaks highly of our client service as well as our work.

We do have plans to approach new market segments and audiences, but we know now is not the appropriate time. Current customers need your support and good-will more than ever and that’s where your focus should be. People remember who looked after them and will remain loyal to your brand if you handle this crisis appropriately. As competition ramps up, your competitors may try to lure and poach your customer base. But we’ve provided some advice for Phase 2 will prepare you to tackle this challenge.

Phase 2: Adapt and Revolutionize

Re-evaluate your brand positioning

Recessions force change. Start asking yourself some hard questions. Do you need to change or adjust your customer segment? Are the products or services you provide best suited for your audience after such drastic market changes? Perhaps you only need to modify your product to suit this new digital environment. Word of caution: try to avoid discounting, but rather add value. Otherwise it’s just a race to the bottom.

Focus on your unique value proposition (UVP)

When times get tough, loyalty gets tested. Despite massive upheaval in a change of operations, remind your customers you will continue to provide them the customer service they have come to know and love. How can you go above-and-beyond to reinforce reasons why they picked you over your competitors? Delivering this assurance reminds your audience how important they are and will strengthen their brand loyalty for the long run.

Reinforce your brand promise

Brand promise is sometimes confused with UVP, but they are different. Your brand promise is compromised from the emotional feelings you deliver with your product or service. Dust off those mission statements and make sure they still align with any changes you’ve made in your business or operations. Beyond reassuring your core values and beliefs, go one step further and tell your customers about the added ethics and innovations you’re implementing due to the pandemic. This transparency will go a long way in the hearts of your audience.

Phase 3: Creating for what’s next

Tackle the future

You’ve heard it a millions times and we’ll say it again. There’s opportunity in chaos. By now you should have outlined ways in which you’re going to go “above-and-beyond” as best that you can. Through your efforts in Phase 2, you’ve shown your business is taking ownership of the situation and finding ways to innovate. This means you’ve stayed top of mind for audiences when there’s an upturn in the economy.

Inspire confidence

By staying transparent with your customers throughout the crisis, you’re proving to them that you’re in this together and weathering the storm. When you go above and beyond for their benefit and show lasting good-will, you inject hope into their tragedy.

Play the long game

Covid-19 doesn’t signal the end of the world and it doesn’t have to be the end of your business either. The next few months not only depend on circumstances but also how you choose to face them.

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