When business is in flux, companies look for areas to cut expenses. Often times staffing and marketing budgets are one of the first areas they look to cut expenses if they are not revenue producing. However, without marketing communications and support, revenues will decline even further, sending the business into a downward spiral that will be much more difficult to undo ones the economy picks up.
During times of certainty, demand and prosperity, you market. During times of uncertainty, distress and slow-down, you market. Companies need to continue to invest in marketing regardless of external economic forces. Obviously, the levels of spend and investment may vary depending on many variables but in the end – go to market. During times of crisis, companies need to be vigilant of their budgets in order to direct funds where most appropriate while still crafting and enacting strategies for marketing in a slow economy which later pay off. In times of crisis or unpredictable business forecasts, double down on marketing.
Maintaining a brand presence
Companies must continually brand, maintain presence and visibility, engagement and relevance during busy and slow times. You need to double down on all of the above during slow times. When economic conditions settle, business owners will be able to make swift decisions on products and services to get back on track quickly if they navigate their strategies at all times.
Post COVID-19, just as in other crisis situation or economic downturn, there will be a time of accelerated growth and opportunity. Businesses need to be ready at all times to service their clients. Companies need to leverage technology and online mediums and platforms to continue to stay engaged at all times. Virtual and online strategies are not new to business and will most definitely now become a new norm of operation. It allows for greater reach, flexibility, cost containment and so much more. Scalable marketing tactics are key and particularly those with low to no costs such as publishing and thought-leadership content, blogs, social media and other marketing communications avenues.
Sustain to achieve growth
For businesses looking to sustain and achieve growth, retaining current customers is just as important as earning new customers. Focus on sustaining customer loyalty and repeat business. Ask, what can you do for them? Find the pain point or void and fill the need. This is the question that should be at the heart of all sales. There is gold in your client lists. If you do not have one, focus on compiling one. It is a well-known axiom in business management, sales and marketing that “80% of sales come from 20% of clients”. The Pareto Principle, or “80/20 Rule” is simple but often forgotten in good economic times. Remember, if you can figure out which 20% of your time produces 80% of your business’ results, you can spend more time on those activities and less time on others.
The good news is that customer loyalty marketing initiatives are often less expensive than initiatives geared toward new customer acquisitions. Be sure to capitalize and utilize online marketing to its full capacity. Online consumption of data, professional services selection, products and overall purchasing has grown via the web by leaps and bounds. The benefit of online marketing is that it once your web assets are in place, they can be tailored as needed and on demand. Your business can reach a virtually unlimited number of prospects and clients at a much more manageable and scalable cost point. It is much more expensive to utilize print ads, direct mail or other traditional marketing channels for marketing. Although, every company should use a healthy mix of all the marketing channels for best results.
Staffing and outsourcing
In times of need, outsourcing may be a viable option for you in connection to your PR, marketing and design needs. A sluggish economy is a perfect opportunity to utilize select outsourcing methods since it may be less costly than maintaining in-house staff. Marketing has short-term and long-term gains and losses but is ultimately an investment in your company and the foundation of sales. Like any investment, ongoing evaluation and tailoring is required to gauge return on investment and progress. the return it brings to your business. In this new and changing economy, many businesses are uncertain how to proceed with marketing but selecting the right senior level professional to lead the efforts for you makes the challenged much more surmountable alongside a marketing strategy with cost-effective strategies that are capable of conquering the challenges of today’s and tomorrow’s marketplace.
Unfortunately, one of the area’s most businesses do not want to address in budget reviews is staffing. Particularly in times of slow growth, but it should apply at all times, if your team are not staffed with the right talent or with the correct ratios of team members, it will be time to take a good look at what your company is spending on salaries and for whom. I do not think any company want to deal with displacing employees but sometimes there are some misses and it is not the right fit.
Many companies do not like to admit that they may not have hired the right people for the right jobs. It happens! However, it is worse to continually spend on the wrong talent, while not producing the results you need and should be getting for your time and money. If your team has not been producing the right results over a certain period of time, it’s time to hold them accountable and decide if you want to keep the team as-is or shift them to another department if they can be an asset elsewhere in your company. Also, take a look at your third-party providers and services that are outsourced. Sometimes you need to adjust how much or how little you use outside vendors in times when revenue is under the microscope and uncertain. These are difficult decisions but decisions that keep your company in business and your budget and investments in check.
In the end, marketing means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To the great majority, marketing equals sales and revenue. So, if you are busy with work, marketing goes on and maintains the pipeline full and people busy. So, if you are not busy with work, marketing goes on and helps to fill the pipeline and get people work. Marketing is a team sport. It is a competition so now, go market.