The Upside of Marketing in a Down Economy
Yes, it’s tough out there. As I write this, we are all faced with the specter of the invisible coronavirus bug attacking our health, threatening our own lives and that of our family and friends, and doing serious, and potentially long-term damage to our financial well-being. We are all getting tired of talking about what we are doing to amuse ourselves indoors and lamenting the declining economy. We want to quickly get back to the good times where jobs, prospects and customers were plentiful.
However, reality being the inconvenient thing that it is, we are forced to deal with an ongoing economic environment that will profoundly impact how we need to sell and how and when our customers buy. This may not be true for all of us, but for a large portion of the business community, change is not optional. The good old days are fast receding and it is up to each of us to take steps to come out of this thing as best as possible.
The good news is that there are some benefits to be gained if we look at the tough economic times as a period for learning, growing and perfecting our craft. While we have little or no control over the macro environment (spread of the disease, government actions, strength of the economy, financial health of our customers, etc.), there is much we can do on a micro basis, and this is where our individual fortunes will lie.
Patience is an important virtue for managing tough times. We want to throw our hands up and walk away but we toughen up, buckle down and stay the course. We realize that it might be tough sledding for a while but it’s not so easy to jump to the next ship because that ship may also be floundering.
Necessity Drives Efficiency
One of the downsides to a good economy is that it can lead to laziness. When there are lots of buyers, companies develop poor habits regarding their marketing strategy. They pay little attention to issues like branding, lead nurturing and sales efficiency and take a steady stream of orders for granted. Sure, things may not be perfect, but we’re making money!
By contrast, in tough and unpredictable times (like these), marketing economics are critical and we don’t have the luxury of being lazy. We tighten our processes and become more efficient and cost-effective. We learn to squeeze every bit of value from our people and financial resources. Customers are treated better because they are more necessary to our survival. Our customer support, up-sell and cross-sell skills are honed. Marketing and sales practice alignment and teamwork and synergy improve. Nothing is taken for granted and we really learn to appreciate our jobs, our company and our customers.
Perhaps the best thing you can do in a crisis is to transition your though process and actions from activity-based to results-based. And the closer you can tie these results to revenue, the better you will serve your company and protect your job security. As I stated in a previous article:
“Many companies train and incentive their sales and marketing teams to complete a set number of activities. This is because they believe that sales and marketing is a numbers game; e.g. if you make enough sales calls, revenue growth will follow. While there is some truth to this, a focus on finding and selling quality prospects is more important than meeting certain activity levels. As one of my favorite CEOs used to tell me, “Revenue solves a lot of problems, while a lack of revenue is always a problem.” To say this another way: Being busy does not equal success – results equal success.”
Friedrich Nietzsche made the observation, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Although the marketing profession has taken its casualties, there are going to be many strong marketers coming out of the current and future economic difficulties – marketers that understand at a gut-level that there is a fine line between success and failure, prosperity and difficulty. It’s easy to be a great marketer when the market is hot and budgets are plentiful, not so much during tough times like today. But this is exactly the type of environment that will teach you lessons you never forget, and that will make you an extraordinary marketer during great times, tough times and everything in between.
If you want to learn about nine great ways to grow your business, despite the COVID-19 crisis, join me Tuesday, April 14 at my Sales Expert Channel webinar on BrightTalk.com. Even if you read this after April 14, the webinar will be available on-demand at the same link. And of course, let me know if I can assist you in any way.