I've been putting off writing about making your business recession-proof because frankly, the economy is doing okay, despite the trade wars, tarriffs, and market indicators.
But in the last month, what had been tentative whispers about a coming recession have become more like a rhaspier, louder smokers cough, barking out caution.
From Fortune to Forbes, to Market Watch to the Atlantic, economists have turned up the heat, suggesting that it's not a question of IF another recession is looming, but WHEN it will hit. Some say economists' bark is worse than the economy's bite, warning that our fears of another recession can actually pour fuel on a market slowdown, hastening the worst of things. So what's a concerned business owner to do?
I'm more of a pragmatist than an economist. And as a marketer for primarily B2B service-oriented businesses with over 15 years of experience that an economic turndown is no reason to stop investing in the growth of your business.
In fact, in the months, weeks, and days leading up to an expected recession is the perfect time to ratchet up your marketing in a bold bid to recession-proof your business.
Invest in content marketing now—before the recession hits— to rise above the noise when it matters most.
Nearly all marketing initiatives take time to show a significant return over the long haul. And every marketing strategy needs to be assessed, analyzed, and redirected from time to time. Sometimes, you might even have to scrap a marketing plan and start over.
During lean times is when content marketing becomes even more critically important for recession-proofing. At the center of content marketing is the beating heart of all your marketing strategies—your brand story. Your brand story includes not just the products and services you sell, but WHY you created them in the first place. WHO did you create these solutions or products for? And HOW are you different than your many competitors.
Now is a perfect time to get clear about your content marketing strategy and start to create the buzz that helps you rise above the noise.
Here are 5 tips to help you recession-proof your business.
- STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR CUSTOMER
It's always important to establish empathy with your potential and current customers, but during a recession it becomes critical. Whether they're hurting financially already or merely fearing the R-word as much as you are, this is the best time to reconnect authentically. Some call this leading with your "North Star"—the promise your brand makes to customers. Think of content marketing around your North Star as a guide, which doesn't merely seek to SELL customers on a service or product. It's much more about earning trust and then delivering on your promise.
- TAKE INVENTORY OF YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Now is a good time to map your customer journey to identify areas of weakness and then pivot, adapt, or redesign to meet their needs. We call this "accomodation without compromise", meaning, you build rapport and trust with customers by actively letting them know their experience matters.
What is cluttering the user experience? Does your website need an overhaul? Are you creating enough content? Are you creating the RIGHT content?(If not, this is where we can help.)
- DON'T LET PEOPLE GO, REDEPLOY THEM
If your first reaction to cutting costs is cuting staff, consider reassinging them instead. If you can automate more of your business processes and reassign staff to add value to the customer experience while also offering more rewarding work, that will translate into both consumer AND employee loyalty.
- FOCUS ON CORE COMPETENCIES
There are plenty of articles out there recommending diversification as a survival strategy for SBEs. But if you wait too long to develop diverse products then rush to add them to your offerings you could wind up wasting time and money. Even worse than losing revenue is the damage that can happen to your brand's reputation. Stay focused on what you do best and add value to it.
Once you've doubled-down on your core competencies, figure out how to stand apart from your competition. Research your competition and see what they're doing (or not doing) for insights to drive a thoughtful marketing strategy. One that lets existing customers know you're not going anywhere, and attracts new customers because of your messaging.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then a recession is the mother of opportunity. During the last recession, more than 170,000 small businesses closed. However, recessions have historically spurred entrepreneurism. And even more impressive, over one-fifth of companies in the bottom quartile in their industries jumped to the top quartile during the 2008-2009 recession.
How did they thrive when so many floundered and failed? They succeeded during tough times by increasing productivity before the downturn hit and getting strategic with their differentiation and adding value to their offerings.
A recession is very likely coming. That's the bad news.
The good news is you can take steps to make your business recession-proof. Your business can do more than survive an economic downturn—as long as you start to take specific and strategic action now, before the real trouble starts.
Ready to power-up your recession-proofing?
Schedule a free consult to see how we can hep you achieve your sales goals through brand storytelling and user experience upgrades.