Ways for marketers to beat the downturn

This blog was originally written in 2012, and reviewing it nearly 4 years later, it's hard to see much has changed. The suggestions were aimed at helping marketers to take a 'glass half-full' perspective - you be the judge..... .....I'll begin with ways that marketers can help themselves (and colleagues) to improve their customer experience by embracing the positive:

  • "It's tough to win new business" = Celebrate and WOW new customers - yes, it's never been easier for customers to shop around and compare your product or service to your competitors. With web access not just super fast but also increasingly accessible on mobile devices, shoppers can make carefully judged buying decisions wherever they are, based on reviews, price, availability, and so on. But this also means that when a new customer does make a purchase, such a hard-won sale is a bigger triumph than ever before. So don't let that pass you by....or the customer. Surprise them with an unexpected extra benefit, treat them with an extended warranty, incentivise them to buy again...soon. By working harder to improve repeat sales and the lifetime value of the customer, you can help offset some downturn in overall customer volumes.
  • "My marketing spend gets me less these days" = customer advocacy and word-of-mouth is free! Well, OK, not quite free, as you'll have had to impress them with your proposition to start with, but I'd view that kind of proposition effort as an investment, which pays dividends many times over. The key point here is that, unlike traditional media spend which is increasingly fragmented and cluttered, earned media activity like customer recommendations, positive stories and comments are both influential and poignant. Customers' own accounts of their experience of a business are seen as more authentic than advertising of course, even if not everything is flattering to your brand. And where negative comments ARE made, it's an opportunity to seize the moment and show how your firm both listens and acts on feedback.
  • "My customers only want to tighten their belts" = so be the brand to help them! It's hardly surprising that buyers (that includes B2B as well as B2C) are seeking ways to save money right now and make existing purchases go further. One of the foundations of experiential marketing thinking is to recognise this desire in the context of their lives and business, rather than your own. In practice, this means proactively offering ideas and tips for extending the value of your goods and services in customer terms. For example - is your product perishable? Then offer ways to extend its shelf life, or ideas to to use up those last few portions to avoid it going to waste. What about the packaging? One 'rule-of-thumb' is that the more your firm spent on the packaging in the first place, the greater the opportunity it could be re-used for something else. And if that extends the life and visibility of your brand on that packaging, so much the better. Be imaginative - remember that great ideas tend to end up getting shared by their proud owners and users these days in social media..

In tough times, it's easy to get despondent, especially when some of the tried-and-tested marketing techniques you've used for years are no longer as effective in today's economy. But brand marketers can seize the initiative, by embracing some of these challenges in a fresh way. Most of all, be positive - if you can win and delight customers (new and existing) in these austere times, just think how much potential there will be to extend their loyalty as the economy starts to improve. Think of it as priming the marketing pump with time-release activities that will still be benefiting your bottom line when your competitor's short-term media blitz is long forgotten....