A wise sage noted that you grow sales when markets are good, and take market share when conditions are difficult. Though economic signs are still mixed, a fundamental (and historically significant) opportunity has arrived for companies to reconnect with customers and drive sales as conditions shift upward – and, in the process, outshine the competition.
Why now? First, there is the very real issue that customers’ perceptions and perspectives are bruised, battered and altered for the short and long term as a result of recent events. This process has left an indelible stain, and those still standing will emerge cautious. Second – and here is where opportunity resides – that alteration means suppliers must reinvent ways to demonstrate value, to call out differentiation and to step ahead on customer connection and relevance.You’ll have to create a new forum, and adapt directly to the new mindset of your audience.
A look back at other historic market pullbacks reveals that companies that align to these philosophical/operational changes and emerge victorious on the rebound are anticipatory and assertive in their marketing ahead of the shift. An even closer look demonstrates that these same best-practice B2C and B2B organizations have traditionally done three things very well:
- Get the brand right first: Do your core brand attributes remain intact post-meltdown, or do they need to be“recrafted”? Assess your organization’s brand positioning and messaging now, and make sure that they not only fit your existing core competencies but are also aspirational (and accurate) for different and, hopefully, better times ahead. Consistency, believability and internal buy-in and understanding are the hallmarks of best-branded companies, and now is the perfect time to make sure you’ve got it right.
- Prioritize products and services to new opportunities: Shift your focus to the customer side and think critically about their needs and expectations as the economy improves. Do you have a sense of how to cross-match what you do well with what your customers will demand? Now is the time to do that homework, and reshape your product and service mix accordingly. For successful companies emerging from previous recessions or depressions,that due diligence has yielded insight into new product development or service refinement directly responsible for grabbing market share and opening new markets.
- Rethink the channels and venues: Don’t assume a return to the same marketing mix. Instead, it’s imperative to take an objective look at how to affect return-on-investment (ROI) while containing spend. Does it make sense to try social media as a lower-cost alternative to traditional marketing efforts? Can you scale back your presence at trade shows to just speaking opportunities or media interviews instead of building a costly booth? Can targeted direct outreach take the place of broad advertising? Thinking about effectively promoting and driving sales six to12 months out should be top-of-mind right now.
While timing the market is obviously a guessing game, thinking ahead about the mind of the customer is important in normal times but essential in moments of historic change. A recalibration of market dynamics is in motion, and there are multiple signs that the time to shift marketing from reactive to proactive mode is right now. With market share hanging in the balance, don’t let your competition get the jump.
If you’d like to discuss further, please contact Chas Withers at 216-241-4603 or firstname.lastname@example.org