During a Market Downturn, Turn Up Your Brand Building with These Three Strategies

By Cara Sloman, CEO, Force4 Technology Communications 

If you know where to look, opportunities abound even in trying times. Some businesses might choose to curb their communications plan until circumstances improve. Others might proactively assist their customers in overcoming the issues that the crisis has created. After all, the reason businesses exist is to address customers’ pain points. The more significant the issue, and the more reassuring and genuine your customer interactions, the more likely you are to develop long-lasting relationships. 

History demonstrates that resilient and clever businesses prosper during economic downturns. A review of the Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies database dating back to the last major recession in 2008, shows that businesses that up their marketing spending during recessions have higher returns and gain a larger proportion of the market as the economy improves. 

Today’s Customer Buying Cycle 

The customer buying cycle is constantly changing, but the pandemic ushered in a period of more significant changes. Sales cycles are getting longer, and businesses are relying more on digital channels. We’re seeing that customers have a much higher preference for digitally enabled sales interactions when looking for products, according to a recent McKinsey & Company study. Additionally, there is a noticeable rise in the number of online communities and mobile apps for suppliers. There has been a fundamental shift that puts the new customer experience emphasis on empathy and personalization. 

Reputation Building in a Downturn 

Businesses can use these three strategies as catalysts for both short- and long-term success: 

1. Make customers’ priorities primary – To create exceptional digital experiences and foster loyalty, businesses must address customers’ most pressing frustrations and concerns. Find ways to use storytelling to engage emotionally with potential customers.

2. Re-examine the customer’s journey – Ask the following three crucial questions: What is their persona? What is their present journey like, and how has it changed? What is the most economical approach to communicate with them along the journey? You can better comprehend the challenges that your customers and prospects are facing as they move through the buying process if you take a moment to consider their needs. Analyze their search patterns for solutions to such problems using your data. With this knowledge, you can be sure that your marketing strategy will engage customers in a very individualized way. 

3. Establish relationships that can be measured – COVID-19 has had a particularly profound impact on business-to-business marketing. Standard marketing spending that was centered on events, tradeshows and in-person interactions has radically changed. It is crucial to switch to quantitative relationship-building tactics as sales cycles have gotten longer.

The focus of communications needs to change from pushing slick products to offering useful knowledge through articles, newsletters and other materials with softer-sell message and more conversational language. Creating a two-way communication channel will show that you are aware of the perspectives of your customers and prospects. This will foster a feeling of camaraderie with your business.

Provide online discussion boards or blogs, send online and/or offline consumer surveys, and ask for feedback via your website and e-newsletters. Use all the resources at your disposal to promote connection. While face-to-face interaction is less than it used to be, one-on-one conversations over the phone or via video with customers and prospects can further personalize your relationship-building strategy and make them feel particularly valued. Use your CRM tools to track and evaluate your efforts along the way. 

Agility is a crucial quality for success in times of both abundance and scarcity. Marketers must be prepared to swiftly alter their tactics and strategies while continually putting the requirements of their customers at the center of their branding. 

If you’re ready to commit to building your brand regardless of circumstances, we’re ready to help. Contact us to start the discussion.