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Is there a recession coming in 2019? Honestly, we’ve no idea. But when it comes to your company and your livelihood, it makes sense to prepare for the worst by making your brand recession proof.
For most of us, the last recession is very much in our rear view mirror. However, as global economic downturns go, it was severe. It also had a huge effect on both business management and buying behavior. Moreover, those effects continue to this day. For example:
- Banks lend differently.
- Consumers are much more conscious of their spending. The simultaneous rise in the use of social media and content marketing gives consumers today the tools they need to do significant research before making a purchase.
- Impulse buys have been replaced by considered purchases. Brands have had to adapt their marketing strategies accordingly.
Clearly, the world is not the same place it was before the Great Recession hit. Therefore, we shouldn’t expect the impact of our brands to be the same. Nor should we expect to be successful using the same methods.
The Effect of the Recession on Brand Loyalty
Traditional brand loyalty went out the window during the last recession. While consumers would previously be loyal to premium brands, a prolonged recession forced people to cut their spending. In short, they switched to cheaper products. The recession ended, but the buying behavior continued. Today, premium brands have to do much more to prove value.
A study by McKinsey details the relationship between the perceived value of a product and what people are willing to pay. Pre-recession, for example, branded detergent was perceived to be of higher value than store brands. However, once consumers tried the cheaper products and found the performance to be better than expected, that perception of value changed. Moreover, that change is permanent. In other words, brands can no longer rely on their name alone to sell products.
Millennials and the Perception of Value
Millennials came of age during the recession. They are, accordingly, financially risk-averse. But this isn’t the only thing that defines their spending habits. Millennials also perceive value differently. Though the majority will carry out price comparisons in store in a bid to find the lowest price, millennials are also prepared to pay more for products when they feel that the brand is using the money for good. For example, millennials will purchase products if the brand is sustainable or contributing toward corporate social initiatives. For that reason, it is necessary to pitch sales differently toward millennials.
Millennials are also used to the service levels of organizations like Amazon, Uber, and Netflix. So bear that in mind when you’re looking at your organization’s customer service model.
Customers Have Become More Discerning
It’s not just millennials. All customers spend less freely now than in the years before the recession. Therefore, when they do splash out, they want to know they are getting the best deal for their money. Much of the decision-making process happens before the customer speaks to a salesperson. That is, it takes place during an extensive research process.
What does this mean for brands? If you want to make your brand recession proof, you need to be sure you’re showing up in customers’ research. This means putting plenty of content out there on your website and other sites for customers to find. Think of what your customers are basing their choices on, and answer their questions. The majority of customers will buy from the first seller that is able to give them the information they are looking for.
Consumer Cynicism Has Taken Hold
A lot of people felt let down when the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan in 2008. Moreover, consumer trust hasn’t really recovered since. Therefore, transparency is a vital part of brand success. Customers want to feel respected and cared for. Moreover, various review sites have risen up to allow customers to help each other make informed decisions. Even the automotive market has had to adapt. Dealerships selling used cars know they need to be transparent in order to be recession proof. That’s because consumers today are better informed.
Social Sharing Has Opened New Doors
It’s no coincidence that in the decade since the Great Recession began, social media has taken off for business. Social media marketing is a relatively cost-effective marketing tool. What’s more, it’s a great way to engage with customers. Notably, customers engage on social media to build relationships with brands.
For discerning customers, social media is a place to share deals. Moreover, they also share both good and bad brand experiences. All of this has grown in the last ten years. This creates an entirely new platform for marketers to share their brand message and build their following. Indeed, brands who actively engage with members of their target audience are bound to be more recession proof.
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What Could You Do to Recession-Proof Your Brand in 2019?
We’ve established that if a recession were to hit in 2019, it would be an altogether different experience for brands than it was in 2008. So what measures could you begin taking today to make your brand recession proof?
Build Your Brand Identity Around a Hero Statement
In 2019, you should build your brand around your customer. What problem do you solve? What are you passionate about? How can you express these things in a way that shows you are putting the customer first?
A hero statement might just be the answer. This is a simple sentence that aims to pin down what you do and who you do it for. You may already have one on your website. But one of the important things to remember about a hero statement is that it should be at the center of everything you do. This means that your sales, marketing, and customer success people must all have the same understanding of the problems your product solves and who it is for. If marketing says one thing and sales another, you risk losing customer trust. And this will only translate into lost revenue.
Delight Your Customers
Happy customers are your best sales marketing tool. If you want to make your brand recession proof, keep doing all you can to exceed your customers’ expectations. Deliver on promises and add value wherever possible. Make it easy for them to buy from you. Create and distribute content not just for the buying process, but also for every stage of the customer journey. Moreover, make it content they will want to share. Build a community that enables you to help your customers and allows them to help each other. The key is to keep asking yourself, “How can we be a better ally?” Once you know the answer to that question, act on it.
Use Tools Wisely
There is a lot of technology out there. There are tools to gather data, tools to help you communicate with your customers, and tools to streamline sales processes. Not all of them will be relevant to your business. However, the right tools can set you ahead of the competition.
Customers expect you to know them the way Amazon or Netflix knows them. But, equally, they want you to respect their data. Use the knowledge you gain for good (tailored proposals), not evil (spam).
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes with every communication. Ask, “What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)?” from the customer’s perspective. Always add value where you can. And if you need them to answer questions for you, give them good reasons and a little incentive.
Streamlined Sales Processes
The more effective your sales processes, the better the customer experience. Concentrate on tools that enable you to deliver a more personal experience while eliminating some of the more tedious manual tasks.
Take Steps Now to Make Your Brand Recession Proof
We hope there won’t be a recession in 2019. But if there is, these tips will help your brand weather the storm and blossom, no matter the conditions.
About the Author
Charlotte Powell is Head of Design and Marketing at iPresent, a sales enablement platform developed by experienced sales professionals. iPresent is designed to give sales teams all they need to create beautiful sales presentations and secure more business.