4 strategies for marketing in a challenging economy

marketing in downturnIn a challenging economy, consumers become value oriented, set stricter priorities, and reduce their spending. Although it’s wise to contain costs, this is not the time for your organization to stop spending on marketing. Rather it’s the time to put customer needs under the microscope to understand how they have changed, and nimbly adjust your strategies, tactics, and product offerings to the new reality.

Organizations may forget that, in prosperous times, rising sales are not caused by clever advertising and appealing products alone. Purchases depend on consumers’ having disposable income, feeling confident about their future, and trusting in business and the economy. In a challenging economy like ours today, these things have changed for the consumer.

Hence, you must make changes in your approach to marketing. You must find new ways to make marketing work more effectively and get more out of marketing investments. Doing the same things in an uncertain economic environment and expecting the same results is a flawed strategy.

So what strategies can your organization adopt to market and grow the business in this challenging economic times? Some are as follows:

  1. Focus on quality over quantity

If marketing efforts focus solely on quantity over quality, fewer leads will convert, more sales resources will be wasted, and sales people will begin to distrust marketing’s lead generation programs. Commit to programs in which quality is a key attribute: programs that can deliver interested prospects, provide prospect contact information and offer reports of program performance.

  1. Start measuring your marketing efforts

Metrics will provide the data you need to spend your limited marketing budget wisely. If you are not reviewing your web statistics already, that’s a great place to start (and doesn’t have to cost a lot). Next, start building trackable landing pages and developing measurable campaigns. Then, using a technique called AB testing, begin discovering what messages resonate with customers.

In short, the challenging economic time is the time to scale back any marketing plans whose results you can’t measure or are unsure about.

  1. Think integration

Integrated marketing means your marketing strategy takes advantage of multiple media, resources and customer touch-points to create a whole that’s greater and more effective than the sum of its parts. The more that marketing efforts are integrated and comprehensive, the greater impact you can achieve in gaining visibility in your market, qualified leads and sales.

  1. Get targeted

A fundamental but sometimes overlooked marketing tenet is to “fish where the fish are.” In other words, invest in those specific, targeted media where you know your customers and prospects will be exposed to your message.

For instance, it’s likely that your potential customers use the internet. But the internet is vast, and the fish you are looking for may be using specific websites where the content is directly related to their information needs. Work with your media partners to identify and target those sites.

When you’ve rightly found where the fish are, your market offerings and message must take into consideration the fact that new customer segments emerge in challenging economic times.

In prosperous times, it would be fine to segment according to demographics (like “over 35,” or “new parent” or “middle income”) or lifestyle (like “aspirer” or “reformer”). But in a challenging economy, such segmentations may be less relevant than a psychological segmentation that takes into consideration consumers’ emotional reactions to the economic environment.

Hence, in Nigeria today, it will be better to think of your customers as falling into four groups:

The slam-on-the-brakes segment: Feels most vulnerable and hardest hit financially. This group reduces all types of spending by eliminating, postponing, decreasing, or substituting purchases.Selling Smarter for blog

Pained-but-patient consumers: Tend to be resilient and optimistic about the long term but less confident about the prospects for recovery in the near term or their ability to maintain their standard of living. Like slam-on-the-brakes consumers, they economize in all areas, though less aggressively. As news gets worse, pained-but-patient consumers increasingly migrate into the slam-on-the-brakes segment.

Comfortably well-off consumers: Feel secure about their ability to ride out current and future bumps in the economy. They consume at near-prerecession levels, though now they tend to be a little more selective about their purchases.

The live-for-today segment: Carries on as usual and for the most part remains unconcerned about savings. The consumers in this group respond to the economic challenges mainly by extending their timetables for making major purchases. They’re unlikely to change their consumption behavior unless they become unemployed.

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