Frankly, whether the economy is up or down doesn’t make a lot of difference to me. As marketers we are responsible for growing sales in ALL situations. Basically, people, no whining!
But it is important to understand what’s happening now. Because some owners are hunkered down waiting for this down cycle to take us back up to where things used to be. Big mistake. Here’s why-
Eighteen months ago I came across Jeffrey Immelt (CEO of GE) addressing some big wigs. We’re entering an economic reset, not a recession was his message. Then I heard Steve Ballmer basically say the same thing. This is not a cycle / things aren’t headed back to the way they used to be was his message. Then the book, The Great Reset by Richard Florida.
Maybe you recognize something because you had never thought about it before, or because what’s being said exactly describes what you’re seeing. It was both, actually, for me, with reset. I’ve helped companies through 911, two recessions, two invasions and, now, this. Have you ever seen anything like this? I haven’t.
What this means to you:
If you read the book, this isn’t a time for doom and gloom. Yes, companies with “all their eggs in one basket” and that basket happened to be tied to housing, old-line manufacturing, etc., well, they’re hurting or gone. But don’t blame the economy. Blame them. Blame them for not being diversified or for being in denial or for being late.
As with most transitions, and this is a big one, opportunities are created; innovation is rewarded. The book makes a strong case for this. If you look at the periods after the crash of the 1870s (yes, there was a crash then) and the 1930s, the spoils go to those who recognize the shift and move early. There were more new patents filed per capita, as an example, during those two periods than before or since.
You don’t have to be first, just early.
People are changing why they buy, how they buy, how much they buy. This is a fact. The people doing the buying are changing too. This is a fact. It just makes sense your marketing needs to change as well.
Hunker down and wait for things to get better? Nope. Now, or something close to it, may well be the new normal. At least for long enough (years!) you can’t wait that long.
So, where does this leave you? I could fall back to an inspirational sports reference (The other team has to play in the rain too!!) or even paraphrase Aristotle (A is A, regardless of what you want A to be. Recognize it, accept it and move forward!). My best advice:
Accept that you’ll need to make changes in your message at a minimum. And perhaps even to your fundamental value proposition or who you sell to.
Move forward. Start now, don’t wait. Ask your customers. Create small tests. Measure, refine, repeat.
Do it with me, do it with another consultant or do it alone, but start.