Soft economy

3 steps to building business in a soft economy

When markets soften, competition intensifies for the fewer, lower-spending customers. Many brands ‘batten down the hatches’, trimming their marketing budgets and teams. And while most marketers understand that it’s cheaper to build market share in tough times, it’s hard to make that case when the ROI horizon is next month, not next year.

The temptation is to retreat to ‘low risk’ investments that link directly to immediate sales. The problem with this approach is that your competitors are all doing the same thing. For instance, a common response to a softening market is to reapportion budget to search. But as more competitors join this retreat, the cost per click keeps rising.

Here are three key recommendations to help you grow sales, increase market share and maintain brand health in tough times.

1. Convert more effectively

If the cost of a lead is double what it was a year ago, you’d better be twice as good at converting that lead. You can do this by:

  • Understanding your customer better so that you’re more able to meet his or her need. Ensure that your buyer personas are as tight and insightful as possible and test them regularly to see if they’re still relevant. You may need to add, re-frame or drop some. Only a detailed analysis will provide the insights you’ll need to optimise your buyer personas.
  • Ensure the buyer journey is as crisp and positive as possible. Your buyer personas will tell you how high-touch your user journey should be – whether they want you to engage with them or simply deliver and get out of the way. Either way, be sure to build in an element of delight to your buyer journey to encourage repeat business and advocacy.
2. Don’t ignore the top of your sales funnel

Conversion only works when you’ve got leads to convert. How do you generate them in tough times?

  • Remember the power of brand advertising to drive preference. Genuinely creative brand ideas have the power to lessen resistance all the way down the sales funnel. A softening economy also means softer media costs. You’d be surprised how much value you can generate when your competitors are in retreat. Distressed media offers are everywhere.
  • Leverage social media by ‘giving away’ high-quality, problem-solving content that builds brand trust. This won’t happen overnight, but if your content flywheel is always on, it will deliver new prospects at a low cost.
3. Make market share your objective

Succeeding in softer times means winning market share from your competitors without trashing brand value.

  • Market cost-effectively but aggressively. Focus on both awareness and conversion. Incremental market share won cheaply during tough times turns into a much more attractive proposition when the market comes back.  And it’s going to cost your competitors a lot more to win that share back from you when the economy is buzzing.
  • Make discounting your last resort. Instead, maintain your price position by value-adding. That way, when things come back you won’t have to re-establish a premium.
Simple, but not easy

Building market share in tough times is a well-established business maxim. But with the pressure of managing competing priorities in your business, there’s nothing easy about it. Throw in a nervous board or CEO and things quickly get complicated.

Help might take the form of a carefully considered business case showing acceptable ROI. Alternatively, you may consider an exploration of unconventional ways to build your share of voice through an Inbound Marketing program.

No matter what you choose, you’ll be better off with an objective view from an entrepreneurial partner. Book a time to chat to a DPR&Co inbound marketing strategist. We promise you’ll leave feeling more comfortable about your ability to thrive in harder times.