Recession proof your brand and plan for growth
In November 2022, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced that the UK has fallen into a recession. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth caused by economic shocks (such as a spike in oil prices), financial panics (like the one that preceded the Great Recession), rapid changes in economic expectations or a combination of the three. Both Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have had negative effects on the UK economy with rising inflation, high energy costs, plunging stocks and supply chain issues, which have ultimately led to the current recession.
Whilst a recession can be scary for your business, there are ways to reduce the impact. Research has shown that businesses who prepare for a recession are the ones that flourish and out perform competitors after.
So, how can you recession proof your brand and plan for growth?
Firstly, evaluate your current business and marketing strategy. A strategic process sets a foundation for your activity so it is important to ensure that your business values are strongly defined. You must ensure that you have a clearly set out mission and values for your business. In turn, you should then make sure this is inherent in your marketing and communications.
A recession will mean your business faces an unavoidable change. When reviewing your current business strategy to plan for a recession, you should consider these questions:
- Are you redefining your business goals?
- What are your short- and long-term objectives?
- How does this affect current marketing activity?
- How does this affect your resource and budget?
Reviewing where your business currently stands can help to prepare for the future, and a recession is no different. Your current strategy should be constantly reviewed as your business moves forward and be agile to market and customer changes.
Your audience and their attitude towards you will change during a recession. Consider these questions about your audience when adapting your strategy:
- Will they engage with you differently?
- How will they behave?
- Will you lose or gain new customers as a result of the recession?
You should consider the possibility that new customers will look to you during a recession. Customers will look at their spending habits and change their priorities, perhaps even looking at alternative options. It is important to portray your business as a suitable alternative to new customers, as well as showing your support to existing customers during financial difficulty.
It is also worth asking customers how they feel about the recession. Putting together a well-designed survey can open lots of opportunities to identify changes in market trends, customer need and buying behaviour. Ultimately, this will lead to help reshape the product offering, up or cross selling opportunities and tailoring of your marketing message to suit the changed needs and demands.
After considering if your audience’s needs have changed, take time to consider their journey with you. Using the research gathered so far, consider the different phases of your current customer journey and highlight any opportunities or improvements that can be made.
"Content during recessions must reflect the challenges that consumers are encountering."Harvard Business Review
Current marketing strategy
Once you have defined your overall strategy, review this alongside your current marketing strategy. What works and what does not? If you are reviewing your business’ budget, you will want to focus on the areas of your marketing strategy that are benefitting you the most. When assessing your marketing tools, you should consider four things:
- Are you targeting the right audience? Your marketing strategy should be targeting your audience segments based on their habits and preferred communication methods.
- Is your content engaging? Look at your digital platform, for example social media, and review the content. What type of content has the highest engagement?
- Are you posting about relevant topics? Make sure the content on your website and social platforms are relevant to your business or industry. Additionally, think about topics your customers will search for. Incorporating these topics into your content and strategy will help to optimise your website and social platform’s potential.
- Are your chosen social platforms effective as they could be? Have you chosen platforms that customers will want to follow your business on? Does your identified segment use all or any of the social media platforms you are currently on? Ensure you are using the correct channels and creating the right content to encourage the customer through the customer journey.
By implementing these sections of your strategy, you will be prepared for the recession by focusing on your customers and refining your strategy to their revised needs. However, after setting your recession strategy, it is important to measure its effectiveness and make improvements where necessary. Do not forget to plan regular reports on:
- Return on Investment – set clear goals and see if they are being achieved
- Delivering business outcomes – this should be linked to your strategic objectives which may put a spotlight on brand reputation or client engagement
- Engagement – use your website statistics, social media and search engine performance to measure customer’s engagement
In summary, to recession proof your business and plan for growth, you must consider your brand and strategic direction, your audience, customer opinions, and current marketing effectiveness. By implementing these areas within your strategy, your business will be focused on the future, which will help you grow.