Following on from last weeks first five, here are the next five thought starters on strategies to help keep your business and brands thriving through this recession. These are all things that good marketers do all the time anyway, right? Well if not, now is the time! No more shooting from the hip: it is the time for informed, strategic, granular plans that focus on results. And remeber don’t forget to review some of the thoughts from last weeks post: Stay close to your consumers and optimse your value proposition!
1. Are managing your budget tightly? – Are you backing your winners?: There will obviously be huge pressure on you to cut back your spend – especially from your CFO and CEO as they seek to save costs. With the right business case you may actually have an argument to increase the support behind your brands – particularly if you get your value proposition right and your brand is strong. There are plenty of case studies of brands increasing investment during a recession and growing their business and share. But lets be realistic, in the majority of cases the CFO will come around several times during the year, cap in hand, asking you to “ring-fence” funds or hand them back. How do you decide where to invest? In addition to the ROI analysis you will already by doing on all your campaigns (right?) my recommendation would be to spend where you are winning. Look at your portfolio or products and brands and increase investment behind the things you know are working. Quickly cut your loses on the losers and focus your energy and budget on your most profitable products in the segments you are winning in. This is not the time to be backing your no. 3 or 4. brands.
2. Are you staying close to your influencers?: During a recession PR is very important both for your company reputation and also as a cost effective way to reach consumers. There is a whole blog post from the Blender on the rise and role of social media, but the bottom line is you need to focus on your influencers, whether they be traditional media (I include online versions of offline media as traditional media) or bloggers, or social network groups. By winning over your influencers, you can reach whole communities at relatively low cost. Remember in the digital age the voice of one customer can quickly become the voice of a million.
3. Are You Winning at the First Moment of Truth?: P&G CEO AG Laffley said very succinctly: “In a more recessionary type of environment, more decisions are made in the store, so we have to be competitive in the store”. Really there is not much more to say – if you aren’t winning in store, you are not winning. You don’t want to be one of those brands that people say “oh yeah, I LOVE that brand, but i didn’t buy it!”. At the recent WPP Retail forum in sydney David Roth from The Store said “your brand needs to convey its value proposition within 5 secs from 5 metres away!” He calls this the 5×5 model.
4. Are you flexible & nimble?: Whatever happens and whatever comes your way over the next 12-24 months, one thing is really important – stay on your toes and be prepared to act quickly. Don’t stick your head in the sand and pull the proverbial doona up over your head. Although you need to still have an idea of your long term plans, what is crucial in this environment is that you are managing your business quarter by quarter and month by month – be prepared to change your plans and work closely with your suppliers and customers to ensure that you are responding to their needs as well. Where you want to be at the end of the this? When the upturn occurs? Use this vision as your brand’s strategic North Star – but how you get there needs to managed on a day to day basis. This is not the time to set and forget!
5. Are you engaging & delighting your customers? This may sound like a no brainer. But in all the stress to get your pricing, distribution, retail and promotional strategies right don’t forget one thing that will probably above all else ensure you stay on top of the shopping list: Engage and delight your customers. People still want to be entertained, they still want to be rewarded and they still want to feel special. In fact probably more so in these times, the brands that show empathy and surprise their customers with small or big moments of joy, escapism, luxuary, pampering are the brands that will definitely still still be here after all the other dinosaurs are long gone.