If you’re like us, we know you’re trying to escape the barrage of news related to the current global pandemic. But here at The Old State, we have found no shortage of folks interested in content regarding how to protect their businesses during the inevitable recession.
We have received many calls from our clients asking for suggestions and recommendations to help them navigate their marketing and business strategies through the current economic conditions. Like many companies, we have adapted and have had to rethink how we prioritize our clients’ communications and marketing tactics. Below we have listed the top five tactics we have found that you can implement to help recession-proof your business:
1. Prioritize your KPIs. Good data can help guide your decision-making—that’s a fact (and we have the data to back it up). Understanding your business’s most critical key performance indicators (KPIs) can be a game-changer, especially during economic downturns. Identifying, reporting, reviewing, and fine-tuning these metrics can make a large impact very quickly for your business.
• Identify 2-10 critical KPIs required to run your business. If you’re not sure, borrow these ideas to start: determine leads, measure calls booked, calculate conversion rates, and net profit.
• Set up weekly reports. 80+ percent can be automated with tools like Google Data Studio, Google Analytics, Tableau, Quickbooks Online, and other cloud accounting software.
• Book weekly and monthly internal review and assessment sessions. These sessions can help you review your progress and design a strategy for the upcoming week/month/quarter. For more advanced KPI's, look at your leads by source, customer acquisition cost, customer lifetime value, cost of goods (COGS, and Gross Profit.
2. Organize and document your business. What better way to squeeze the most out of every dollar, than to look at ways to be—what we call, "DRY" ("Don't Repeat Yourself"). DRY has long been a key principle of software development aimed at reducing repetition. We use this acronym in both development, marketing automation, and many other areas of our daily business to describe how we approach items that we may need to spend a little extra time on—at the front end—to ensure we don't have to waste time on them in the future. If you are spending time each day doing inefficient tasks that could be digitized or documented, evaluate how you can leverage your time more effectively and you will feel the results on your top and bottom line.
• Identify 2-5 repetitive tasks you and your team do every day, week, month, or quarter and try to optimize or automate them. Examples: Identify common correspondence, emails, and questions and pre-write them with your team. Move these answers to a knowledge base, a wiki, intranet, or FAQ section on your website and refer people to them, as needed.
• Do you find yourself training or teaching the same thing over and over again? Use tools like Google Docs, Dropbox, or Trainuals to document your business so that you can send team members and colleagues links to the information rather than spending time teaching the same items over and over again. Use a tool like Hugo notes or Evernote to share meeting notes with your team so you don't have to verbally “catch them up.” These are only a few small ways to organize and document your business, but they can make a huge impact in the long run.
3. Automate your Marketing. This one is not as easy as the first two tips, but can be an overnight game-changer. To truly automate your marketing you have to initially undertake three major steps. First, ask yourself these questions: How do we attract new leads? Second question: How do we present our offerings to the new leads? And finally: how do we close a new lead? These questions are key to keeping your pipeline healthy and replenishing.
Of course, closing a lead is only the beginning. You must then serve the client well and begin to think about not only keeping them but identifying opportunities to cross-sell your other services to them.
Let's talk about attracting new leads. For 90% of our customers, the best-proven way to get new leads is by leveraging the following channels with a properly executed strategy:
• Paid Social Advertising. Paying for ads on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets allows you to target only those prospects that meet your ideal buyer personas. Hint: make each ad group/campaign tailored to each persona group. And make sure to get the targeting and enrollment parameters right. Like many things, getting pointers from a professional to help navigate this can be worth the investment and should be considered.
• Email marketing. Growing and nurturing your current contacts and clients is a great way to get new business and referrals. Make sure to create evergreen emails, like form fill confirmations, appointment follow-up surveys, and other "business as usual" emails that are deployed as part of the typical day to day functions of your business. Then, interweave timely thought leadership advice and cross-selling marketing emails. This will make your clients less likely to unsubscribe to your emails because they will find value in them. Make sure all content that you send them is helpful, useful, and relevant—not self-serving. But hitting your entire email list with marketing information time and again will only get you so far. Take the time to segment your list by industry and personas (job titles, males/females, age range, etc.). Use this data to craft tailored messaging that appeals to these persona sub-groups within your contact list.
• Paid Search Advertising. We have found that the demand is there in big ways for the vast majority of our clients, they are simply waiting for us to open the spigot. That means it’s likely there for your business too. Google and other search engines have a steady flow of people looking for what you offer. So what is a qualified lead worth? Well, you must first conduct keyword research to find the search terms and words most applicable to your business and triage these by the most viable with the highest daily or monthly search volume. Then you can create paid search campaigns targeting each keyword group. Set your regions and daily budget per campaign. This is another area where help from a certified Google partner can be worth the investment.
Develop customer personas. Meet with your management, sales, and service teams, and develop three to six persona groups for your customer base. List a five-year age range for each persona group, level of education, and job titles, what motivates them, what their degree is in, what they drive, what their hobbies are, etc. Give each persona group a name, then try to group your contact list members in these persona groups and write emails for each group. We do this with all of our client strategies and it is a major game-changer for engagement and conversion rates.
4. Get Reviews. Do you have happy customers? Ask them politely for a Google review. Getting good reviews can be a one stone many birds scenario. First of all, it will help your standing with Google and other search engines. These reviews can then be used in email marketing and on your website as testimonials. We have an email that goes out to every client of ours asking them to rate our performance and leave a review. It is a great way to perform a health check on your customer experience as well as build your brand's reputation. There are a variety of tools and platforms out there that can help you automate this process like Birdeye and Podium, but it is also easy to solicit reviews with a simple email from your leadership to your customers asking for a review of their experience.
Send an email out to your latest 10 successful client engagements or customers and ask them politely to leave you a Google review. Wait a week and check your Google listing for responses. If you had high engagement (i.e. over five of the 10 left a review) then rinse and repeat on larger groups of email contacts. If you had low engagement, tweak the original email copy and try again with another 10 clients. Once you get the message asking for their participation correct you will know with a high number of reviews. Bake this into part of your process into every customer engagement.
5. Be Consistent with your content. Many people we know have the best of intentions in keeping up with their blog, email marketing, social media channels, videos, etc. But the reality is people get busy and they do not keep a consistent rhythm with their content. It is important to not only create good content and get it out there consistently, but it is also important that the content is strategic and speaks to your primary audiences. Our team helps customers create content strategies that consistently generate engagement and lead volume. Try the exercise below and reach out if you need a hand.
Create a content calendar for the next three months and try to meet each deadline. Try to do one thought-leadership/blog post per week (Hint: Write your topic and title for each blog in the calendar). By doing this, when the time comes to write your post, you have had time to think about it. Schedule at least two social media posts per week and write one email to your customers per month. Once complete, review the engagement data, write it down, and refer back to #1.
These are just a few cost-effective things you can do to help recession-proof your business right now. Of course, there are many more strategies and tactics to evaluate, but like most things in life, you have to start small and go for some quick wins and low-hanging fruit.
By implementing these best practices you will be well on your way to fortifying your business during these uncertain times—and those that may happen in the future. These tips will most surely impact your lead volume and your top and bottom line.
If you would like to talk with us about implementing any of the strategies above or explore any of our services, reach out, and let's talk!