In business, simply surviving the year can be a big accomplishment — and I don’t just mean the first 12 months that your company exists; I mean every year. One reason for that is the economy, which can feel like a rollercoaster for an entrepreneur. However unpredictable it seems, though, the economy actually functions in cycles. Unfortunately, many of the estimates I’m hearing predict that the end of 2019 or early 2020 will bring the start of the next recession.
A recession is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be, especially if you’re not prepared. In the best-case scenario, the economy keeps growing through 2020 and your company stays stable. But if we do end up facing a downswing, I don’t want you to be caught off guard. That’s why I strongly urge you to implement these three strategies, which will benefit you whenever the economy turns.
Strategy No. 1: Embrace Relationship Marketing
The first strategy you MUST implement is relationship marketing.
Relationship marketing is a complicated but necessary beast. Think about it: If the economy shifts and I have to be more frugal, why would I continue to do business with you over the lowest-priced option? You could argue that you provide excellent service, but doesn’t everyone say they have the best service? Even unique selling propositions can be copied by competitors.
So, how do you create a relationship marketing campaign? Well, all relationships start with regular communication. Over time, that communication builds valuable trust.
My research shows that if you go six months without communicating with your customers and prospects, their trust in you will be equal to their faith in a brand-new vendor in your category. That means that the right offer at the right time will easily persuade them to leave and try your competitor. At a minimum, you’ll lose the revenue for that transaction, and you’ll run the risk of losing the customer forever.
So, how do you communicate with a customer or prospect on a regular basis? And how do you keep them from being bored, while still communicating at scale?
Many times, one product can help on multiple fronts. For example, newsletters accomplish all of the above as long as you use the right formula for creating your content. I know that statement is self-serving, but it doesn’t make it any less true.
A newsletter is a great first start, but you definitely need more than that to build a solid relationship. Birthday cards or gifts are awesome, or you can send useful emails that add value to your customer. Events are also a great way to get face time with your customers and prospects, particularly if those events are fun and provide useful information.
Strategy No. 2: Sell Those Extras
Selling your customers additional products and services is another huge relationship builder that’s seldom talked about.
There is a reason phone and cable companies bundle three services together for the best price: It lowers churn, and the more positive interactions you have with a company, the deeper and better your relationship will be. So, ask yourself, what else can you sell to your existing customers that will help them and, in turn, endear you to them more?
Don’t forget: To make this strategy really work, you need to offer complementary products and services that add value and help the end-user.
Strategy No. 3: Boost Your Celebrity Status
Another overlooked (but powerful) recession-proof strategy to help with growth is celebrity. I’m not talking about the Kim Kardashian level of celebrity, though that would certainly help you sell. I’m talking about local or niche-based celebrity.
Most people simply don’t employ this strategy, either because they feel that saying they want to be a celebrity is weird and vain, or because they think it sounds too hard. It’s true that it can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.
Having the label “as seen on ABC, FOX, NBC, CBS, or the CW” adds celebrity. Speaking to your niche onstage helps, and writing a book is a huge celebrity booster. Plenty of people build celebrity on Instagram and other social media platforms, too, so why can’t you?
Most people want to associate themselves with celebrities, and it doesn’t suck from a referral standpoint to have someone bragging about being your customer. I could write a whole blog post on this single topic, but to get started, you need to start publishing media on a regular basis. It could be YouTube videos, newsletters, books, Instagram posts, or better yet, all of the above. After that, you need to be seen on the above-mentioned TV channels. Slowly but surely, you’ll start to build a following.
Goodbye, Gravy Train
I want to end back where we started: The slowdown is coming. Many people don’t realize that, according to economists, we’ve been out of the Great Recession since 2011. This good economy is now going on nine years.
To give you an example of how good it has been, in 2011, the average closing price of the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 11,958 — this year, we’ve seen record-breaking numbers more than double that.
The gravy train has to stop at some point. The question is this: Will you and your business be ready for the slowdown, or will you ignore my advice and end up scrambling to survive and thrive? The choice is yours.