The concept of disruptive innovation, whereby a new market and value network is created, grows rapidly and quickly overtakes the original market was coined by Clayton M. Christiansen in 1995. Since then it has been recognized as the hallmark business concept of our era.
We are living in a world defined by that concept of disruption. Change is a constant— whether unexpected or foreseen— and businesses that embrace it are better equipped to adapt and pursue new growth opportunities quickly.
Strategic pivots are necessary now more than ever. Regardless of what business you’re in, your brand is affected by this global health crisis and the ripple effects on our economy, personal habits, and culture. Marketing resiliency can help you overcome any economic challenge that comes your way. This is what you need to know about it.
Shift Your Mindset from Fear to the Future
Resilience is the power to rebound from challenging events and obstacles, to readjust, advance ahead and even prosper. Past recessions have taught us vital lessons about adapting marketing efforts in times of economic uncertainty. I know firsthand what it’s like, having survived and thrived through two economic downturns: the 2001 collapse of the dotcom bubble followed by the September 11 attacks, and the financial crash of 2008. Throughout those periods, I’ve observed two schools of thought:
The panic and retrench mindset
this reaction cut costs quickly and deeply rather than strategically. The tendency with this approach is to pull back on key business drivers, such as marketing out of fear. In the immediate short-term, a quick, impulsive action may feel better. However, these short-term cuts can have a devastating impact on an organization’s near and long-term growth.
The growth mindset
instead of making rash decisions, successful organizations think creatively about how to strengthen the brand’s marketing resilience during times of uncertainty. While their competitors get scared, they get bolder. History demonstrates that those who continue to invest in marketing amid recessions are set to gain the most when the dust settles. In fact, analysis of the Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies database shows that companies that increase marketing spend during recessions achieve greater returns and earn larger percentages of the market share when the economy bounces back. Well-prepared organizations see periods of market volatility as opportunities to set themselves up for future growth. They know that in times like these, building brand awareness and trust is critical.
Yes, it’s important to keep an eye on the bottom line. While some budget cuts may be inevitable in a market contraction, slashing spending and halting brand awareness initiatives will not lead to a market-leading position. These knee-jerk moves can harm a brand’s identity and its relationship with customers and prospects. Right now, customers need solutions. They are looking for trusted sources. During economic downturns, buying cycles get longer, but what gets invested now in building trust and visibility will pay off down the road.
Turn Change into a Competitive Advantage: Four Practical Steps
Organizations that emerge successfully from change make clear choices about where, how, and when to emerge using these four moves:
Goals are the “guiding star” of planning and strategy. When shifts in the market require a pivot, assessing relevant objectives and success metrics should be the first step. A good place to start is with a SWOT analysis. Map out the business’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Ask yourself: Do my current business goals align with these four areas? If not, it’s time to shift. Some goals will likely need to be eliminated altogether, while others will need a slight tweak or remain as-is.
Follow the data
With the variety of tools available to digital communicators, it’s necessary and expected that you would use the data to find strengths and weaknesses, measure the engagement, and tweak strategy as needed. Gathering data from tools such as Google Analytics offers additional visibility into when and where customers are interacting with your brand’s content and which channels are most effective in communicating your message. Taken together, this information will help you better understand what’s resonating with audiences in light of new shifts in business and social climate.
Follow the sales
Speak to your salespeople about conversations they’re having with customers as they go through the buyer’s journey. Find out what the customer’s current challenges are, what led them to your company and what benefits they’re excited to potentially gain from their point of view.
Tapping into your strengths and opportunities, in addition to customer challenges, can help your marketing team create a more relevant marketing and communication strategy and double down on the value propositions that have the greatest potential.
Modify your approach
Once you’ve evaluated goals, data, and sales, it’s time to bring it all together into one cohesive plan. Map out how you and your team can pivot both quickly and effectively. Perhaps you can redistribute your team’s resources to focus on key growth opportunities or areas that need extra support. Then, set milestones and stakes in the ground for key components for team members to map towards.
Strengthen Your Resilience Through Smart Marketing Investments
There will be market winners and losers when the dust settles after this current market disruption. Being a winner when it settles is business resilience. In line with this, resilient marketing seeks to understand which investments support both immediate priorities and help reinforce long-term success. With it, change and challenges become new opportunities for growth rather than fear and failure. The old adage rings true; the only constant in life changes. Change doesn’t have to be scary. With enough resilience, you can transform into opportunities for success.
Ms. Cara Sloman, executive vice president, Nadel Phelan, Inc., has helped shape Nadel Phelan’s brand, services, and reputation for quality and results.
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