Are You Ready to Market After the Recession?

The recession is over.

That’s right, I said it. Whether you agree, of course, is up to you and the economic indicators you trust. But I’m hardly alone in my declaration. From news journals on Wall Street and politicians in Washington, D.C., to Web sites dedicated to high finance, sightings of economic “green shoots” have abounded, as have suggestions that the worst of the downturn is behind us. And even pessimists who disagree still concede that the slowdown probably won’t continue too much longer.

So what do you do when prosperity returns? I raised this to the Harvard Business School’s John Quelch — who recently blogged on marketing after the recession — to get a better handle on how brands can survive the current climate while arming themselves for the recovery. We agreed that you should consider these actions for when the economy bounces back:

• Get up close and personal. One-to-one marketing is a necessity. Use personalized marketing via mail, e-mail and social platforms — and ideally a combination of all three — to stay close to existing customers and reinforce their commitment to your brand.

• Identify customers least affected by the recession. Focus on the recession-resistant part of your market and use the extensive info you have on your existing customers. That way you can come out swinging when recovery arrives.

• Determine how your customer has changed. Consumers have rethought brand loyalties and spending habits. Direct mail is easily measurable, so use your pieces to test which messages they’re responding to now.

• Stick to your core. Evaluate your brands to determine which have suffered least and focus your post-recession resources there. Now is not the time to experiment — wary consumers want what they already know. Put rebranding and expansions on hold until people are more comfortable.

• Rally the troops. Motivate and incentivize your employees to deliver a positive experience for consumers reentering the market. Educate them on any changes you’ve discovered about your customers since the recession began.

• Practice cost-effective courting. Look to social platforms, e-mail and direct mail to drive prospective customers when normalcy returns. Mail catalogs containing extensive information on a suite of products in lieu of one-off promotions.

• Take advantage of the fire sale. Leverage recession-inspired bargains before they vanish. Printers have likely lowered their prices, and contractors are eager, available and ready to deal, so ask for a discount.

• Get moving — now. Boost your marketing efforts now. If you wait for a proclamation that the rebound is officially here, you already will be behind. People will think of you first if you’re out there when the economy does pick up.

By Paula Andruss

Are You Ready to Market After the Recession?

Paula Andruss is a Cincinnati-based freelance writer. Her work has appeared in Marketing News, Crain’s Chicago Business, WomensWallStreet.com and Work.com, among other places. She also runs her own Web site, paulaandruss.com.

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