Okay, so there’s some concern going around about a recession.
Will it impact your business? Is it already impacting your business?
Some of you have said that leads are drying up and clients are canceling services with you. So let’s get in front of it.
Here are a few ideas to consider here if you want to thrive during a recession or market downturn:
- Don’t panic—lead your clients
- Stay close to the money—focus on ROI, not just deliverables
- Be the better alternative to in-house employees
- Be ready to scale up or down as needed
- Invest in your expertise—be irreplaceable
- And of course, keep marketing yourself
The last scare like this
When COVID hit, my advice to my consulting clients (not marketers) was to a) get expenses in check so they could weather a potentially long storm and b) lean into marketing harder than ever before.
And while this advice is applicable to us as marketers again today, there’s a big difference between the COVID scare and an economic recession. The main difference is how much money (or lack thereof) is floating around.
I’m not an economist, but I see four big things happening now:
- Interest rates are going up, making debt more expensive, reducing overall spending, tanking stocks
- There’s less “free” money sloshing around in the economy in the form of stimulus cheques/checks
- Inflation is high and seems to be continuing—meaning everything is getting more expensive
- Unemployment is still low, so hiring employees is difficult (and expensive!) for your clients
And with that, companies are forced to tighten up. At least in some areas.
So what should you do?
1. Don’t panic—lead
As marketers, you have a remarkable ability to be nimble in times like these.
Remember that, unlike other discretionary business spending, marketing is still necessary and even more important in hard times than in good.
Here’s a great thread by Asia Orangio with data on how companies have fared when they leaned into marketing vs. pulling back during recessions.
Learn this stuff. Advise your clients on it. Be their fiduciary.
2. Stay close to the money
Your job is to help your clients make a financial business case to work with you.
Stay close to the ROI. Talk in terms of investment and returns—not just tasks and deliverables.
I can’t emphasize this enough. Focus on value, not deliverables.
Your clients are always thinking about how one thing creates more business profit or financial impact than it costs. Show them. Use my KPI sheet available in the MindshareOS package.
Focus on the KPIs that are moving the needle in terms of customer acquisition, retention, repeat purchases, and revenue per client/transaction.
Look at secondary metrics like volume and costs per lead, conversion rates, number of net new customers, account expansion, audience growth, and partnership opportunities.
3. Be the better alternative to in-house employees
In uncertain times, people want optionality. Use that to your advantage.
Your goal should be to position yourself as the better alternative to in-house marketing employees and teams.
You do that by having rare expertise (see #5 below) and flexibility.
Instead of hiring a new marketing manager, companies can hire a fractional CMO along with their recommended contractors for execution work—often for less than the cost of a senior marketing hire.
They can then turn on, off, up, or down the individual channels as-needed.
This is the flexibility they’re looking for.
I have seen this trend in marketing departments happening for a while and believe it will continue.
Agencies and freelancers who are willing to evolve what they deliver every month instead of sticking to a fixed scope of services will reduce the chance they’ll be fired and replaced with more flexible options.
Be nimble. Your value prop is greater expertise (and output) for the same or less than hiring internally.
Oh, and long contracts won’t be ideal, either.
4. Be ready to scale up or down as needed
Have down-sell options available.
If you’re 2x more expensive than all the other contractors, you’re at risk of being chopped.
Be proactive about reducing your fees (and scope) in cases where the value or demands require it.
Otherwise, clients think their only option is to fire you entirely. Think about this and make recommendations before they ask.
If you do drop your fees, drop your scope as well.
No discounts here. Price drops always include a scope drop.
My lower-cost services are often more profitable per hour than my high-ticket stuff. I give people better pricing when they buy more, not the other way around.
Don’t chop your fees when your clients need you to grow.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that three clients have expanded scope with me in the last few weeks. Smart operators know they need marketing leadership now more than ever.
Scale up or down as needed.
5. Continue investing in your expertise
Make yourself irreplaceable.
In the coworking niche I serve, there’s literally nobody (that I’m aware of) with my combination of marketing expertise and industry knowledge.
Sure, others have both traits independently. But I keep investing in my unique knowledge combination of marketing strategy, tactical execution, and industry-specific trends.
You simply can’t hire an employee or agency who can do what I can or bring the same value per dollar. At least… not easily. 🙂
And that has helped me increase scope with two clients in the past couple of weeks in the coworking industry (and one more in another industry).
6. And of course, keep marketing yourself
Stay consistent with your publishing, even if it seems like it’s bearing little fruit. Deals take time to form.
Talk about the state of the industry you serve. Share stories about what others are doing. Teach people the ways of flexibility and adaptability.
Make connections with your peers (i.e. in the free Mindshare community or via social media circles). Talk shop to stay on the pulse of things.
Be an advisor to your potential clients before they even hire you. That’s how they know you’ll be a good asset when they do hire you.
Don’t get desperate, know your value, and keep doing your thing.
Market downturns affect all of us differently. But clients are still hiring and doing marketing. They always will.
It’s up to you to help your current clients get the best results possible in a flexible manner while leading your audience/potential clients, much in the same way you would advise your own clients.
Remember, people flock to leadership in uncertain times. Be the guide.
Oh, and don’t forget to focus on the ROI—even if it’s a longterm process.