In our previous blogs on marketing in a recession, we shared best practices on how to approach marketing in a downturn and why it’s a great time to build and optimize the assets it takes to attract buyers and convert them to customers. But when times are tough for your customers, it’s just as important to use your marketing to show them some love.
Now is the perfect time to think less about getting and more about giving. If that sounds 100% altruistic, it’s not: Companies that give more during down times get more back in boon times. The more value you offer your customers today, the greater your reward (and theirs) tomorrow.
So how can your marketing pay it forward to customers? Try these 8 tips.
1. Sell less, help more
Just like we advised in the early days of the pandemic, it’s important to step out of your own shoes and consider what your buyers may be experiencing during these uncertain times. It can be tempting to think, “Our Q2 revenue was down—let’s start spam-emailing prospects!” But tactics like that won’t work AND they won’t be appreciated or well received right now.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t keep generating content and other assets that bring ideal buyers into your revenue funnel. You absolutely should! But it’s better to tamp down the hard-sell and turn up ways to help your customers with information and education.
2. Engage even more than before
Engaging with your customers is always important, but even more so when they’re feeling vulnerable and anxious. Show them you care about what they need, think, and believe by beefing up your efforts to get their feedback. Use your social channels and surveys to find out what’s on their minds. Then be sure to report back what you find out and how you plan to factor those findings into your products, services, and support.
3. Nurture your customers
Marketers tend to think of “nurturing” as something you do with leads that have yet to become customers. The whole funnel is designed to bring in cold leads at the top and turn out customers at the bottom. But think about it: All the useful, informative content you create tends to go to your leads (buyers you have a limited relationship with) and not your customers (people who’ve already made a commitment to your company and vice versa).
Why not loop your customers back to the top of the funnel and keep delivering informative content and insights that can help them solve a problem or address a challenge? It’s a great way to show you’re keeping them top of mind and committed to serving as a resource—and marketing automation tools like HubSpot make it easy and efficient to do. (Just omit anything too sales related. And make sure your account management and customer service colleagues know what you’re up to, so there are no surprises.)
4. Be a valued resource
Feeding your customers back into your nurturing campaigns (tip #3) is only one way to serve as a useful resource. Look for other ways to be of service and value to your customers, beyond offering them products and services.
If you come across an industry report your customers would likely find informative, share it through your social channels. If an organization is hosting a webinar or other event your customers could benefit from, let them know about it. Truly being a resource means looking outside your own four walls and recognizing that you don’t always need to be the one that’s delivering the value. It’s not always about you—or at least it shouldn’t be.
5. Connect people
Some people are naturally good at connecting others—a skill that’s much appreciated in these uncertain times. How can your company do the same? By beginning to look at your customer base as its own community.
Find ways to connect members of your customer community to each other for their mutual benefit. Perhaps two customers have the potential to do business together or serve as referral sources for each other. One of our environmental consulting clients once asked us to speak about the topic of modern marketing at their customer conference. It was entirely for the benefit of their customers, providing free advice on how they could use marketing to grow.
6. Give back more thoughtfully and creatively
Most companies have a budget for charitable giving, which is much appreciated by recipients! But giving back is most effective when it goes beyond writing checks and putting logos on t-shirts, especially during a downturn.
Find out what causes are most important to your top customers, then mobilize your staff en masse to volunteer their time and talents to organizations that align with your customers’ passions. Maybe you and your customer can work on a charitable project together (a great way to strengthen relationships). Or maybe your organization can give in ways your customer can’t. No matter what form it takes, when you do good things, you reap good things.
7. Rethink your gift-giving
If you still send customers year-end holiday cards or gifts, think about how to make that a more useful effort. A fruit basket is nice—but what about offering a few customers free registration to your next conference or a subscription to an industry news outlet? It might be just what they need to avoid cutting a useful resource out of their budget. Your customer relationship management (CRM) software can help identify the customers to target with your offer, based on criteria like how long they’ve been with you or their company size.
8. Take care of the people who take care of your customers
This isn’t exactly a marketing tip, but we’re taking our own advice and keeping the focus off us: Keep in mind that your staff may be stressed and anxious in these volatile times. They might be concerned about the safety of their jobs or maybe a family member’s job. When you take good care of the people who take good care of your customers, those actions will have far-reaching ripple effects.
In our 18 years in business, Marketri has helped B2B clients navigate the ups-and-downs of many economic cycles. If you’d like insights on how to market in a relevant and thoughtful way in these challenging times, schedule a call with our CEO Deb Andrews.