Recessions happen. And when they do, buying budgets typically shrink, leading to slower sales cycles and fewer deals closed. With topline revenue growth slowing if not halting altogether, investor and CFO attention turns to the bottom line. And all of this puts an increased premium on the effectiveness of every dollar spent… especially on Marketing.
So what’s a renegade marketer to do knowing that a recession is likely right around the corner? The answer is not to find a new career path! Instead, the renegade marketer does three things:
First, they make sure they can position their brand as a “must-have” versus a nice-to-have product/service. Second, they make sure they can defend all aspects of their budget but are nonetheless prepared to make cuts that will have the least impact. And third, they are fully prepared to expand customer marketing activities, a topic we will cover in greater length in this newsletter.
Build or Enhance Your User Community
Since new customers will be that much harder to come by, retaining customers will be a top priority for your company in 2023. There are few better ways to stay on top of your customers’ challenges than hosting a customer community. If you don’t have a customer community, then now is the time to start. If you do have one, think about ways to enhance the value delivered, whether through adding community managers, creating physical events, or using software tools like Influitive. And where possible, offer free product certifications that your customers can add to their personal profiles.
Know Your Customer’s Recession Pain Points
If there is a recession, most likely your customers will also feel the pinch. But how? This is for you, the empathetic CMO, to figure out through direct and indirect means. At a minimum, you can sit in on customer calls and read industry-related publications. You can also talk to category analysts. Or you can kick it up a notch and host roundtable discussions with your customers to not only help anticipate their potential recession pain points but also help them develop solutions to counteract their challenges.
Start or Nourish Your Customer Advisory Board (CAB)
Every CMO with a CAB knows its value. These customers can be the front line in terms of evaluating your product roadmap, reviewing new messaging, and providing testimonials/case histories. The key is to make sure they are always getting value themselves through a combination of the latest product information, advanced user training, building their peer network, and personal brand exposure. The more love you give, the more love you’ll get back not just in renewals but also in upgrades and referrals.
Leverage Awards to Secure Case Histories
One of the easiest ways of getting your best customers to say nice things about your brand is to give them awards. This can even work in the case of those large, well-known customers whose contracts prohibit named testimonials. Rather than give the award to the company, give it to an individual and then use the award as a chance to record that individual on-camera. Award entries often become the blueprints for case studies, webinars, and even podcasts.
Celebrate Customers via Fresh Content
Most B2B brands think of their customers as the hero of their brand story yet few celebrate their customers consistently and with any sense of style. Now is the time to really put the customer at the center of your story, in big and little ways. Start a podcast for the simple purpose of celebrating your customers and learning from them. Feature your customers in reports (they will be flattered that you asked for their insights), in high-profile ads, in webinars, at your tradeshow keynotes, and via social media videos (think “profiles in courage”).
We’re talking all things customer marketing in 5 Huddles this month. If you’re not part of these conversations but would like to be, please check out CMOHuddles.com to see if you qualify.