The Definitive Guide

How to Recession-Proof your Business - and Rebound!

When the &%@# hits the fan, you need immediate, actionable strategies and tactics to recession-proof and rebound your business. In an economic downturn paired with a public health crisis, clients and customers aren’t just going to be more cautious about spending money; their buying behaviors and psychology are also going to change.

Are you ready to adapt?

The truth is that plenty of businesses have not only survived, but thrived during unpredictable economic times. Some of the leading brands we know today got their big break during a downturn. Maybe you’ve heard of some of them: GE, Disney, HP, Microsoft?

as sure as the spring will follow the winter, prosperity and economic growth will follow recession

Businesses have overcome economic challenges by seeing downturns as times of opportunity. Now is the time to be creative and pivot your business. Take advantage of this ever-evolving new normal and build a recession-resistant business.

We have assembled our team of experts to help businesses large and small not only survive but thrive in these tough times. Explore our guide for tactics you can implement today to start positioning your business for a rebound.

Is this Guide for You?

small business

YES!

If you are a small or mid-sized business
owner hustling to survive in a period of
rapid economic change.

B2B company

YES!

If you are a B2B company struggling with a shifting customer portfolio while rapidly pivoting your sales team to virtual prospecting and nurturing.

B2C company

YES!

If you are a B2C company that needs to adapt to the changing purchasing and decision-making habits of customers impacted by adownturn.

Strategize for Success: Winners and Losers 

There’s much to be learned from businesses that both succeeded and failed during prior recessions.

As you hunker down for tough times ahead, it’s important to recognize that many other leaders have weathered the storm. They did this by staying calm, diversifying their income and investing time in innovation, creativity and education.

Seize this opportunity to stay ahead of your competitors by positioning your business and your team for the road ahead. Building and strengthening your brand through this period is one of the best ways to reduce risk.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of the tactics you can engage in during this time, take a step back and think about your situation strategically.

Here’s how to start:

Think Calmly and Strategically

Think Calmly and StrategicallyWhile fast, informed decision-making is key when the financial bottom falls out, knee-jerk emotional reactions can lead to ill-informed decisions that may tank your business. Ensure you are using data and strategic thinking to map out your course ahead.

Take a look at your business plan to tighten and adapt it to the changing economic landscape. Have an open, honest look at your three-year projections and financial expenditures. It’s also a great time to perform digital and content audits of your existing online resources to see how they can be optimized and adapted for the current situation.

This is a good time to bring in your most trusted employees and strategic thinkers for a meeting about how they anticipate how markets are changing.

Be Creative About Revenue

Be Creative About RevenueWe all hear about “diversifying income streams,” but what does that mean during a recession? It means finding new audiences for your products, refining your current offerings and being creative with how you present yourself and your brand in the market.

Examine your current product lines and look for gaps and opportunities. What job is your product filling for your customers? What other jobs do those same customers need filling right now? It’s also a good time to look into ways to monetize your thought leadership and expertise.

Invest in What (and Who) Matters

Invest in What (and Who) MattersWhen a recession looms, the first casualties at businesses of every size are often the marketing and sales teams. But it turns out this is the absolute worst time to dis-invest from these areas of your business. What happens when your customers stop hearing from you? They forget about you.

Step up your sales efforts and reach out to existing customers and potential buyers to form deeper, more meaningful relationships with them. Clients and customers will share positive experiences with others. Word of mouth will be more important than ever. Invest in strategic, low-cost outreach via personalized video, lead nurturing and content creation that provides value and demonstrates knowledge leadership in your area of expertise.

Be open, transparent, and speak honestly and kindly, and your employees and customers will respond and remember. How leaders respond in difficult times can define their business and their legacy for years to come.

Additional resources for strategically positioning your business during a recession:

>> (Expert Tips) How to Recession-Proof your Business to Survive - and Thrive

>> (Video) Survival Tips for Keeping Your Business in Business

Make Investments in E-Commerce

During a recession, more people will be spending time online trying to get the goods and services they need. If you haven’t yet explored e-commerce options for your business, or if you want to grow and enhance your existing offering, here are some tips to help you get started:

Make Investments in E-Commerce

 

Find the right platform. Select an e-commerce platform that allows you to reach your customers where they are. Platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce can integrate with your current website and are used by large companies and small business owners. Most importantly, choose a platform with excellent customer service. You will appreciate it later!

shopify logo     woocommerce logo

Keep it simple. If this is the first time you’re dipping a toe into the e-commerce world, start small and simple. Add a few core products with clear headlines and great imagery. Three to five benefit-focused bullets per product are plenty! You can always beef up the store’s offerings over time.

Brand it to match your business. It might seem obvious, but the design, color palette, and logo of your online store should match the look and feel of all of your other business collateral. Invest the time in making the experience of shopping from you.

Optimize the platform for your audience. Seek out plugins or add-ons that will enhance the buying experience for your particular audiences, such as foreign language/foreign shipping support, SEO optimization, mobile support or remarketing capabilities.

Tell the world! It’s no use having an online store if no one knows about it. Promote your new venture to your existing mailing list, on your Google My Business Listing, on your website, and in your social channels. It may even be worth investing in a direct mail piece to spread the word to existing customers. Wherever your audience lives - that’s where you should reach out to them.

Plan now for the future. Think strategically about the future of your e-commerce business. As your business grows, prepare to add additional promotion and product listing features. Get creative about how you cross-sell and upsell to existing customers. Explore live chat options and the creation of product videos, as well as email campaigns to nurture potential buyers.

Additional resources to get started with e-commerce:

 

Strengthen your Branded Online Presence 

When was the last time you updated your online presence? Still using a website you made seven years ago? Are you using the same logo across all of your digital and print channels, or do you still have old branding on LinkedIn or that prospect brochure from 2011? 

If you’re experiencing a lull in business, now is the time to invest in strengthening your brand - so you can hit the ground running. Start shifting time and resources to get all those things done that kept getting pushed to the back burner. 

Some examples of “quick wins” you can achieve during this period: 

Complete a Digital Marketing Audit

Complete a Digital Marketing AuditA digital marketing audit is a great way to see what’s working - and what’s not - in your digital sales and marketing ecosystem. This can be done internally with your current team or can be outsourced to an agency partner, which may give you a more objective view. 

At a minimum, in an audit, you or your agency partner should:

  • Ensure that your brand is consistent across channels. Same messaging, colors, logos, voice. 
  • Explore what your competitors are doing in this space and incorporate their successes into your strategy.  
  • Look at systems and tools for better efficiencies and ways to improve your overall results.
  • Analyze website data and optimize to improve conversion rates and SEO.
  • Explore how well social channels, email strategy, and other digital efforts are converting visitors into leads and recommend ways to improve conversions.

 

Optimize Your Website for Mobile

Optimize Your Website for MobileMobile traffic has been increasing rapidly across the web. According to the World Advertising Research Center (WARC), nearly 75% of people will be accessing the web via mobile devices by 2025. If your website has not been built as a mobile-first website, now is the time to make that investment. A mobile-first website will:

  • Use a responsive framework. Mobile-first frameworks exist that allow you to easily create a content grid structure for your content. 
  • Optimize for speed. Mobile users have little patience for slow site loading times. They require fast - preferably immediate - answers to their queries on-the-go.
  • Simplify navigation. While simplifying navigation and the overall user experience is important for all users, mobile users are especially frustrated by confusing menus that require multiple clicks to get to the content they want. Streamline and simplify how you are displaying information. 

 

Improve Conversion Rates of Existing Assets 

Improve Conversion Rates of Existing Assets Do you need to rebuild your website or just renovate it a little? Tweaking poorly performing landing pages or offers on your website is a quick and easy way to see immediate results. 

Here are some things you can do to improve conversion rates on your existing site: 

  • Revisit the number of fields in your forms. Do you really need prospective customers to fill out 37 form fields before they can download a piece of gated content? Or will first name, last name and email address be enough? The more information you ask for from a prospect, the less likely they are to complete that important first step of connecting with your business.
  • Ensure calls to action (CTAs) are on every page. Examine each page of your website to ensure that when a prospective customer gets to the end of the content, you are driving them to perform a desired action. That could be asking them to contact you, download a piece of gated content, watch a video or explore related articles. 
  • Add testimonials. Reach out to your best and most loyal customers and ask them for testimonials. Real praise from real people provides a crucial proof-point for your business. Testimonials can be incorporated throughout your site. 
  • Incorporate video. Video captures attention and can provide answers to common questions that may be keeping customers from converting. 
  • Reduce the number of options. It may seem counterintuitive, but a single, clear call to action (CTA) often performs better than giving users multiple options of what to see and do next. It turns out that many of us are paralyzed by having too many choices, and when overwhelmed, may prefer to make no choice at all than to choose “wrong.” In addition to streamlining CTA options, think carefully about how many choices you really need to provide users in your navigation menu and sub-menus.

 

Supercharge Your Social Channels

Supercharge Your Social ChannelsThis is a good time to examine how you are using your social channels. Social channels are especially busy during times of crisis and recession and people feel the need to share news, entertainment, fears, concerns, joy and successes. 

  • Ensure that your social media channels are being used regularly. When was the last time you updated Facebook? Are there two videos on your Youtube channel - that were posted four years ago? Channels that aren’t updated regularly reflect poorly on your business. The less activity, the more likely you are to seem either unengaged or simply out of business! 
  • Use it or lose it. If there is a social channel that you have but aren’t updating regularly, analyze whether or not it’s worth your time to bring up to date. Some social channels simply won’t make sense for your business, as they aren’t being used much by your target audience. Others may be vital. 

Dive into live video! Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have options for using live video to connect in real-time with customers and prospects. This is a great way to personalize your business and enhance relationships during this period.

 

Improve SEO

Improve SEOIf you chose to complete a full digital marketing audit, you most likely discovered that there are places where your website could be better optimized for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There’s no shame in this! Google updates its algorithm consistently, which means that your website needs continual SEO maintenance to keep up with these changes and ensure your website shows up in search results for potential customers and buyers. 

Those new to the SEO world can start with these simple steps: 

  • Ensure you are using relevant keywords in your metatags and image titles. These can be added/edited on the back end of your website.
  • Create content that answers questions your prospects and customers are searching for and post it to your website’s blog regularly.
  • Craft keyword-friendly URLs that include relevant keywords, not just random numbers. Dynamic URLs are often auto-generated when you create blog post content and have a format like www.example.com/7383467373. Instead, create a URL that includes the page’s relevant topic and keywords such as www.example.com/topic-title.

Additional resources for improving your branded online presence: 

>> (eBook) How Much to Budget for SEO Services

>>(Infographic) Website: To Rebuild or Renovate

>>(eBook) 10 Steps to Grow Your Business Using Social Media

>>(eBook) How Much Should I Budget for a Website Design or Redesign?

 
 

Analyze Ad Spend

If you are looking to quickly cut costs or reallocate your spending, it can be tempting to pull back on your online ad spend. The truth is that your competitors are probably panicking right now and decreasing their spend. 

But this is one of those times when “doing what everyone else is doing” will do more harm than good. When your competitors panic, it opens a door of opportunity for you! Now is your chance to get a better market share and a better price on your PPC spend. With fewer competitors vying for popular keywords related to your brand, it’s a great time to invest in digital advertising. 

During a recession or crisis, more people will be at home searching for answers to solve their unique needs. They aren’t out browsing shelves or commuting. 

So before cutting your budget, take a deep dive into what’s working (and what’s not) with your current online ad spend. Here are some tips on how to audit and reallocate your current spend.

Analyze Ad Spend

Set Goals 

How have your goals changed? Different goals require different strategic approaches. Is this the time to increase brand awareness. Are you seeking to generate more revenue through upselling to existing customers? Do you want to generate qualified sales leads? By setting your goals upfront, you will be able to chart your digital strategy in the most effective way. 

Analyze Past Performance

It might seem obvious, but whenever you are preparing a new digital ad strategy, it’s vital to examine past performance. Just as importantly, understand that your audience’s buying behavior may have changed during a crisis or downturn. Analyze your data to determine which channels, messages and keywords gave you the results you wanted. Strategize ways that you can improve upon those methods or create A/B tests to start optimizing results. 

Invest in Success, Not Cost

It can be tempting to analyze ad spend and simply cut the ads that cost the most. But it’s far more important to look at the ROI of the ad spend. Invest in the keywords that are bringing in the most qualified leads or the traffic performing the action you have stated in your goals. Similarly, if your social media channels are bringing in more qualified leads than PPC ads, start allocating more spend to social. 

Strategize Content

The success of many online businesses is driven by content. Great content answers questions that your target audience is looking for and provides them with value. It positions you as a thought leader in your space and - if done well and regularly - can even enhance how your website ranks in search results. Also, be sure to think outside text-only ads and postings. Many ads today leverage video, GIFs, infographics and more to supercharge results. 

Measure and Adjust

Your audience’s preferences and behaviors are changing all the time - and so should your digital ad spend. New ad types on a variety of different digital platforms are being enabled all the time, and younger audiences, in particular, are quick to shift their attention from platform to platform. Keep up with where your audience is spending its time, and what types of content are performing best there.

Additional resources for improving your branded online presence:

>>(eBook) How Much Should You Be Spending On Google Ads & PPC?

>> (Expert Article) How to Maximize Paid Media as a Small Business on a Small Budget

 

Virtualize Your Sales Process

Most sales teams rely on in-person meetings, trade shows and handselling opportunities to bring in new leads and close deals. Is your team prepared to sell in the absence of these face-to-face interactions? 

If you haven’t yet, start training your sales team on how to use personalized video, webinars, email and LinkedIn to jumpstart their selling opportunities. Invest the time they used to spend doing meetings, events and tradeshows into teaching them how to optimize their LinkedIn profiles and leverage video and other virtual prospecting and engagement tools. 

First, Identify Which Social Channels Your Customers Prefer

First, Identify Which Social Channels Your Customers PreferTo help with your prospecting efforts, start by identifying your target buyer and building a buyer persona that your sales team can use. 

You can develop these personas by taking a close look at your current clients. What job titles do they have? What are their common pain points? How do they research before they buy? Most important, which social media channel do they use the most? If you’re not sure, ask!  

 

Optimize Company Pages and Personal Sales Team Pages

Optimize Company Pages and Personal Sales Team PagesNext, optimize your company page and personal sales team pages on the targeted social media channel(s) so that they are complete, up-to-date and deliver answers that your target buyer is looking for. 

LinkedIn is an especially effective channel for many B2B businesses. It’s vital that personal sales pages on LinkedIn include professional, updated profile photos and have all fields complete. Many buyers are wary of engaging with sales profiles that are unprofessional or incomplete.

 

Start Social Selling!

Start Social Selling!What is social selling? It’s all about creating relationships! Social selling helps you form relationships with current and potential buyers by engaging with them on social media. 

Selling this way enables you to get to know your target buyer in greater depth and thus provide more true value and personalized service. To achieve this, your team will need to check their profile and company pages every day. Share your knowledge by posting helpful articles on your page and commenting on posts and insights from your connections.

Remember, the key to social selling is to focus on relationship building first - sales second. If you come across as too salesy, prospective customers will flee like lemmings. Only share your products or services if there is an offering or value that your audience can immediately appreciate. As with any relationships, don’t spend all your time talking about yourself! Relationships are about sharing information; about give and take.  

Virtually Nurture Existing Leads

Virtually Nurture Existing LeadsWhether you are a manufacturing company that can no longer provide a plant tour or a senior living community struggling with what to do in the absence of prospective resident tours, it’s time to take a look at ways to virtually nurture the leads you have in the pipeline now.

Here are some ways that you can virtually nurture current leads: 

  • Schedule an online lunch. Answer questions in a one-on-one Zoom meeting; entice prospects with a $25 gift card to a great local restaurant.
  • Create Facebook live events. Walk your leads and prospects through your manufacturing space or community.
  • Send video emails of product demonstrations or do a fun product unboxing.
  • Continue to stay in communication with leads in your pipeline. Make a personalized video using a tool like Soapbox to keep that personal connection. 
  • Schedule webinars about topics of interest with leads and prospects. Be sure to record these and utilize them on your website and as sales tools for your team.
  • Create video FAQs that sales can share with prospects before a call. These will both save your sales team time and further qualify your lead. 

Additional resources for virtual prospecting and lead nurturing: 

>>(Webinar) Exceed Your Sales Quotes in a New Virtual Era

>> (eBook) How to Win B2B Sales in the Digital Age

 
 
 

Invest in Customer Retention

As the world changes around us, so do our behaviors. Now is the perfect time to invest in retaining your current customers by keeping tabs on their changing behavior. 

We all know that it’s more expensive to get new leads than it is to upsell existing customers. So spend time looking for ways that you can surprise and delight your customers and provide additional value. 

Be a hero to your customers by: 

  • Crafting personalized offers just for them
  • Creating exclusive online events for your most loyal customers
  • Developing personalized videos from your sales or leadership team that can be shared via email or social media with your best customers (especially if they are influencers!)

Evaluate Customer Service

Evaluate what areas of your customer service process can be improved to keep customers happy, such as creating instructional videos or other resources that offer answers to common questions (and save customers time on the phone!). 

How can you be creative with your phone or onsite support? Does your automated messaging or phone tree need to be updated? 

Also, consider investing this time in additional training for your customer service staff. If your customer service team is happy, they will, in turn, make your customers happy! 

Adapt to New Buyer Behaviors 

The last thing you want to do right now is decrease your sales and marketing budget! While your competitors are panicking, you want to be pivoting

Don’t be afraid to shift your strategy based on current events, but do so mindfully. Your buyer is thinking differently during a recession or crisis than they are when everything is looking up. Take the time to invest in surveys, focus groups and other forms of research to evaluate how your buyers’ behaviors are changing. This data will help inform how your organization can shift to better serve them.   

When you have completed this deep dive, be sure to update your buyer personas to reflect this new normal!

Additional resources for investing in customer retention:

 
 

Putting it All Together

Tough times don’t last forever.  While it can feel overwhelming to navigate in a rapidly-changing world, the truth is that the world is changing all the time. Life is change. Every boom is followed by a bust. And on the other side of a bust? Another Golden Age. 

The good news is that you can take these steps right now and improve not only your business’s survival today - but your growth in the near future and beyond. 

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