Don’t Panic. The earth will keep spinning on its axis and marketers of all stripes will need to communicate and persuade customers and prospects. Focus on the meat-and-potatoes issues in your business. Invest extra time and energy to find new ways to conceive, craft and transmit messages that better differentiate and more clearly communicate the value and the urgency of your brand.
Don’t Get Distracted. The economy is in a free fall. Most of us hope Obama knows more than we do. We pray that he and all those new appointees have a really good plan. He might. But whatever he’s got won’t make things better on January 22nd. So focus on the stuff you can affect. Ignore things you have no control over. We all have to assume an AA mentality by grasping the notion that most things are out of our control so we have to use our time and energy wisely to impact the handful of things we actually can exert control over; mostly ourselves. Take a short term focus. Cover each month’s bills. Take one step forward after the next. Try to ignore the daily doomsday screeching and then endless warnings that the sky is falling down.
Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow. Great relationships are forged in adversity. Now is the time to stick close to your clients and your people. Mine and harness the energy, the goodwill, the advocacy, the insights and the and ideas that often go uncollected or unexploited during the normal course of business. Invest in each other. Hold up your value proposition to a 360 SWOT analysis. Find new and better ways to reach out your customers.
Don’t Ignore Your Network. Social networking demonstrates that we are linked together. We are navigating this life together. So leverage your connections. Reach out to others. Ask questions, share ideas and share resources. The whole is stronger than the sum of the parts, so leverage the whole. Remember that the value of a network expands exponentially with use. An unused network degrades rapidly.
Don’t Bring Coupons to a Party. Social media is evolving, emerging and morphing everyday. You wouldn’t come to a party at my house and pass out coupons. We’d think you were rude and gross. Facebook, MySpace and others are the digital online equivalents of that party. Understand the milieu and enter cautiously recognizing that the brand is NOT in control, consumers are. Take your cues from them and respect their sensibilities.
Don’t Stop Experimenting. We are in the “wild west” phase of social, mobile and online video media. There are no ideas that are too crazy especially since our technologists are inventing, extending and mashing up new things daily. The recession makes these platforms and the creative content to fuel them affordable and measurable. So get below your competitor’s radar and play around with images, messages and media. Who knows maybe your nutty idea will become the new “best practices”?
Don’t Ignore Mobile Media. The new generation of Blackberries and the iPhone are important steps on the evolutionary path toward a single multi-purpose device that combines, integrates, synchronizes and aggregates computers, the Internet, telephony, credit and debit cards, digital photography, Swiss Army knives and who knows what else. And while it might take a few years for the number of daily users to reach hundreds of millions, this phenomenon will be upon us before you can say “Tim Berners Lee.” That means now is the time to get familiar with mobile media. Begin thinking about the idea of constant access to the Net and constant consumer motion and communication. This development will forever change they way we stimulate brand awareness, preference and purchase and change shopping expectations and behavior in ways we can’t yet predict..
Don’t Write Off Direct Marketing. When marketing money gets tight, bean counters rule. Direct marketing continues to enjoy great public acceptance, strong ROI, measurability and an under-exposed degree of creativity and inventiveness. Direct mail, DRTV, telemarketing and other DM tactics are proven result-getters which can be pulsed or turned off and on at will. Expect smart marketers to default to direct marketing and look for smart DM players to do well in hard times.
Don’t Forget to Measure What Matters. Most marketing is assessed two ways. We measure effectiveness in returning profitable business results and we count efficiency in terms of the value received compared to the cost, usually expressed in some form of ROI calculation. There are millions of other distracting and partially relevant things to count, sort and calculate. But in a recession focus on two simple questions; “How much profitable new business did this drive?” and “Was it worth it?”
Don’t Abandon Customer Satisfaction. Acquiring new customers costs a multiple of delighting and retaining existing ones. In tough times you need the efficiency of happy customers referring their friends. Focus on customer service. Talk to customers. Listen to them too. Solicit their ideas and feedback. Institute loyalty and reward programs. Do whatever you can to encourage them to buy more. Emphasize customer service and include the voice of your customer in your product and marketing plans.