Skip to Main Content

How to Market in a Downturn

Dear Agencies, Printers, Mail-houses, and Marketing Firms,
During these trying times, BB Direct is here and ready to work for you. While each business is different, we would love the opportunity to talk with you about ways to help your business best deliver the right message to your existing customers and potential prospects. The marketing landscape has changed and we need to adjust our thinking to help our agency clients through these changing times.
It’s vital that you stay connected with your existing customers and potential prospects. Whether a simple email, a phone call, or a postcard that reaches your contact at those businesses, you should talk with your clients, empathize with their struggles, and learn how each of them plans to weather this difficult time. Some may surprise you with their ingenuity and ability to adapt to changing times.
From an article, written in the Harvard Business Review, titled, How to Market in a Downturn, timely advise was provided to help businesses better understand and adapt to the changing landscape. The suggestions were drawn from an extensive study of how many businesses have thrived over time, through several market downturns. Below are the some of the highlights:
Think of your customers as falling into four groups:
This segment feels most vulnerable and hardest hit financially. They reduce all spending by eliminating, postponing, decreasing, or substituting purchases. Not all in this category are of the lower-income. Often there are anxious higher-income consumers that will also, essentially, “slam on the brakes” if health or income circumstances change for the worse.
This segment tends to be resilient and optimistic about the long term. But they are less confident about the short-term or their ability to maintain their standard of living. They economize in all areas, though less aggressive than the “Slam-On-The-Brakes” segment.
Comfortably Well-Off
This consumer segment feels secure about their ability to ride out the current and future economic challenges. They consume at near-prerecession levels, though now they tend to be a little more selective about their purchases. This segment consists of primarily the people in the top 5% of the income bracket. It also includes those less wealthy but they still feel confident about the stability of their finances.
Live for Today
This last segment of the consumer population carries on as usual and are unconcerned about their savings. They may extend their timetables for making major purchases, but for the most part, live as though everything is fine. Typically urban and younger, they are more likely to rent than own. They spend on experiences rather than on stuff. They’re unlikely to change their consumption behavior unless they become unemployed.
As an agency, your clients may have a variety of customer types, or just one. And your clients may sell one product, or a variety. Regardless, all consumers prioritize consumption by sorting these products and services into 4 categories.
Essentials are necessary for survival or perceived as central to well-being.
Treats are indulgences whose immediate purchase is considered justifiable.
Postponables are needed or desired items whose purchase can be reasonably put off.
Expendables are perceived as unnecessary or unjustifiable.
All businesses should re-evaluate their list of customers, segment them into the four customer groups, to better understand how they prioritize their products and services. This is something BB Direct would like to help you do for your customers.
All consumers view consumer products and services as described above. Whether existing customers or new prospects, smart marketers need to view their products and services in light of this prioritization. The article referenced on this topic can be found by clicking, “How to Market in a Downturn”. It goes into greater detail on how to address each of these consumers and how each prioritize products and services.
How do consumers re-define value for their products and services?
A good question for all businesses to ask is, “How do consumers re-define value for their products and services”.  Knowing more about both your existing customers, whether it’s appending demographic information to a customer list or prospect universe will help them weather this difficult time.
We at BB Direct are open for business and want to help you. We hope that you all stay safe and healthy. Let’s keep in touch, from a distance, and work together to maintain and grow our businesses.