If a Recession is Coming Soon, We Have to Prepare

The data is piling up. Nobody says we’re headed for a recession definitively because no one really wants to be wrong. But look at this from Brookings. Peek at these points in Newsweek. Some experts have a guess on timing, but that one reads a bit too political for me (economies aren’t exactly subject to political pressure as much as people like to claim their influence over them). I don’t know enough about this, so I look at what investors are saying.

When I think of recessions, I think about customer acquisition and retention.

The way through a recession is to service your existing customers such that they want to stay firmly in place, and this is also an opportunity to acquire new customers who feel poorly treated by your competitors. To get there, we have to think about all this from the buyer’s perspective. Remember, we’re all in the same recession. You know how you’re looking around at which expenses to trim? So are the people who pay you. You’re their expenses.

Acquisition efforts need to shift towards efforts to show your company’s ability to handle clients/customers with care and personalization. One of the biggest recurring complaints in business is that people feel like a number. This is B2B, B2C – it’s universal. We’re sick of fitting in. We want to go somewhere that we feel like we belong.

In these times, the “little guy” customer feels lost in the shuffle while dealing with your competitor, so show them how you’ll treat them like a VIP. Be clear about it. Give them tangible details like “We give you one number to call and text-message-simple service interactions.”

Retention becomes about helping your customers weather the same storm you’re going through. This can take many forms. If you’re doing net-30 payment terms, can you switch to net 45 or 60 for the next six months or so? Can you work with the clients through education efforts to get more out of the product or service you’ve sold them? Can you help them “stretch out” what you’ve sold to serve them longer? (Like hamburger helper for business.)

These are just a few strategies. In lots of cases – very many – it’s as simple as improving communication, outreach, and being more visible. I know that sometimes the feeling is that if you “lay low” people will forget about you and skip over you in the chopping process, but that’s not a great plan (in my not-at-all-humble opinion). When the chips are down, we remember the allies who got us through the rough months.

I’m working with companies on this and other acquisition/retention issues right now. I’ve got slots for a few clients, so if you want me to kick the tires on what you’ve got going on and make some informed recommendations and build a few plans out for you, just get in touch. I’m here to help!

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