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How to thrive in a downturn (and smash your competitors)

Author:

Victoria Usher

Published On:

November 7, 2022

Published In:

PR and marketing | Uncategorized

How to thrive in a downturn (and smash your competitors)

IF YOU ONLY HAVE 30 SECONDS: 

 Businesses and individuals aren’t making maximum use of the world’s best B2B marketing platform. It delivers lower funnel leads, builds your profile, and connects you with reporters.

If you’re not harnessing it, you need to change this now. 

PR – specifically thought leadership – is the gateway to gaining ground with key audiences, helping to grow your reputation and deliver leads in a downturn. There is a reason leading businesses and brands prioritise this activity over other marketing functions. 

Read on to find out more. 

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I’ve seen crises of every size, shape, and form.

From career-ending crisis management situations and fatal accidents at work, to articulating a CEO’s confused business vision into a sharp, acquisition-ready proposition.

We’re heading for a financial downturn. For business leaders hoping – post Brexit and Covid – for sustained growth and a settled return to business as usual, hopes are dashed.

I’ve spent the last few weeks talking to business leaders about how to be recession ready. Preparation now is essential so that when the time comes, they will be in a position to benefit from hockey-stick growth as the sector improves. As most of our clients did in 2020.

So what advice am I giving companies and leaders to improve their performance during economic instability?

There is plenty.

A carefully crafted PR and marketing strategy will help to ensure your business stays top of mind. Clients will buy your services versus your competitors. It will bolster your strong reputation and public image, creating trust in your services.

I’ve created some take-home pointers that any business can utilise to get themselves match-fit for what is coming down the line. And to smash their competitors (the best bit about our job!).

Are you optimising the world’s best B2B marketing tool?

Are you using LinkedIn? I love it. Continue to love it. Can’t get enough of it.

Used by around 830M people worldwide, LinkedIn is THE biggest platform for the B2B community. But with only around 1% of people posting content, there is huge potential for individuals and businesses who take the time to determine what drives real engagement on LinkedIn.

Leveraging the full power of this platform takes more than blasting out updates for the sake of being visible. You’ll need to understand – really understand – what the opportunities are, how its algorithm works, and how you can make the most of both.

I give lots of advice on how to use LinkedIn optimally because it’s so closely connected to your brand and it’s an excellent way to win business.

LinkedIn is part of your online personal brand. Your LinkedIn audience are your clients. Your key stakeholders. Reporters. Your current and future employees. They are the people you want to engage and influence. Are you talking to them regularly about the information they need and want to hear?

Have you looked at your profile on LinkedIn recently? This is the first piece of information that hits the eyeballs of people that are looking for insight, advice, connections. When was the last time you reviewed it with fresh eyes? It sounds basic. But I bet you haven’t.

Look to other profiles that appeal to you. The ones that stand out, post quality content regularly and have a high number of followers. Their profile will be succinct. It will not list every skill and company they’ve worked for – only the ones that matter most. And this information will be in the first sentence.

Take a look at your profile now. Can you improve it. Hone it. Make it more succinct? Can you write an elevator sentence that describes you and your skills in just a few words? Why not ask for a couple of your connections or colleagues for constructive feedback?

Get your house in order is a basic but important step one. Ask for input on your profile now.

Invest: Don’t pull back, push forward 

Businesses that outperform competitors consider long term growth. Their shrewd leaders are looking 6, 12, 18 months down the line. Not just the next one or two quarters. Most crucially, these leaders can see the scope for sustained success and ride through the downturn.

Data underscores the value of this approach time and time and time again. This recent article from the IPA, covering 40 years of marketing data, summarises the findings beautifully. As the headline goes: ‘Come back in a year and tell us if cutting your budget was a good idea’. 

It won’t be.

If our own data is anything to go by, companies learnt a hard lesson during Covid. Cutting back on marketing (and recruitment) meant they were in a worse position once the market picked up 6 months later. And they were smashed by competitors.

There is vast opportunity for those willing to keep pushing forward in volatile market conditions. PR and marketing agencies such as GingerMay are often the canary in the mine when it comes to economic shocks. While among the first affected, they also benefit early when the risk passes.

As more businesses recognise the need for ongoing action, we’re seeing no effect from the economic situation.

Moving into Q4, only 3% of GingerMay’s client roster cut back on marketing spend and we are still at 100% capacity. Smart-thinking businesses are continuing to invest and see enormous potential in the market.

If you’re thinking of cutting your marketing and PR spend, why not challenge your creative, PR and marketing agency. How do they think you should be using the budget?

Are there more effective ways to create lower-funnel opportunities that will deliver short-term business gains along with driving lasting benefits via long-term investment in reputation building and enhancing exposure across the right audiences.

They should be able to respond with data-driven examples and provide reassuring proof  that this is one of the best investments you can make in a downturn. Ask them today. And if you don’t ask them – ask me.