05/10/09

Create a Marketing Plan for the Economic Recovery Now

More and more indicators are pointing to an economic recovery. That means marketers must look past their recession strategy and begin planning their recovery marketing strategy.
I have witnessed businesses cutting overhead, cutting jobs and salaries, closing branches, cutting marginal lines and doing all the things necessary to survive. Most have already done just about everything they can do, and are managing to struggle through.
Finally, Saturday’s Oregonian reported: “Battered economy looking a bit better”. By the way, while some of the indicators they reported were recent, I think evidence existed three or four weeks ago, and the newspaper is woefully behind in its reporting. Current unemployment figures are better than expected, the bank stress test showed that banks are in better shape than experts were expecting, the Dow has been up 8 weeks out of the past 9, and the NASDAQ has been up 9 straight weeks.
So, with these positive signs, it becomes clear that sharp marketers who recognize the importance of staying in front of trends must be planning how to address the change now.
Here are seven recommendations for marketers looking to plan ahead, made in a recent article by John Quelch, a professor at Harvard Business School.
1. FOCUS ON HIGH POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS
Identify those who may have been putting off the buying decision and speak to them first.
2. DON’T ASSUME A RETURN TO NORMAL
This long, deep recession is more likely to permanently change consumer attitudes and behaviors. Be sure to listen and watch carefully the signals they are sending you.
3. ASSESS TARGET CUSTOMER TRUST
Companies, especially financial companies, have taken a beating in the past several months. Add services and support to boost your trust with customers.
4. STAY FOCUSED ON COST
This long recession has created a downward pressure on prices that will not go away with the recovery.
5. KNOW YOUR LEAD INDICATORS
What do you notice that precedes or validates your customer behaviors? Identify those and pay attention to them.
6. DEVELOP SCENARIOS
Since there is no way for you to know exactly what will happen or when, you must be prepared to adjust your marketing to fluctuations of surprisingly robust sales and short periods of reversal.
7. DON’T WAIT FOR PERMISSION
Start planning now. Don’t wait for an official announcement that the recession is over. By that time, you will be behind your competitors.