In August, I wrote a blog about the reasons why you shouldn’t cut your marketing budget during a recession. Eight months later, as we start to hear predictions of a return to economic growth in 2017, I sat down with Josh Ronald from Stawowski McGill, a team of business and financial advisors who collaborate with business owners to bring the clarity, confidence, and control required to take their business to the next level. We discussed what companies should now be doing to refine their business and marketing strategies to ensure they are aligned with the new economy once it arrives.
“As we’re seeing in Calgary, economic cycles come and go, so companies should have a plan in place for the recovery,” says Josh. “Marketing is often a pretty big line item – especially for smaller businesses – and over the last couple of years, a lot of our clients came to us and asked if they should cut their marketing budget. The easy thing to tell them is to spend nothing because marketing is also an optional line item, but that’s simply not good advice. The trick is getting them to understand what has worked best in the past and why, and to continue with that strategy through the recession.”
According to Josh, companies that continued to invest in their marketing over the past two years are going to be in a much better position than their competitors as the economy starts to recover.
“The challenge for businesses in Calgary now is preparing for the post-recession environment. They need to re-examine their strategic plans and core skills, and implement a plan that is going to deliver the superior value which will be expected by their clients.”
Here are the key steps businesses should take to refine their marketing strategies so they are aligned with the new economy:
Communicate your brand value
Now that your target audience is able to increase their spend, it’s important to remind them why you’re their best choice. It’s no longer a decision based on cost, it’s based on the value you bring. “Remind your client why they chose you in the first place,” says Josh. Your audience needs to be reminded that your company still offers the best solution.
During a recession, marketing messages tend to focus on cost-reduction. As we see a return to economic growth, evolve your marketing message away from financial concerns and toward clients’ core business pain points and how your company can support long-term sustainability. Take the time to talk to your clients to understand shifting priorities and goals. How has their business changed through the recession? This will help you to position yourself as a partner for growth and align your key messaging with the needs of your clients.
Chase emerging growth opportunities
Opportunities for corporate growth are starting to appear, with companies like Cenovus looking to boost spending in 2017 by 24%, and others listed on Alberta’s Fast Growth 50 reporting revenue growth of up to 625%. Businesses need to spend time understanding how their industry and their clients’ behaviour may have changed during the recession to ensure their messages are aligned with the needs of potentially new industry segments. Be lean, be smart.
The bottom line
Alberta’s economic climate is well-known to be cyclical, and as we start to witness another recovery, it is essential that companies are prepared with marketing strategies that allow them to respond to new growth opportunities. A proper marketing strategy and plan allows you to be proactive with your marketing efforts. If you are still being reactive, it is going to cost you in the end.
Josh Ronald is the go-to guy for small businesses looking to achieve big results. He works closely with clients to build trusted, ongoing relationships, learning about both their professional and personal goals. Josh collaborates with each client to determine the path that will lead to success and believes in celebrating every accomplishment (not to mention enjoying a laugh or two along the way). For more information, contact email@example.com or 403.229.0411.