Kelly O’Neil is a multi-award winning profit strategist and brand-marketing expert and CEO of Innovate Media Services.
If you’re starting to see signs that the struggling economy is affecting your business, now is the time to implement strategies that will ensure you not only survive but thrive in an economic downturn. While few entrepreneurs look forward to an economic slowdown, some recognize the opportunity to be found in recessionary times.
Many of my clients came out of the Great Recession of 2007-2009 stronger and more profitable than when they entered it, and because many of their competitors had folded, they were in an ideal position to take advantage of the rebounding economy once the recession was over. How did they accomplish this? By being strategic in everything they did. While every business needs to take multiple factors into account when developing a strategic plan, there are three top strategies that I suggest service-based businesses consider when gearing up for an economic decline.
1. Focus on affluent clientele.
The No. 1 surefire way to recession-proof your business is to attract and retain affluent clientele. If you’re currently primarily targeting the middle class, now is the time to set your sights much higher.
Why target the millionaire market? Two reasons come to mind:
Millionaires aren’t as hard hit by a recession and therefore typically see recessions as times of opportunity. They tend to invest more strategically during a recession because they know the payoff will be more substantial in the long run. This mindset can benefit your business incredibly if you learn how to tap into it.
Worldwide, the number of millionaires has increased by 155% since the Great Recession of 2008. The numbers are in your favor when you target your marketing efforts to the wealthy. Conversely, the wealth gap between the upper and middle class continues to widen. If this recession gets into full swing, the bottom half of your client pool could drop off, leaving you scrambling for solutions.
Now is the time to get proactive and target the clients that will carry you through a recession and into the upper echelon of your industry, but how do you reach and engage the elite audience your business needs?
2. Position yourself as a market of one.
Positioning is everything. The very first move I make with every single one of my clients is to position them well in the market. Proper positioning will render your competition irrelevant and communicate the value you provide to potential affluent clients.
If you don’t stand out in your niche, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate what strategies you can implement to cut through the noise. The affluent are accustomed to a high level of professionalism and expertise in the people they do business with. If your branding isn’t communicating that you are the authority in your sphere, it’s going to be extremely difficult to stand out enough to generate the revenue you need to survive in a shrinking market.
3. Be smart about strategy.
A solid strategy is the difference between those who thrive during a recession and those who don’t. A good strategy will help you focus on what’s essential in your business so you’re not wasting your time, money and energy on things that don’t move you forward. Strategy goes much further than implementing business tactics. A strategy is a road map to your desired outcome in business. Taking action without a strategy in place is an exercise in futility, so it’s essential to gain clarity on your goals before you start making moves. In recessionary times, those with a strong strategy will float to the top and claim much of the market share. Those who don’t have a strong strategy will be weeded out.
Strategy squashes fear.
Everyone is worried about the recession, but I like to think of worrying like a rocking chair: You spend a bunch of energy and end up nowhere. A recession doesn’t have to mean devastation for your business if you prepare. Those who don’t get their strategy in place will suffer the consequences, but it’s never too late to get organized!
As we embark upon what is sure to be challenging economic times, ask yourself the following questions:
• Are you marketing to people who can afford your services?
• What have you done to differentiate your company in a crowded space?
• Are you standing out in your market? If not, how can you cut through the noise?
• Do you have a clearly defined strategy that will carry you through the recession?
If you don’t have solid answers to these questions, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and make adjustments.
With so much uncertainty in the world, one universal truth rings true: Strategy squashes fear. When you are strategic and have clearly defined goals, you can rest easy knowing you’ve set yourself up for success whether the economy is boom or bust.
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