How To Get Innovative In An Economic Downturn

I don’t need to remind companies that consumers are rankled. That’s not my word, that’s the word marketing experts have used to describe the selling environment companies are facing during this season of economic bailout. So, what’s the advice? How do companies market effectively?

They innovate.

1. Be prepared to answer more questions about what kind of company you are. Customers want to know if you pay your upper management exorbitant amounts (CEOs cashing out just before their left-behind companies are bailed out by taxpayers may be one of those rankling issues, yes?), what you do to help the environment, if you give back to the community, and what kind of guarantee your product or service offers.

2. Get really good at your customer service. If you can’t back up what you promise, this consumer environment will not be impressed (don’t believe me; how have your sales been in the past two weeks?). Customers are fickle, and right now, they have the power to make or break you. Focus on making your customers happy and make them your number one focus. Many companies are finding out that business life without customers is bleak.

3. Think about how to make your product or service so amazing that people will freaking love it. Check out our previous post on Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands, and get really good at making your product or service irresistible. How? Ask your current customers. Why do they love you? Why do they continue to buy no matter what the economy looks like? A lot of information can be had by asking who already loves you.

4. Look at yourself from your customers’ perspective. It’s tough to really get their nuanced ways, but you’ve got to. Don’t you sit and think "if only that company knew how that commercial or that packaging looked to the rest of us" at least a couple of times during a busy day? It could be an inept fast food server or a commercial that assaults our intelligence. This is how your marketing and products may look to your customers. While you can’t keep everyone happy, it doesn’t hurt to take a step back and walk a bit in your key market’s shoes.

5. Be honest with yourself. Are you willing to go the extra mile for your customers? If not, your customers will be able to tell. If you really aren’t sure about the product and are just trying it, that message will echo out well beyond your reach. You don’t have to be gung ho about every product, but if you’re not sure you can keep up with the expectations of your customers, you may need to do some soul-searching.

While these ideas may seem simple and kind of no-brainers, even implementation of one may make the difference between a good season and a true economic slowdown.