Putting aside whether we're actually in a recession, or not, I think it's safe to say that the "R" word is on everyone's mind.
Given that I'm in sales, and I haven't had anyone tell me that "I'm not buying because I can't get a bank to give me a new credit card." Or "I'm not buying because I don't think anyone will buy my services in this economy - no matter how many leads I generate," I think it's probably safe to say that the economy is not affecting many of us.
At the top, the economy is certainly showing signs of struggling - with bank failures, proportionally higher job losses, state budget shortfalls, etc. And this could certainly trickle down. Coincidence or not, we all are certainly paying more for food, gas and oil. So, this post is not meant to belittle hardships others are facing.
But, I do believe that we can get ourselves out of this mess by basically stepping on the gas pedal of innovation and doubling down on our respective career and businesses' growth strategies. And not doing anything or retreating from our strategies because we "fear" it could get worse, would be disastrous for each of us individually, the businesses we manage and the economy collectively.
One of the areas where many companies are innovating is their internet marketing strategy. "R" word or not, many companies are investing significantly in inbound marketing strategies . They are publishing their way into thought leadership positions . They are networking their way into sales opportunities . They are redesigning their websites as lead capture machines and leveraging analytics technologies to improve sales efficiencies . These companies are innovating their sales and marketing processes and most importantly, finding ways that sales and marketing can work together to grow their business quicker and more profitably.
Here's why the "R Word" shouldn't stop you from making decisions about your internet marketing strategy:
- Be Where People are Looking. Inbound vs. Outbound. The internet is primarily an "inbound" marketing channel where you "pull" prospects to you, by being where they are looking for your solution. The internet can deliver sales ready leads . If they are looking for your solution, your sales cycle will naturally be shorter.
Spend Time. Not Money.
Almost all internet marketing strategies require more of your time and less of your money compared to traditional marketing and advertising solutions.
- Everything is Measurable. You can test everything. Some people get a little carried away with measuring every move. Not every connection on a social network, every email blast you send or every blog post you write, etc is going to turn into business. But, when your online marketing activities turn into leads, opportunities and sales, you will know exactly what activity to do again.
- Your Competitors are Shifting Their Spending . According to eMarketer, more will be spent on online marketing and shifted from traditional marketing approaches as a result of the "R" word . ( IAB too .) Can you afford not to be where your competitors are?
- Constant Improvement . If you're doing the same thing you did to advertise and market your business as you did 25 years ago, you have a problem. Your problem is not that you're still wearing bell-bottomed nylon suits. It's that you probably don't know what's working and what's not working. (See #3 above.) Measurability has a really interesting side effect. Since you can now measure things, you can now improve. I'm not talking about tweaking colors and copy. I'm talking about walking into the CFOs office and showing how you delivered more opportunities to the sales team on a smaller budget.
- Prepare for the future. It's hard to argue with the statement that the " fundamentals of our economy are strong ". Ok, it isn't hard to argue with that. But, much more experienced marketers than I have proven that investing in down times is the surest way to capitalize on good times :
When times are tough it is time to invest, not cut. This comes from years of research dating back to Ogilvy's Alex Biel and Millward Brown interaction surveys. All show that, if we cut marketing during such times, the impact is damaging and it can take you longer to get back to where you were.Of course, this is easy to say, but harder to do. The Pavlovian reaction is to cut, but the media industry can learn from someone like Rupert Murdoch, who historically has never done that. You'll see him investing in editorial and products at a time when other people are throwing the baby out with the bath water. The talk to do ratio is high, the doing is low.
If anything, when inbound marketing is done right, the web turns your marketing department into a publishing group, not that much different than Murdoch's empire.
Are you investing like Murdoch historically does?
Like Warren Buffet
? Or cutting back?
What are you doing differently in your sales and marketing processes in order to grow your business - despite this mess?
PS. As a bonus, here's some great discussion on how to handle the "R Word" objection in the sales process .