Director, Content Marketing
Forget about Wall Street … flames of panic are scorching through Main Street. According to Forbes, small business owners' negative sentiments are extremely high. Between interest and mortgage rates, inflation and continued mumblings of supply-chain shortages, the buzz among local and small business owners feels nothing short of catastrophic.
The thing is, people are still spending money. They’re supporting local, searching for community, looking for creative solutions, and gravitating towards some light amidst the economic storm clouds. Our message to you? Take a breath. Let’s quell the panic on Main Street. Tighten up. Keep your dream alive.
“When you’re paralyzed with fear, you tend to be less creative.” –Dennis Fois, Copper CEO
Dennis reminds us that wealth is born in recession; “it’s created at the bottom, not at the peak. Just take a look at 150 years of trading and you’ll see that trend.” He believes that perpetuating the cycle of doom and gloom will only hinder business and innovation. And on the flip side of the pessimistic herd mentality that accompanies any recession comes less competition, more chances to find success and more customers who want to show their loyalty to local, optimistic businesses who take care of them and work to give them fair prices. Thriving, not just surviving, right now... will take some resilience and execution improvements. Before the recession, “businesses could afford to be sloppy. It’s not an option anymore,” Dennis adds, because there’s no denying that the proverbial phones are no longer ringing off the hook.
So while many small businesses are scaling back expansion plans, reducing workforce, downsizing office spaces, and cutting services, you can take some other specific steps to stay ahead and keep the ship upright. It comes down to rigor, visibility and control — and making your existing customer base happy. They’re the real key to your success, and exploring the answers to the following three questions can help you secure their loyalty:
- Who are my customers, right now?
- What kinds of communications do I share with them?
- What was our last communication?
When you’ve taken the time to examine those answers, it’s time to uplevel in these areas:
1) Get to know your customers — and invest in your relationships with them
We recently published this blog post on customer segmentation that outlines how to research and analyze your audience, and this 4-step process for customer research, which includes building accurate buyer personas. Once you dig into the psychology of your different types of loyal customers, you can set up the right, authentic campaigns and approaches to keep in touch with them in ways that truly resonate. Don’t forget: You’ve likely already sewn the seeds of success when the economy flourished and customers were knocking your door down. Farm that base for information and insights. Be good to them and you’ll keep them coming back.
2) Build your brand and clarify your message
Identifying your key customer personas isn’t the only exercise in psychology you’ll need to engage in to improve your business and better your chances of success in the tempest. Examine your own business identity; who are you and exactly who are you to your customers? Cater to the relationship between who your customers are and who you are to them. Ensure that your marketing, messaging — even your brand name — truly evokes your identity and the nature of that relationship. You’ll develop trust, familiarity and intimacy with your customers, which will go a long way in creating a targeted and proactive plan to recession-proof your biz.
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3) Know your numbers and stay on top of your cash flow to effectively plan for the future
82% of businesses fail because of cash flow problems, according to this study. And uncertain times make mitigating these issues nonnegotiable. Reporting accurately, managing invoices and receivables promptly, and exercising caution around debt or inventory management processes becomes critical now.
4) Get organized
Tightening up and running your business more efficiently comes down to more than knowing your numbers. We’ve established that getting to know your current customers and nurturing them makes managing opportunities rather than deals your insurance policy right now, but your customer list won’t do you any good until you get organized around keeping track of them. Visibility into and management of your contacts, opportunities, team activities and all of your business communications will help you make the right moves at the right times so you can avoid scrambling to keep afloat any time the economic you-know-what hits the fan. We can no longer afford sloppiness like we once could.
Keep putting relationships first
While small businesses rush to shrink their spend, CRM can provide you with a mission-critical tool especially during this around-the-corner recession. Particularly a CRM system like Copper that’s affordable, simple to use, easy to implement, flexible and tailored specifically to a small business’ needs — so you can keep building relationships.
Loyal customers will stand by you in difficult times. Be a creative solution, grab the opportunity to make your optimism infectious and to provide joy in the face of worry. Dream big and your customers will continue to orbit around you rather than a nameless, faceless conglomerate.
Check back for our upcoming blog post sharing actionable tips for recession-proofing your small business.