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5 Steps for Recalibrating Your Marketing for a Double Dip Recession

05/24/2011 12:53 pm ET | Updated Jul 24, 2011

THE PROBLEM: Some economists warn that the global economy could slip back into recession at some point during 2011, a prospect that has marketers who barely survived the last recession deeply concerned.

THE SOLUTION: Implement 5 key strategies for winning more repeat orders and gaining market share during the next economic slowdown.

Consumers now expect more for every dollar spent, they expect to be listened to and they are empowered by online and social media vehicles to voice their expectations. Therefore, marketing strategies and messaging which have not been recalibrated within the past 24 months are out-of-sync with the marketplace.

Why wait to find out whether or not that predicted downturn materializes this year? Implement the 5 critical marketing action steps below, and be prepared!

STEP I. Use Voice of Customer Research (VOC) to Determine What Your Customers Expect In This Uncertain Economy.

This involves in-depth interviews with prospects and customers to understand how they expect you to satisfy their needs for a high-value relationship based on increasingly relevant offers, services, and communications. To learn how Microsoft leveraged voice of customer guidance to develop a powerful customer engagement program which generated "unprecedented" results, refer to this case study.

STEP II. Create VOC-Driven Opt-In Relationship Strategies

This means engaging prospects and consumers to tell you exactly what they value and want as part of a Reciprocal Value Exchange. Learn what you must offer in order to motivate customers and prospective customers to provide you with information about themselves, their organization and their goals. The result: you will create a uniquely powerful Opt-In database.

STEP III. Create a VOC-driven Multichannel Mix

Preference-Driven Multichannel Marketing is the VOC-driven process for deployment of the social and traditional multichannel media mix, per individual preferences.

The optimal deployment of media should be driven by VOC learnings to ensure both relevance and effectiveness. Note that key elements of the multichannel mix must be deployed per the opt-in preferences of individual customers and prospects.

STEP IV. Create a VOC-Driven Social Media Presence

This means, not "selling" per se, but creating customer-driven strategies for real-time engagement with your customers and prospects. Use VOC research to understand how customers and prospects define a strong relationship with your company... and learn how customers want that relationship supported via social media.

Your goal with any social media campaign is to build loyalty through engagement. People who participate in an effective online community return to a site nine times as often and stay five times as long.

STEP V. Invest in an Excellent Customer Service Experience

This means not pretending that customer service is something for Operations to worry about.

It means repositioning customer service strategically, as a profit center for your organization, and judging its effectiveness by its ability to generate excellent customer experiences that drive repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals which generate new business.

Life Line Screening Case Study Results: 40% increase in returning customers, based on implementing VOC-driven relationship strategies per the five steps above.

These 5 steps will ensure that you are aligned with your customer's key needs and priorities and will set you apart from competitors who are doing the same old thing.

The 5 steps should become part of your company's core culture to help you attract and retain the customer evangelists who will help your business to grow -- even in a down market.

TRY THIS:

Start with a commitment to simply listen, in-depth, to your customers and prospects and learn what they feel must happen for you to "do right" by them.

In "doing right" by the customer, you pay no price, but instead generate loyalty that outlasts economic ups and downs.

Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.

Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

2010-12-08-ernan.jpgErnan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.

His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.

Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."