|Ed. note: I wrote this article back in 2003, as the American economy was beginning to emerge from the 2001 recession. While it was originally intended to speak to the initial stages of an economic boom, I believe it's still good advice for businesses competing in any economic environment.
As the American economy emerges from recession, many businesses are now reexamining their marketing materials and realizing that their communications are outdated, ill-prepared for the return of a robust, competitive, growing economic environment. Strategies developed to survive hard times are often the wrong ones for profiting in good times.
Here are five strategies for ensuring that your marketing is fully prepared for the economic recovery:
Promote the most optimistic tone possible. Now isn't the time to hide your strength or to conserve your energy - show your industry leadership by promoting a tone of bold optimism in every written work that represents your company. Every word of every sentence should be carefully crafted to project the good news that your company is doing well, growing strong, and standing ready to carry your customers' confidence to new heights in the coming year. There's simply no room for doubt or even neutrality in the words that represent you to the world.
Stress growth, not survival. Your business survived the recession - pat yourself on the back, but not in public. Some companies begin an economic recovery by merely reminding old customers that they still exist; don't be one of them. Instead, demonstrate how your business grew, evolved and improved in recent years - and is now providing more value to your customers than ever. In communications that mention the economic downturn, don't deny the facts, but present them as historic opportunities for your company rather than ordeals to be survived.
Stress benefits, not costs. A recessionary economy naturally forces companies into price wars, and customers instinctively associate price slashing with a down economy and a shrinking company. Analyze your marketing, take note of any aspect which promises lower costs than your competitors, and replace as many as possible with promotions of your greatest positive service benefits. When the growing economy allows for a price recovery, you don't want to be hamstrung by marketing that promises recessionary pricing.
Remember who your friends are - and why. Your core customer base is the reason you're still in business. Take a moment and thank them for their continued patronage. Take particular note of the reasons why your most loyal customers stand by you, through good times and bad. Ask them, if necessary. As the economy shifts gears, you have an opportunity to discover very profitable facts about your market that can go unnoticed in both recessions and expansions. Learn those facts and refocus your communications appropriately.
Finally, get back to basics. Now's the time to take a good look at your business, in light of long-term goals and your original reasons for being in business. Dust off your business plan, reload your mission statement, and evaluate your core communications in terms of the fundamental principles that make up your company; use your marketing to not only bring in new business, but to also inspire your company to grow great into the vision that gave birth to it in the first place.
Your written communications are instrumental to bringing your company's vision into the world; the coming year is going to bring great opportunity to those businesses prepared to take advantage of it.
As the economy shifts gears from recession to expansion, make sure your marketing does as well.