How to Adapt When the Market (and Leads) Slow Down

| By Maggie Swift
How to Adapt When the Market (and Leads) Slow Down

The economy has finally shifted and while we have all been anticipating it, the fear of the unknown still exists. If you are in tech, finance or real estate, your fears might be a little greater than others. But we have been here before and history has shown us that those who are quick enough to adapt to the changing times have made it through, sometimes on top. 

Yesterday, I sat in on a speaking panel hosted by the Denver HBA titled Embracing the Change. Senior President of Oakwood Homes, Aric Jones, put it perfectly when he said, “Change is necessary and inevitable; it’s more about how we adapt to change.”

Below, we get into where your marketing and sales efforts should head as we enter this important time of change. 

Shifting Your Resources

First things first: removing your investment in sales and marketing is not only risky, it could be perilous to your business or market share.  Instead, consider the task of shifting resources and strategies rather than removing them.  

What marketing strategies are experimental or lack success?

When the market is hot and sales are coming in, we have more money to spend on experimental strategies. We have more money to lose on strategies that are not showing huge amounts of success. It’s time to audit those channels and strategies and remove them, temporarily. Put your internal resources and budget towards things you know work well. 

What can be accomplished internally?

people sitting on steps working with laptops and smiling

It’s time for all hands on deck. Your team needs to be on board and ready to fight. (Can you tell I am on Season 4 of Vikings?) Valhalla aside, take time to analyze your internal processes and establish talent and roles that can help fulfill things you otherwise would have outsourced. Who can manage email marketing content or banner ad creatives? Who can lead the charge on consistent, engaging organic social media content? What team member is willing to train on uploading blogs and portfolios to your website?

Maintaining a positive team environment that embraces learning and mistakes is critical here. As Tina Martelon-Braunthal, VP of Sales at TriPointe Homes put it yesterday at the speaking panel, “…it’s not about whether we are going to get through it, it’s [about] getting my people through it and maintaining great attitudes.”

What is necessary to outsource that is too technical for your team?

Some items in your marketing strategy are too technical for your team and would put your marketing and lead generation into a precarious situation. If you cut a web development cost and expect a marketing manager to learn how to build new web pages, you put user experience and branding at risk. If you cut the SEO investment and ask your marketing team to take over SEO, you set yourself up for huge missed opportunities within your most valuable marketing channel for lead generation. 

Be realistic about technical areas of marketing and don’t assume they are easy to learn for your internal team. 

Efficiency Marketing in Paid Media

laptop with graphic overlay of digital ads

Last year, we wrote about the importance of prioritizing the collection of first-party data and investing in a CRM. And here’s why: when budgets and resources have decreased to support a nest egg, marketers should turn to an efficient marketing strategy. An efficient marketing strategy is all about leveraging an audience that already exists because it’s cheaper and more efficient. 

Most leaders know that new customers have the highest customer acquisition cost. Users that are already familiar with your brand in some shape or form are three steps ahead of users that have no idea you exist. How can we leverage those users to generate sales more quickly?

  • Audit your first-party data and CRM – there are most likely many contacts that your sales team hasn’t had the chance to engage with other a long period of time. Additionally, clean up those contacts and ensure they are segmented properly across your sales and marketing lists. 
  • Audit other lists you may have forgotten about – events in the past might have similar audiences to your ideal client that your sales teams are going after.
  • For paid media, using first-party data plus retargeting audiences pave the way for efficient marketing strategies. Analyze your impressions and audiences on whatever platforms you are advertising on. If you are not spending enough money on retargeting compared to our overall website traffic numbers, consider removing new audience acquisition from your budget. 
  • If you have been dragging your feet (like us!) on launching a robust retention strategy, now is the time to get to it! Develop content and email marketing strategies around past and current customers. Consider investing in a referral program. 

How to Adapt Sales & Continue to Leverage

Auditing and leveraging your data is not just beneficial for your marketing efforts, your sales team needs this realignment as well. In the past couple of years, it’s unsurprising that everyone’s focus was on new customer acquisition. But again, when the market shifts and resources decrease, we must aim for the lowest customer acquisition cost possible. In sales, that means spending less time acquiring new customers and less money paying for leads in the pipeline. 

  • Audit your current sales processes and determine if prospects are getting the right amount of touches throughout their sales journey. 
  • Audit your sales sequences and templates in your CRM. Look for ways to improve and educate the team on why they need improvement. Empower them to be discerning and diligent when it comes to spending time on prospects. 
  • Set up ongoing education for your sales team on value-based selling vs. cost-based selling, among other tactics. Ensure they are effectively messaging the value and differentiators your service or product provides. If your team feels support from sales leadership and the marketing team, they are more likely to maintain a positive attitude during challenging times.  
  • Audit your customer experience. What areas of your customer’s journey are showing gaps? If you can perfect this experience for your clients or customers, you can ensure they will be back and/or give out a great amount of referrals. Increasing customer lifetime value is key to profitability and growth.

Adapting Messaging in Marketing & Sales for a Downturn

If you are a keen marketer in charge of a robust strategy, you have most likely had to adapt your messaging frequently based on a/b testing and campaign metrics. Now is the time to take it one step further and dive deep into why customers aren’t pulling the trigger as quickly as they might have in the past two years. A great content example of this comes from the real estate industry and a meme that went viral by an unknown brand:

In this example, the marketer addresses that there are more pros than cons of buying in the downturn and articulates the incentives in a clear, visual way. It’s important that you analyze the audience segment for which this type of content is created: time to think wouldn’t intrigue the luxury buyer as they already had lots of time to think about purchasing a multi-million dollar home.

  • Talk to your sales teams about the latest objections they are hearing. If you can find patterns in these objections, you now have direction for adapting your content strategy to the changing times. 
  • Value-based selling has always been our #1, but now it’s vital that your entire sales and marketing team are on the same page. 
  • Analyze your audience segments and any historical data to determine what buyers are the lowest-hanging fruit during an economic downturn. Place your focus on those and ensure your messaging, email marketing, and social media posts are directed towards them. 
  • Align your sales team and marketing team’s messaging. In this day and age, your sales and marketing teams should be regularly communicating and meeting.  

Focus on User Experience & CRO on Your Website

How can we fuel our assets that we have already invested a lot of money and time into? While this should be an ongoing priority of any business, you can surely find low hanging fruit that can help boost your conversion rates somewhat immediately. While UX (user experience) and CRO (conversion rate optimization) are both robust sets of expertise on their own, there are cost-effective ways your internal team can analyze and make decisions.

  • Add the forever-free Microsoft Clarity user behavior analytics tool to your site. Keep in mind that you will want to leave enough time for data to aggregate before making any major UX or CRO decisions. 
  • Analyze the traffic in your top resource pages and blog posts in Google Analytics. Create a master list or library of all resource pages and blog posts that are not being read or have super low engagement. Set up a plan to revive these blog posts or resource pages to make them more valuable to your users. 
  • Your homepage is your most important page. Are users scrolling through the whole thing? Where do they drop off? Are they clicking on spaces that are not clickable? What items in your main navigation get the most clicks and are they in the right place? What items are getting fewer clicks and can you update the labeling to make them more compelling? 
  • Can your blog or resource pages be higher converting? Do they have links to related information? Do they have a call to action? Is there a form fill on the page?

Last Thoughts

As if marketers needed one more role to fill within an organization, you will now likely need to defend and protect your marketing budget to leadership.  The company has hired you for a reason: to give them sound advice on marketing strategies based on market changes. Do your research and come to the table prepared with historical data that proves companies who continue to spend during economic downturns come out on top. Show them you are not just spending, you are adapting and refining, and give them a report on your ideas. We may not all make it through this, but the ones who are flexible, willing and able to adapt, will. 

If you would like to outsource more technical aspects of your marketing strategy or get a jump start on 2023 marketing strategy, contact Unframed Digital to set up a free introductory call. 

hello@unframeddigital.com | (315) 430-4609