We have all been in crisis mode over the last few weeks. Dealing with working remotely, having kids underfoot, going crazy with the COVID announcements, tax extension announcements, relief-package-this, and CARES-Act-that. We’ve been cranking out communications both internally and externally as fast as our faded manicured fingers can type. The struggle has been REAL, and we know it is not over yet.
Many of our firms run on a May 1 fiscal year, and a lot of us were just putting the finishing touches on our FYE 2021 marketing strategy and budgets. Then overnight, those plans and budgets have become obsolete. Before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, let’s all pour ourselves an oversized glass of wine, take a deep breath, and Olivia Pope our situation.
First, we need to get real about our situation. Even if the pandemic ends next week, our economy is going to take years to fully recover. That’s right, I said it, years. The markets might bounce back, but the long term effects on businesses around the world are significant. It’s time to go into recession mode. Most of us know that one of the first things to get cut is marketing. We need to be proactive right now to ensure we have a hand in what gets cut and what doesn’t. Below are some strategies for marketer survival.
Communication is key. Make sure to communicate to your boss, managing partner, CFO…whomever, that you are going to be looking at your department’s strategy and budget to reassess given the current situation. Letting them know you are being proactive makes you look like a rock star, allows them to refocus their machete on other things, and buys you a bit of time to come up with a plan, instead of having someone else hand it to you.
Reassess your budget to help with cash flow. Open your budget document and start tagging specific expenses, like:
- What is critical to run your department? (like your salary and marketing software)
- What expenses are you already in contract for?
- What items can you take out?
- What items are under contract, but you could potentially renegotiate?
Crowdsource ideas. If you have a marketing team, reach out to them for ideas. Ask them for any innovative ways your department can help clients or possibly start offering certain marketing services to clients to bring in revenue. New services directed at assisting clients through this time are not only our obligation as professionals, but they will help sustain the firm as the demand for traditional services softens. Then ask your team for innovative ways to tighten up marketing costs. Take advantage of the combined wisdom and diverse group of minds that make up your departments.
Client experience first. As you make changes both to your department and your firm, make sure there is little to no impact on client experience. As trusted advisors, we need to be their rock in this challenging time. If they see that your firm is unsteady at all, you will lose your clients as they lose faith in the firm.
Check actions with values. As you start to form your new strategies, make sure they still line up with your firm’s core values. During this time, it is easier to generate business decisions from a place of panic than a place of assurance. Using your core values as your guiding light will narrow your focus on what is right, so you can look at decisions as a no brainer.
Final thoughts. Remember that there is no one plan or strategy during this time — it will be a series of plans and strategies as this situation unfolds. The situation is fluid, and your strategies for marketer survival should be too. Don’t wait to start making adjustments. When you make cuts, make them deep the first time, so you don’t have to come back and do it again. So, let’s get ahead of the game, pull-up our sweatpants, and get to work.