Recession Proof Your Business – Create A Plan To Thrive

Recession Proof Your Business
Picture of Audrey Kerchner

Audrey Kerchner

Chief Marketing Strategist, Inkyma

Recessions don’t have to be scary or times of famine for a small business. If you are prepared and Recession proof your business they can be a time of great growth for your business. The key is being prepared. Often times business get stuck in a rut when income is good and customers are plentiful. This is the time to create your recession plan. Here are the top things you need to do to create the recession proof your business plan

1 – Keep your marketing budget at the same level and if you can increase it.
2. Build strong relationships with your existing customer community.
3. Upsell to those existing customers.
4. Create incentive programs to keep current customers and gain new ones.
5. Join a BNI – this type of group is your BFF during a recession.
6. Create products and services specifically for the recession
7. Don’t be tone deaf.
8. Look at your expenses and cut out what you really don’t need.

Take a listen to the episode where I dive into each one of these topics to help you create your Recession Proof Your Business Plan.

Links Mentioned In This Episode 

Products We Recommend


Episodes Mentioned in the Podcast

Episode 44- ROI Of Time From A Marketer’s Perspective 

Episode 30- Getting More Revenue From Existing Customers Pt 1 

Episode 31- Getting More Revenue From Existing Customers Pt 2

Episode 79-Cross Industry Innovation – A Model For Small Business Innovation

Article – Small Business Marketing Tips 

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What we discussed:

  • Making the word recession less scary
  • Stay prepared and pay attention to the market
  • Keeping a level head and reviewing those expenses

Recession Proof Your Business – Create A Plan To Thrive Transcript

*Not ready to give this episode a listen or watch just yet? Below is a rough transcript of today’s episode.*

 The word is being thrown around everywhere right now, recession. In order to weather the recession storm and it is a storm for it will pass. You need to get prepared. In this episode, I’m gonna chat with you about the top things you can do to get prepared and recession proof your business. So grab your wellies and let’s.

 So before we get, knee deep into the waters of the recession, let’s just talk about a little housekeeping. so in the show notes, which are on for the particular podcast, there are links to articles and podcast episodes that I am going to reference, a rough transcript of the entire podcast.

and. we always have other things in these podcasts. If sometimes I make, product recommendations, book recommendations, those links are gonna be in there as well. we are partners with the products that I recommend, and you’ll hear me talk about a bunch of products. Over and over again because we use them, we love them.

and a lot of them we’ve used for years and years and years. So I wanna make sure you’re getting the best things to help you market your business. So by using our links, we do get a small commission, and it just helps us to keep on creating the content that we’re creating. So if you’re gonna buy something, use our links.

we really appreciate it. Okay, so recession, In good times, business owners get lazy. clients are just showing up, they’re signing up. and you’re really not putting a whole lot of effort into it. Right? I kind of say this tongue in cheek, if you could see my face here, I’m like rolling eyes at myself here.

because we as business owners, we work really hard to make it look that effortless, right? but yes, things do fall off our plate when that plate is very full, right? Some things with marketing might fall off. Things with accounting. We might let certain subscriptions go, and then a recession comes, right?

and a recession, you know, is when consumers and some businesses, stop or pull back spending because of social and or economical factors, right? now what’s interesting is I’m not sure how many small business owners remember the very, very beginning of the Covid pandemic in March, April of 2020. That’s like when things first started shutting down. It got a little weird. and when things get weird, we stop spending money. so in my mind, that very beginning period was actually really a. we didn’t know what was going on. we were all at home, weren’t going out. And we knew it was gonna be for a long time. We probably didn’t know it was gonna be for as long as it was. but then as soon as we started seeing where things were going, how things were laying out, certain industries shot through the roof, like crafts and exercise and electronics, and then others continued to suffer.

Like restaurants, gyms, hairs. and then during that time, I’m watching everything very closely. I was just like glued to the internet, social media, internet, social media, YouTube, reading articles, all that kind of stuff. And what I saw was that the businesses that were tough, that were determined, they got going, they figured it out.

They figured out a way. I think the ones that got back on their feet faster. Kind of already had an idea in their head, if not a plan in place for a recession. and that’s why they survived at first, right? They got their feet under them faster than everybody else, and then they thrived, right?

And then they thrived even more. My business, my marketing company, Inma, we weren’t immune. I had those first two months, March and April. not only did I not have new clients, come in the door, but existing clients, like a lot of them turned services off. They did that panic thing, Oh, I’m gonna stop spending.

but it was only for a couple of months and I used that time wisely, to, you know, start kicking my plan. and then the clients came back and things were turned back on, because when they turned them off, they didn’t just email me and say, Turn this off. We had a conversation. I had so many conversations with business owners, clients, potential clients, people I just knew during that timeframe to talk about what the heck do we.

And I’m happy to say that all my clients, that came back and stayed with me during the pandemic, right? They dusted things off. We talked through things. they’re still thriving. They’re still alive, and they’re going strong. . I had one client where it was his secondary business. We were trying to get it off the ground for him.

That one didn’t survive because he doubled down and refocused on his primary business. So I’m not sure that one ever counts. so today, given all that information preparing you for these. these tips and there’s gonna be eight of ‘ em. I’m gonna share with you what I did, what my clients did, what other business owners did, during that time, and also discussions I’ve had with business owners from previous recessions did.

so this is like a compilation of understanding how all of this works from the last 12 years I’ve been in business and even before then when I was in corporate America. Cuz I learned things then too. So that’s why, I think this is gonna be a really cool, episode for you. So, number one, first and foremost, we are a marketing podcast.

keep your marketing budget at the same level and where possible increase it. Right? Businesses should not stop spending during a recession period. Especially on marketing, You know why? because there’s a return on that investment. The old adage is, you gotta spend money to make money.

And it’s true. It’s not like you’re, saying, Oh, I’m not gonna buy a pair of shoes, or I need to pull back on this kind of stuff. When you pull back on your marketing, you’re actually saying, No, I’m not accepting more leads. I don’t wanna generate awareness of my business. That is probably the furthest thing from the truth of what you’re trying to do.

ignore that knee-jerk reaction to turn spending off. and then. Keep continuing to do it. And when you start seeing stuff about, oh, you spend less, realize they’re talking to consumers, they’re not talking to business owners, right? Business owners, we gotta keep spending because increasing your marketing generates.

More awareness and more leads, and those leads are harder to find during a recession. And so you wanna find as many as possible. it’s kind of like shaking out couch cushions, right? You gotta take all that money, put it right back into the business. go back to the thought process of those early days.

The second one is build strong relationships with your existing customer community. And I would start that like right away, right now. customers are gonna stick with you if they feel like you’re looking out for them. And so here’s the interesting thing from a psychological perspective, right? During a recession, we’re spending money as consumers, right?

We’re not just like spending. , right? We need groceries, we need certain stuff. So then we start categorizing things. Is it necessity or is it nice to have you wanna ensure that your business is product servicing Is. Or offerings are considered a necessity and not a nice to have. And let’s look at the pandemic.

All of a sudden, things like crafts and exercise equipment were considered necessities. Think about that. What we think in our head, about money and spending is not logical. It’s actually emotional. First. It’s like, what do I need to maintain my, my. and that’s where we’re gonna put our money.

And so that’s why building that relationship is so critical for you. To be seen as that necessity if you’re looking out for them, if you are staying in communication, you’re doing the right things, you’re being helpful, you’re solving their problems over and over again, going the extra mile, when it doesn’t really cost you anything else, that’s where you’re gonna wind up in that necessity.

Categor. . And then because you do that, we can move on to number three because then you upsell to those existing customers, right? You have probably more than one product or service that you’re selling. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because they bought one thing from you or get one service from you.

They know everything else that you do. I did. Two part podcast episodes, 30 and 31 about getting more revenue from your existing customers. And it’s all based on this premises. You’ve gotta tell them all of the things you do and you gotta do it pretty often. so don’t assume that they know. Give them suggestions.

Be helpful, right? If you bought this, you might like that, right? It’s still in that same category. And remember, you as the company are the necessity, not just the product or service.

And then the next thing you wanna do to kind of carry on top of that is creating incentive programs to keep those current customers happy, sitting in the necessity category, and then to gain new ones as well that see what you’re offering and think, Yeah, I need that now too. and that special offer that you.

It doesn’t have to be forever. If you position it the right way from the moment you introduce it that there is an expiration date to it, you’re not gonna get a hold lot of backlash when it goes away. and people like things like that, especially if they look at it and go, Oh, it’s something I really want, You know, it’s kind of a necessity, but because you’re giving me such a great deal on it, I’m actually gonna do it now.

I’m gonna take advantage of it. a company that I thought did this really well during the. Is a company called Affinity. They make graphic design software. It’s competitive to the Adobe suite of products. So if you’ve heard of Photoshop and Illustrator, they make similar products and they’re really wonderful.

they’re not as expensive. They’re one time license purchases as opposed to the reoccurring subscription. And so what they did, They said that if you bought their online and their tablet version, they’re gonna give you 50% off the whole deal. The whole shebang. and that was really great because if you needed to cut back on the expense of that subscription service by spending money once and getting it at a discount, making the switch or trying it out was a no brainer.

And the great thing is, is that, I think people bought more because of the fact that,It was bundled, whereas if they just bought one, they were actually spending more. So number five is join A, B, and I, Chapter B and I is a networking, an international networking group where members of a chapter help each other find business.

That is its purpose. That is its goal, right? It’s not a fun lunch club. It is not a community based. Service thing. No, it is. I’m helping you find business. You’re helping me find business. Let’s all work together. sometimes it’s called your sales team sitting in the room with you.

and this type of a group, if you’re a member established, this is your BFF during a recession. You’re with like-minded business owners that are, are spending their time every week to get to know you, to help you build your business. And you’re doing the same thing. That’s who you want in your corner.

when things get a little squirly or go off the rails in these economic times. what I think is really cool about this too is that because of the pandemic, b and i has introduced online virtual only chapters in specific regions. so you meet online, you’re not in person, and you don’t have to live in the region that the chapter has been formed in.

You just have to do business there. So if you are a multi-state national company, you can be a member in a chapter. on the other side of the country if you want to, which is really cool. In my chapter, which is an online, only chapter, cuz I’m a national business, I’ve got people that are two states away, which is really cool.

It helps me expand my business. and so a story that I like to share is,when I was in. A B and I group, gosh, it’s gotta be 10 years ago now. there was a landscaping company. Hey Gene, haven’t seen you in a while. Hope you’re still doing well. he had this great story that. , his landscaping business made it through that recession in 2002, which was like post nine 11.

cause of the fact that he was in a BNI chapter and he never left. if you are a BNI member, you know the trade guys, sometimes they come and go depending on how economical things are going for them. But genes like, No, I stay no matter what because, my business. Is, recession proof because of it.

And I was newer in my business at, at the time when he would always tell this story and it stuck with me because I was like, Wow, that is such a smart thing to do as a business owner. And it’s one of the reasons why I’m still in a BNI chapter. I’ve been in one on and off since 2008. so yeah, definitely take a look.

Number six on my list is creating products and services specifically for the recession. That if you choose to, you can stop offering Once things, get back to normal. We saw a lot of this going on. The innovation was astounding during the pandemic. we saw restaurants and people doing all sorts of different things just to be able to keep doing business while we were staying apart.

The one thing that we did here at Inma was again, weird and different things were happening. Social media wasn’t the buzz. but what we did is I put together a webinar, series program where we worked with businesses so that they could keep talking to people online. And it was great. that brought us so many new clients, so much new business, so much so that our company actually grew in revenue in 2020, well over what we did in 2019.

And I think that one offering amongst all the other ones that we did was probably the biggest reason why. So number seven is, is don’t be tone deaf. you’re gonna keep your marketing out there, right? But you gotta look at all of it and make sure the messaging is still appropriate for what’s going on socially, economically, in the world.

I think you should be doing this all the time anyway. There’s always like subtle shifts in How people read and think about things. But when you have big things like recessions happen, you gotta be particularly careful, acknowledge that it’s tough, that you’re in it with them, that you wanna,ride this storm out with your existing customers or new customers or what’s in it for them.

And make sure all your marketing messaging reflects it. So go look at your website, copy, dust that homepage, copy off, take a look at it, look at what your description says in your Google My Business listing. And on your Facebook page and on your Instagram, that’s where I wanna make sure you look,look at those images too, and make sure you know.

they’re appropriate for everything that’s going on right now. the one question you wanna ask yourself when you look at all this stuff is, is this helpful to people in their current situation, in the world’s current situation? and when you look at it, you’re gonna go, Yeah, or no, and then adjust accordingly.

And then the last one I’m gonna share with you is look at your expenses, right? As businesses, we have expenses and we always wanna keep. as small as possible, because if we’re spending extra, we’re not making as much money. And you wanna cut out what you really don’t need, right? and it happens to all of us.

you buy a software subscription, you thought it was gonna pan out. It didn’t, Maybe you’re not happy with a vendor you’re working with and you wanna try to,upgrade or find another one, or find one that you know does a better job but doesn’t quite cost as much or bring it in house.

What can you automate, right? Even though you might be spending money on the tool to automate it, it’s gonna be far less than manual labor. So when you look at expenses, don’t just look at financial expenses, look at time expenses as well. I did a whole podcast on the ROI of time. and make sure that you and your employees are spending their time wisely.

That’s important during this too, because you’re spending a lot of extra brain power trying to figure out all this recession stuff. The last thing you need to be doing is a, manual task that you don’t need to be right. Get that stuff off your plate, and then throughout all that, just ask yourself the question, can you find a better value for your spend?

If you have to spend it, get the most out of it. Okay, so we’ve come to the portion of the podcast episode where I talk about what to do next and taking action. So this is what I want you to do, make a plan right now, this week, the recession, as of this recording, it’s not here yet.

It’s kind of lumen. , it may come, it may not. But you wanna be prepared. a lot of what I’ve talked about today doesn’t have to be executed next week. but if you have a plan in place on what you think you’re gonna wanna do, it’s gonna make it far easier to execute it when the time is right and necessary.

So in addition to the plan that you wanna get in place right now, there are two things that I think you should do immediate. one is to join a networking group like a bni. I’m not saying you have to join bni, butthat’s the one I think that is gonna view the best return on that, time and money investment.

But there could be other groups, right? The reason I say do it now is because you’re dealing with other people and it takes time to build trust and to get to know everybody and to get that referral and, business lead engine. . So you don’t wanna like turn that on, when you’re already like, Oh my goodness, I need to start generating more revenue.

You want that in place. And then the nice thing is, you don’t have to do it yourself. You can delegate it to someone else. Or if you wanna double down, you can join one group. They can join another group. Or if you get two or three employees, join two or three different groups.

And then also look at those expenses. It’s always the right time to look and see if there are any expenses that you don’t need. You can lessen, you can automate, streamlining is something you should always constantly be doing. So here are my final thoughts for you on this topic. recessions don’t have to be scary, get prepared and then pay attention, and they’re far less scary.

I’ve found that during those times, there is heartache, there is sadness, there are things that people don’t like, but if you’re watching and paying attention, that’s where kind of innovation can come out to. It’s kind of like the lemonade of the recession, right? That innovation. it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

it can benefit. . So trying to put together, a marketing plan for something like this is challenging. It’s difficult, and this is where working with a professional marketing strategist like myself, Can come in very handy for you. so while you are the subject matter expert of whatever it is that your company does, this is what I do all day long.

I bring a lot of knowledge to the table, because I’m looking at trends, in industries. And then I look at cross industry as well. if you listen to episode 79 where I do cross industry innovation, that’s coming from part of the process and practice of what I do when I onboard a new customer and we’re trying to figure out what their marketing should look like.

So I can sit down any really good marketing strategist can sit down, look at your landscape and say, Here’s what you need to do to get ready for a recession. And it could be as simple as ramping up what you’re already doing. Maybe your marketing plan is solid, but then you need to ramp some things up, maybe put those incentives in place.

What are those programs look like? they’re gonna talk through with you what that looks like. And then also, Should be able to give you some indicators of, okay, here’s when you wanna think about turning it on. And it’s more like, Okay, when we start seeing these things happen, let’s sit down and have a conversation and figure out if that is the right time to start turning this stuff on.

This is one of those things that you don’t wanna DIY yourself, right? You wanna bring in someone who, this is what they. all day long. So here at inma we love giving back to the business community. if you wanna talk about that marketing recession plan, Go to the website,, I n k, and book a 45 minute free consultation with me.

I’ll talk to you about that. If you wanna talk about seo, digital advertising, what’s going on with the world, the Google, that 45 minutes is yours to talk about whatever you want to get Your mind, right about your company and your marketing. if you’ve got a quick question, or even better, if you have a suggestion for a show, I love those.

Scroll down to the contact form at the bottom of the page. Just fill it out. All that comes right to me. We have a marketing master. Blog resource for you where we have articles and videos on software tools and recommendations and things you should be doing if you are still in a DIY phase or hybrid DIY phase.

there’s a lot of great resources there for you. . And then I do recommend signing up for the Marketing Masterminds newsletter where all that gets pushed to you so it can just show up in your inbox and you can decide if the topic that’s there is, one that you want to consume at that moment in time or save it for later.

So I hope you found today’s, episode inspiring. helpful. Maybe give you a little bit more peace of mind. If so, please share it with other business owners. they need that same inspiration and peace of mind. And. Our job as a business community is to help each other grow and thrive. And that is what the income of Marketing Masterminds and podcast is all about, is helping you guys so that you can stay in business and grow and thrive.

So thanks so much for listening and I hope you have an amazing day. 

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