You can admit it now: In your heart you always knew the housing/credit/market bubble was going to burst one day. So now what?
I recently read an item by a marketer saying they were glad the bubble had burst, because now they could get back to real marketing.
What did they mean by that? If I read it correctly, the writer – a marketer – was saying that while the various bubbles grew and grew, it became ever easier to market almost anything. You didn’t have to research what the market wanted. You didn’t have to expend time coming up with your best offer. You didn’t have to think too deeply about what new products and services to introduce. If you offer it, they will buy.
That is an oversimplification, of course; but some days it really felt like that. People and companies had access to limitless credit… were earning money hand over fist through stock markets and public offerings … or were becoming rich (on paper) from ever-inflating real estate values. It was easy to tempt them into “what the heck, I can afford it,” impulse buying.
Now they are scared. They don’t want to buy anything that doesn’t keep roofs over their heads, put food on their tables, or help them meet their payrolls.
So what you have to do is get back to marketing basics, to figuring out how to make people buy from you when they are panicked about buying anything from anybody.
Here is where to start:
Pay attention to your customers. Who are they? What do they want? What do they want that you can provide them with better, or cheaper than your competitors? How can you provide better customer service and, above all, better customer experiences.
To understand who your customers are, what traits they share and where to find more prospects like them (especially prospects who are like your best customers), you have to start using the techniques of market segmentation – also called demographics.
A demographic analysis of your current list of customers can tell you – in aggregate – amazing things about them: education and income levels, home ownership, types of families, vehicle preferences, job types, and more.
Remember YUPPIES? They were a market segment: Young Upwardly-mobile Professionals. Understanding them made it easier to sell to them. Same thing with DINKS (Double Income, No Kids).
There are similar tools and principles to create profiles of businesses, including profiles of your competitors.
Here’s a link to a number of useful links on basic demographics:
Here’s a link to some excellent free articles and whitepapers on B2B demographics
This article (albeit a bit long) is one that provides some direction for marketers during this time http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Marketing/Sectors_Regions/the_downturn_new_rules_for_marketers_2262
From a Chinese curse “May we live in interesting times”……… Hopefully 2009 isn’t quite so interesting!