Over the past few weeks, the Scale Up team have been talking about economic uncertainty. Right now it feels unavoidable; it’s all over the news, some well-known brands have called it a day and costs are going up for just about everything. So we’ve looked at who’s doing things well right now and taken three lessons from brands who are riding out economic uncertainty in style.
Focus on your current customers
Customers are the most effective growth engine. Time spent on building relationships with them to build loyalty and encourage referrals is a worthwhile investment, and it’s more cost-effective than looking for new customers.
Faced with higher costs, consumers are cutting down on spending, which is having a knock on effect on businesses, suppliers and the economy. So, what can you do? Look at it this way - the customers you have right now are your most valuable asset. They need to feel that their needs are not only being met, but prioritised. One way you can do this is to focus on building loyalty through surprise and delight.
Insurance company Lemonade have done this well. They send personalised birthday emails to loyal customers, and when a customer thanked them on Twitter, they sent him an actual birthday cake and then the customer thanked them on Twitter again. Lemonade’s attention to detail in this case allowed them not to only secure the loyalty of one customer, but they found a great marketing tool to gain visibility and in turn goodwill from a new audience. And all for the cost of a cake.
If your product is working well and you have happy customers, consider what you could do to go the extra mile to generate loyalty and referrals. And it’s so worth doing - customers acquired through referrals have a 37% higher retention rate.
Maintain strong brand position and messaging
Don’t lose sight of your brand positioning and messaging. This is one of the ways that your customers will stay connected with your brand, and it’s easy to get lost in the crowd if your brand isn’t memorable.
We love how Surreal Cereals are doing this. Surreal has sustained the same mission since its launch, to “make and provide consumers with cereal they loved as kids nutritionally relevant for today”. As a business, they understood that the cereal market was the perfect place for a challenger brand to shake things up with a great product, a very clear target audience and strong brand voice, specifically on their social media and billboards. The brand is going from strength to strength and we will be following their journey.
When was the last time you reviewed your brand positioning and messaging? You don’t need to have the biggest budget or to shout the loudest to win your customers over, but you do need to be unique. This might be through your product, customer experience or even price, but it’s worth taking some time to consider what makes you different, why this matters to your customers and how you communicate this to your audience.
Understanding motivations and changing attitudes
In times of uncertainty, customer anxieties will heighten, so make time to stay on top of feedback and changing customer needs.
Talk to your audience, ask questions to understand their context, what’s going on for them at the moment and what they are trying to get done? Have their priorities shifted? Is there a new opportunity to provide value?
You may need to pivot your business and adapt your product to move with the times. One of our favourite recent examples is the online community REALWORK, which adapted to customer feedback to stop doing time-consuming webinars and just focus on community through Slack conversations and connection through weekly Zooms.
If you do one thing after reading this email, I would encourage you to ask your customers for feedback, find out their current priorities and challenges, and think about how this fits with your current product. If you need some help doing a deeper dive, hit reply to this email or DM me on LinkedIn.