It’s coming. There’s another recession on its way. It might not hit this year or next, but there’s always one on the horizon.
I have vivid memories of each recession since 1989, because of my family’s business. My parents own a recruiting agency, and their industry is highly susceptible to recessions. When the job market tanks so does recruiting.
When I joined my family’s business in 2004 the company was still reeling from the tech wreck and recession of the early 2000’s. Sales were down, and finding new clients was a struggle. And we knew it was only a matter of time before the next recession hit.
My mandate was to recession-proof the business so we didn’t have to suffer the rollercoaster effect of a volatile job market.
Be in your prospects’ Path of Search
Google is your best friend in a recession. In a down market you need to cast a wider net. You’ve got to go beyond your customers and network, and find the few companies that need your services.
The first issue I tackled in recession-proofing our business was making the services very easy to find. I went beyond search engine optimization, and considered who we are, what we do and when customers needed our services. And I built our search strategy at a brand level—by positioning the firm exclusively for recruiting sales and marketing professionals in the Toronto market.
Being purposeful in defining who we are reflected in our search results. And when prospects visited our site they found a clear story and services to fit their needs. Since 2005 search has delivered at least one new customer per week on average. And this volume maintained through the 2009-2010 recession.
Grow relationships before you’re needed
Being in the Path of Search is not enough to recession-proof your business. It’s great for customers looking for services, but it doesn’t build brand awareness or create demand.
To grow demand for the business we focused on building and scaling relationships. Our goal was to build relationships with our prospects and customers upwards of three years before they needed us. We worked to be our customers’ first call when they needed our expertise.
We came to this model, because we examined our customers’ buying habits. Most of our clients did not hire a new sales person every year. Instead they brought on new reps every other year to support growth and manage attrition.
We grew our relationships through content. We built on our company’s focus of recruiting sales and marketing professionals, and created purposeful content that spoke to this audience.
The program was simple. Create high quality, opinion-based content that would engage our audience whether they were buying or not. The idea was to share our ideas and expertise freely, and build relationships with our market long before our services were needed.
The content marketing grew our reach. The phone rings constantly with customers who have been following us for years, and suddenly have a need.
Start preparing for the next recession now
Our recession-proofing strategy paid off. The business did not slip through the 2009-2010 recession, while the rest of the industry suffered. In fact, these were two of our most profitable years ever. And the program keeps ticking along.
Don’t let the memory of this latest recession fade. Keep it fresh in your mind and start building your strategy to not only weather the next one, but to thrive in it.