It’s been an interesting week in the land of communications. Silicon Valley Bank was shut down a little more than 10 days ago, with Signature Bank on its heels. One would think that wouldn’t really affect the life of the communicator or an agency owner since I’m willing to bet none of us had money there.
But my agency has four clients who had their money there. Many of you may also have clients who banked there—or work for organizations that did. If so, you know what I’m talking about.
We spent four solid days in crisis mode, helping our clients message the plan to employees, customers, and other stakeholders as more information became available.
It ended up being OK because the government was able to replace all of the money, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t freak out a little bit about it. On Friday, when four clients called within minutes of one another, it felt VERY much like the week between Christmas 2008 and 2009 New Year’s when we lost a majority of our clients due to the Great Recession.
The difference this time was that they needed immediate communications help—they weren’t calling to cancel our contracts (yet). It was a great reminder of how important it is to have diversified income to not rely on one client, one industry, or one type of service.
Spend Time On Marketing
A week or so ago, I sat in a podcast interview with a client and their guest. One of the questions our client asked his guest was about her experience running her own consulting firm. She said, “I didn’t realize how much time I’d have to spend on my own marketing to keep the pipeline strong and full. It’s really a full-time job.”
Yes. It is.
We talked a few weeks about the best time to plant your new business trees, and if you don’t already have a process in place, now is the time to get it done. I know it’s easy for me to say now because we’re not in a crisis yet, but the world has been talking about an impending recession, and now coupled with the SVB failure, it’s time to stop waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop and get your butt in gear.
Now is the time to get your marketing working even harder for you.
And I’m not speaking just to agency or business owners. This includes all of you working inside organizations and looking for ways to improve your marketing efforts.
Let’s talk through some ways to do that.
Define Which Work Best For You
First and foremost, if you don’t already know, you have to define which marketing tactics work best for you. Chip Griffin and I had a conversation on the Agency Leadership podcast a few weeks ago about the value of awards.
We asked listeners to dig into how much business they’ve won because of the awards they have on their shelves. Our educated guess is that most organizations win no business because of awards, yet many marketing and communications programs have a big focus on them.
The conversation that ensued in the Spin Sucks Community after that episode aired was around how much business is won because of the networking you get to do at the awards events. Great! Attend the event. Support your colleagues. Don’t submit yourselves for awards.
Do this kind of analysis for all of your marketing activities. I know that blogging, the Spin Sucks podcast, and our LinkedIn newsletter drive 99% of our new business activities. So that is where I spend all of my time.
Do a deep dive into each of your marketing activities, figure out which ones drive the most qualified leads—and leave the rest behind. When the economy is more stable, you can start to test things again.
Choose Low-Risk Channels
Once you know which activities are the most effective, you can figure out which channels are the most low-risk to help you promote them.
For instance, I mentioned our LinkedIn newsletter, which is free, extremely low-risk, and the most effective way to reach new audiences. We also have huge success from organic search—it’s the number one driver of new inbound leads. Also free and low-risk, though it does require the know-how of SEO, particularly on content.
We haven’t seen much success with boosted content sites like Outbrain and Taboola, so we skip them and save our money.
Use sites that are low-risk and either free or low-cost to help you promote the marketing activities that are the most effective.
Now that you know which marketing activities are the most effective and how to properly promote them without spending a ton of money, it’s time to demonstrate results.
One thing executives care about when looking at where their money is going is the percentage of revenue your marketing activities drive. They don’t care about the number of stories placed or podcast interviews or media impressions or engaged followers. They care how those things translate to cold, hard cash.
I know how challenging it is to demonstrate that kind of success, but it’s not impossible. First and foremost, the PESO Model Certification™ teaches you how to do it within a PESO Model™ marketing and comms program.
Secondly, we have a free online course launching with the Muck Rack Academy that will teach you precisely how to do this within the constraints of your programs. For instance, if you only do earned media, we’ll show you how to measure it to business outcomes. It’s coming soon!
As we come up on finishing the first quarter of 2023, we are working with the sales teams for our clients to demonstrate how much revenue we’ve influenced so far this year. For one client, it’s four times our budget. Four times. You can bet that when things get rough, they will think long and hard about canceling our contract because they know how much we’ve helped them grow.
That is the type of data you have to get your hands on so you can demonstrate that you are driving revenue for the business. Make it really tough for them to cut your salary or your agency fees.
Cash Is King
And the last thing I will leave you with is this: cash is king. This is true in your professional and personal lives. When the sky falls in, if you’re sitting on a bunch of debt without cash in your checking and savings accounts, it’s going to be rough. Start to tighten your belts now so that you can save your cash.
If you run a business, make sure you have at least three months of expenses, including everyone’s salaries (and your own) in the bank. The same goes for those of you who don’t own a business—have at least three months of personal expenses in your bank account.
I actually prefer to have at least six months’ worth, but you may not have time for that right now. It’s a goal to work toward in the next 18-24 months.
If you have any debt—credit cards or a line of credit—get them paid down or completely paid off. You don’t want that sitting on your balance sheet when a recession hits.
Bottom line: hoard cash right now. It will save you.
Prepare Now for an Impending Recession
This article is not meant to scare you but to help you prepare for what’s to come. We’ve all heard about an impending recession for more than a year. We’ve survived a pandemic, supply chain issues, and more. This banking thing is one more straw on top of a very weak foundation.
If you start to prepare now for when it comes crumbling down—instead of waiting until it does—you’ll be in a far better position not to lose any income, both personally and professionally.
Join Us In the Spin Sucks Community
If you’d like to learn more about how to prepare for an impending recession, join us in the Spin Sucks Community.
It’s a community full of crazy smart professionals. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s smart…and you might just learn a thing or two from your peers.