By Daniel Aharon, RedFork Marketing Content Director
Let’s be real. The world’s in a panic right now. But don’t worry, we’re not here to scare or alarm you. Instead, we want to help you prepare for a recession that’s already begun in some ways.
As you know, COVID-19 is causing a lot of uncertainty in the business world—especially for small businesses, including agencies and freelancers such as yourself.
Many economists believe that a full recession is on the horizon, so we wanted to share what we believe you and your agency can do to strengthen the value of your services, market it effectively to attract more clients, and optimize your workflow.
The goal: Survive. Then Grow!
So, how do you prepare your agency for a recession?
As a freelancer or agency, understanding the value of what you offer is crucial. It’s more important than ever to bring focus to what you actually do and provide.
There’s a reason that Apple continues to be successful year after year. Whether you like them or not, their value is at the forefront of every product they offer and Apple strategically built it this way. Their products are loved by their fanatic customer base because of the simplicity they add to everyday lives. And Apple continues to innovate with that core value in mind.
But value doesn’t matter if you don’t market it properly.
"Almost half of small businesses spend less than two hours per week on marketing efforts.”
Here are 7 tips for simplifying your marketing, so you can strengthen the value you offer and prepare for a recession:
Focus on benefits, not features
Speak about customers, not about yourself
Focus on what you do best
Don’t compete, partner up
Keep it consistent
Create a more streamlined experience
1. Focus on benefits, not features
Every product or service has features and benefits. The features are what they actually offer. The benefits are how they enhance the user’s experience. At the end of day, people care more about what they can do with a product, not all the nuts and bolts that go into it.
Here’s a quick example:
Feature: Phone with 24 hours of battery life.
Benefit: Never worry about charging your phone throughout the day.
See the difference?
You need to reshape the way you think about your services, then rewrite the way you communicate, because customers don’t buy fancy features. They buy something that adds value to their life. As the American economist Theodore Levit would say, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”
Use action words when writing about the benefits of your service.
Don’t write: “Website with up to 50 pages.”
Do write: “Get a beautiful website that closes more sales.”
2. Speak about customers, not about yourself
To be blunt, customers don’t care about you. They want to know what you can do for them. When you make it about yourself, your brand comes off as self-centered and uncaring, but if you make some minor messaging changes, you’ll start seeing more leads.
This is best exemplified by your website’s homepage value proposition. And one of our favorite examples is Airbnb’s: “Book unique places to stay and things to do."
This value proposition is simple and focuses directly on what their target audience wants. Airbnb knows that their users aren’t looking for run-of-the-mill hotel stays, so they drive value at the forefront of their site (along with the immediate ability to start searching).
Another example we love is from Quip. All of their messaging (section titles, body copy, etc.) speak directly about the customer and in turn builds trust with the target audience.
Use words like “you” and “yourself” to speak directly to your audience.
Company-based: “We have the best marketing services in town.”
Customer-based: “Get the best marketing services to grow your business.”
3. Focus on what you do best
In uncertain times, it’s best to cut out any services that aren’t at the core of what you offer. Whether it be website building, SEO services, or marketing, most (if not all) of your time should be spent on pumping out great results—even if that means taking on smaller budget clients. You’ll continue honing your skill and more importantly, gain valuable clients that will speak highly of you to others.
Apply this: Strip down to your essential services so you can focus on what you do best.
4. Don’t compete, partner up
Join a professional community where you can meet other agencies and freelancers. Then work with them to create a partnership that allows both of you to benefit. Let them know you’re in this together and that you’re willing to send clients their way, if they are to do the same for your services.
Tip: We’ve found that this works much better when referrals are rewarded with an ongoing 10% finders fee. This keeps everyone happy if one partner refers more than the other.
In our case, we don’t offer direct SEO and ad services, so we partnered with a local agency named Highforge that we trust to deliver our standards. And vice versa, when their clients are looking for specific website functionality, they reach out to us. This way, we both have each others’ backs in supporting local small businesses.
Write down the services you are best at.
Write down the services you wish you could offer and be great at.
Find other agencies and freelancers that can deliver those services at the high standard you set.
5. Be relevant
So you’ve got your newly shaped value-based services. It’s time to let your target audience know. According to CoSchedule’s marketing stats, marketers with a documented strategy are 313% more likely to report success.
Build a marketing strategy that’s relevant and consistent. We can’t stress enough how important this is. Without it, you’ll create confusion that pushes away possible leads.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think where and how they would like to learn about the services you offer.
The idea is to create a marketing bubble. One in which your target audience sees you as THE resource in your industry.