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Strategy & Planning Updated on: Nov 7, 2022

SMARTER: 7 Action items to power your company through difficult times

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2020 has been a year of unprecedented, unexpected challenges. And no corner of the globe or market has gone untouched. You can say these are “difficult times”.

In these times, it’s critical that you remain calm in the midst of a storm. I'm going to show you seven action items to do to power your company through these times, and come out on top.

I call this approach "SMARTER". 

Let’s jump in! 

1. Stay consistent

There are two big things to consider when you’re evaluating your business strategy: marketing budget and cash flow. As difficult times approach, companies (and your competitors) will instinctively spend less, which means the cost to advertise is also decreasing. To capitalize on this, don’t cut back on ad spend or marketing budget. This way, you’ll be able to capture more mind share for the same amount of money. 

Cash flow is something to be considerate of for your own unique situation. Of course, cash flow is the bloodline of your business, so with regards to staying consistent, it's important to know at what cost. Ultimately, it's about seeing a better return, whether it's expanding your reach, generating more leads, or even Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) - if they are not ready to buy now, they will be later as you nurture them down the funnel, and you will be first in line for a vendor partnership.

However, if you work closely with your investors, this is a very valuable piece of information about staying consistent, extracting more value from the market and taking advantage of hard times as your competitors and other companies are cutting down in budget.

Wondering where you should begin investing for marketing efforts, or struggling to amp up its impact? Download your own B2B SaaS Marketing Budget now.

2. Mind-map your customer base

You can learn a lot about your future opportunities just by examining your current customers. Here, the goal is to extract data from your customer base and identify trends that will point you in the right direction to finding your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), and best-fit for your product or service offering. 

When dissecting your customer base, you might consider the following customer elements and track each detail in a spreadsheet or by producing reports in your CRM:

  1. Company size
  2. Revenue generated
  3. Return on Investment 
  4. Potential ROI for you per the client
  5. Job roles
  6. NPS/customer satisfaction
  7. Employees per industry
  8. Industry 

When analyzing your customer landscape, ask yourself: “are there certain parts of the market where I already have a position? “

You’ll notice your “beachheads,” or where you have the most potential -- whether this is a specific industry or a specific group of people that have a really high NPS score. Once you’ve identified where your beachheads are, you can allocate more resources and time toward capturing similar customers. This will deliver a stronger product-market fit, thus earning better ROI. Your beach heads might also look like your ICP or Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM), so pay attention to the specific factors that impact your customer base and satisfaction rates.

Regardless of what you discover, you're going to collect a lot of data. Use this time to position your customers and get an idea of where you’re generating the most revenue or profitability, or simply seeing the most success. In short, observe your current customer landscape and use that information to make data-backed strategic decisions for your next steps. 

3. Analyze your industries

Market expansion is a big element of your future marketing strategy to consider, and analyzing your current fit is important during hard times because you will often come across industries that are unaffected or positively impacted, opening new doors for opportunity and creating new market opportunities that others haven’t yet capitalized on or uncovered.

This doesn’t mean analyzing your own customer base and industries -- this means analyzing the industries that you could be a fit for. This includes the broader industries, whether you have current customers there or not. Break your industry analysis into three main categories and better define the companies with which you’ll have the highest likelihood of success through best product-market-fit. 

  • Total addressable market (TAM): Your TAM is the entire market you’re servicing, the solution you provide, and the audience that benefits from your solution. 
  • Serviceable addressable market (SAM): Your SAM is how you’re able to address the specific needs of some parts of this market better than other parts of the market. We often call this a product-market fit. To find out where you have best seen SAM, see if there are places in that market where your existing customers are loyal to you, buying more, or are extremely satisfied with what you’re providing. 
  • Serviceable obtainable market (SOM): Your SOM is the obtainable market for your organization -- if you have limited resources, your SOM is the most attainable, low-friction path toward success. Your SOM should have the best product-market fit, the happiest customers and the best outcomes overall. 

These are great opportunities because they’re definitely not cutting budget or scaling back, and therefore will be investing in solutions like yours. So when you have a solution that's going to serve companies that are benefiting from difficult times, staying consistent in marketing strategy and understanding where you’re generating the most success, in addition to understanding potential opportunities outside of your existing customer base will give you the momentum to keep growing amidst difficulty.

Watch our webinar to find out more about TAM, SAM and SOM.

4. Ramp up your content

When you think of industries, business operations and difficult times in general, hindsight is always 20/20. It's easy to look back and to say, "I wish I would have done more during those times when everyone was being conservative, when everyone was doing this, that, and the other."

Investors like Carl Icahn have made their entire fortune off taking advantage of these types of situations, doubling down on investments when everyone thinks it's going to take a downturn. When things are good, people think it's going to be good forever and they put money in. When it's bad, they think it's going to be bad forever, and they just cut back. This is where you see those trends as other market factors and external influencers dip, and then come back up. There's always an opportunity where those dips happen, where you can double down and make the most of your time.

Creating content for your search engine optimization strategy and lead nurturing is a time-consuming development process that requires patience. Creating solid content that your target audiences will get value out of isn’t just an overnight process, and it often takes even longer to gain the traction that will ultimately make a piece of content successful. Building domain authority, creating value-rich content and attracting your personas organically takes time and volume, so the more you work toward ramping up content now, you’re steps ahead of your competitors. 

While everyone is being conservative, cutting back on ad spend, letting off employees and everything else in between, you should go on the offensive. And so when you look at ramping up content and boosting your strategy, whether it's focusing on video or blog creation, all of these resources will cost you. However, if you do these things during difficult times, this will feed into thinking long term and emphasizing strategy, and set you up for longitudinal success.

5. Think long-term

Draw attention to the things that you know you need, but just never have the time to do. These are the things that you've always wished for, like "I wish I would have focused on my SEO strategy." 

Use these differentiators to feed them into your strategy overall. "I wish I would have deployed a nice content calendar that maps to my overall strategy. I wish I would have written the ebook, the definitive guide to my specialty. I wish I would have prepped or planned for a webinar." Envision those really big pieces of strategic assets that will feed into your long-term growth, or the content that will be “evergreen,” and start executing.

These assets usually take a lot of time and often generate a very long trickling effect of value. It’s also important to think about people just during difficult times because they may have additional time free, including yourself, to do these various awesome things, but people are spending more time on YouTube, watching webinars, downloading and consuming content, and furthering their own education. 

Maybe there are people in your space that were laid off from work because of company budget cuts -- this is something to consider because there’s always value you can add to people's lives, whether it's to businesses or to individuals themselves. 

This leads to the next point about adding value to individuals: embodying strength.

6. Embody strength

As a leader, this is very important. The world is facing a lot of uncertainty right now and during difficult times, and people are asking a lot of questions. It sometimes feels like nobody knows what’s going on, they fear for their job security and their bosses are probably frustrated. Or, they're hearing their peers and colleagues tell their own difficult stories.

Keep in mind that during hard times, you need to show your strength as a leader to demonstrate that your company is the right place to be. It’s a leader’s responsibility to help their people feel secure. How you demonstrate your strength during difficult times is a reflection of not just yourself as an individual, but yourself as a company. Your actions give your employees confidence in you and your company, and it attracts the right type of talent who are looking for a company like yours, not just for financial security, but just the fact that you are a trusted individual. When you're a trusted company, you're a trusted thought leader. That’s a significant part of your business thing that money cannot buy -- all it takes is just a great attitude.

Social distancing starts to have an effect on individuals' personal relationships with friends, families and coworkers. So if you focus this strength and put it into your company culture, this will pay off in the long run. Don’t forget about long-term thinking -- it comes back full circle. Focus on your company, yourself, and keep doing what you're doing because there are many different pieces that come together. 

7. Review your tech stack

In these times, you've probably had to make some budget and allocation changes. When you review your tech stack, you’re simply seeing what your company is doing. Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What is my commercial operating system made up of?
  • Can I even integrate the tools that we’re using?
  • Do I have the right tracking and attribution so I can make the right investments and decisions going forward?
  • What other systems am I investing in?
  • What can I consolidate? 
  • Is there anything that’s not working for my organization? 
  • Have any new tools or technologies emerged recently that I could leverage?

At Kalungi, we're big proponents of HubSpot because it’s capable of so much. This article explains how we look at your commercial operating system and what we recommend, but make sure you have the above questions in mind. Perform an audit of all your systems, and keep scalability and integration in mind. Think long-term. 

Given the shifts brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, the entire world is now working remotely. It’s time to ask yourself, “How is my remote technology helping my business? What tools am I using that are going to facilitate the best remote work experience? What processes, what rules am I putting in place?” Not rules as in restrictions, but rather enabling guidelines to enable a better company culture. This could be as easy as requiring video for every single client-facing meeting, or for every internal-facing meeting. When you've lost the physical in the office, you have to emulate that remotely to retain your company culture.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with Slack. There are so many diverse integration options with Slack, and consider the scale of integration -- what's Slack going to be integrating with? At Kalungi, we love Slack -- we're a Slack and Zoom house, so we’re slightly biased. But take those questions into consideration, and then evaluate what's going to work best for your own unique work ecosystem.

Next Steps

During difficulties, it’s time to buckle down and dig your heels in. I hope this guide has given you direction or insight into where to take your next steps, and emerge stronger (and smarter) than ever. 

Let us know if you have any questions, feedback, or other tips on how you are powering through -- we are more than happy to help. You can reach out to contact@kalungi.com, or you can reach out to me personally on fadi@kalungi.com

See you on the internet. :)

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