How To Market During A Recession | Live: It’s Not Magic. It’s Marketing with Shama.

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Speaker 1:

I don’t see it yet. Oh, there it is, on Facebook, so.

Speaker 2:

Hi there. Hey everyone. I’ll give everyone just a few seconds to get situated here. Please say hi in the comments if you are watching this live. If you are listening to the podcast later, drop me a message. I do love hearing from all of you. I’ve gotten some really thoughtful and kind notes through LinkedIn DMs and Instagram and so forth. So I’m so glad that you guys are enjoying the podcast and the content, so I’m really thrilled to do today’s. We’ve got Stephanie Chavez here as my co-host, helping me out, who is, well, my right hand in a lot of ways. But for the sake of this livestream slash podcast slash show, I don’t really know quite what we call it just yet, but she’s here fielding your questions. If you have questions, she’s the one trying to keep it all together. And yeah, the whole point of this is for you to be able to ask your questions and for me to try and help as many people as I can.

Speaker 2:

It came about from a mix of things. One of those things being that so many of you had questions that you would send me privately, and I thought this forum would be a lot easier of a way to connect with all of you and to be able to answer those questions, and hopefully build out our community even more. So every week we pick a topic, I talk about it, I share with you my thoughts, my feelings, my take on what’s happening. And then we open it up to your questions. So if you have questions on things around marketing, PR, B2B, please ask them. I will do my best to answer them. So today’s topic very specifically is the R word, and that’s the recession. That’s what we’re talking about today. And more specifically, how to market in a recession.

Speaker 2:

I think someone just asked, I’m sure you guys… I’ve got my chai. So as you know, I always bring my tea. You are welcome to bring yours or whatever helps you. I guess, if this is your evening, this does get broadcast across so many countries, so I don’t know what time zone you’re in. But I’m on the Eastern seaboard here in the US, so this is my second cup of chai for the day that gets me through it. Which for those who don’t know is pretty much black tea, milk, and sugar. So there’s my secret recipe. And for anyone who’s ever been to my house, you know we make this by the boatload and this is always the way we welcome our guests. So yeah, that’s what I’ve got, and if you’re wondering what I’m sipping on.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, I’m just looking at some of your questions from last time as well. I talked about this in my last article that I published for LinkedIn, which was, the recession is coming. I mean now, has it officially been dubbed that? No, but it doesn’t take… I mean, it really doesn’t take a scientist to look at numbers and look at tech stocks are dropping. We’ve had just some crypto is down, everything’s down across the board. And so this does mean that economic challenging times, call it whatever you want, they’re headed our way. Now, here’s the thing. I am never scared by a recession. In fact, I think it’s a little exciting, because it can be an advantage in so many ways. And I genuinely believe there’s not a bad economy or a good economy, I just think there’s different economies and different ways that you have to play your hand, given, it’s kind of like saying, do you like cold weather or do you like hot weather?

Speaker 2:

I don’t know. I’m a all four seasons kind of girl myself. I live in Miami, so it’s really hot or hotter or humid or humider. And before that my home state is Texas, so I don’t mind the heat at all. But look, I love the fall just as much as I love… Well, I’m lying. I really do love fall the most. It’s my favorite season. Halloween is hands down one of my favorite holidays. But you get my drift. The whole point is that there’s times and seasons for everything. And so the fact that a recession is coming is not a bad thing. In fact, I think it can open up lots of doors. I think we’ll see some great wins. I think we’ll see a lot of opportunities for the companies that are of course smart enough to act. Because what most companies do, and we know this because look, you don’t even have to say, oh, we haven’t had a recession in a long time. You can only look to the pandemic.

Speaker 2:

And if you look to the pandemic, you’ll see many of the same patterns, right? So people are uncertain and they throw on kind of their brakes and they say, oh, stop everything. Wait, what are we doing? And then of course, a quarter passes by, a couple of months pass by, and then they start to see, oh wait, why are our results hurting? Well, because you stopped doing the thing that was giving you the results. So then they start saying, okay, we should start things up again, but this time let’s be smarter, right? So this is the same cycle that we kind of see repeating over and over. But I think, again, I think it’s a great time to be in business. I think it’s a great time to be a marketer.

Speaker 2:

If you are a marketer that understands how your customers buy and are really a fan or understand how earned media, owned media, paid media, all of this works together, if you understand how dark social works, if you understand what it takes to create a category and generate demand, you’re going to be in demand. I think that’s sort of the bottom line, is if you understand how to take advantage of these wins, then I think you’re in a really good place. So I do think in some ways the talent squeeze will get a little easier and marketers that are really good are going to be even more in demand. So I think this is all good news. And so, okay, how do I know this? Where’s my experience coming from?

Speaker 2:

Well, some of you may know or may not know that I started Zen Media during the Great Recession. So it was actually called the worst recession since the Great Depression. So this was 2008, 2009. I was just graduating out of grad school and I had so many folks and companies at that time just say, there’s no jobs. It was a really, really tough market to get out and get into. But that’s when I started Zen Media. And look, despite all of that doom, gloom, whatever, in that first year we grew 400% alone. So it wasn’t like… I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I have the, I don’t want to say scars, but I’d say like the badges to prove it. So I know that I think there’s a lot of opportunity that the recession creates.

Speaker 2:

It does force you to get more creative. I think this is why, what I’m sharing is that if you are creative as a marketer and you exercise that creativity and you marry that with data, not just quantitative data, but qualitative data, asking your customers questions. How did they hear about you? How did they find you? Where do they spend their time? Who do they talk to? Who do they trust? All these things, that I think you will do really well. And so what happens is what we talked about. There’s companies that put on the brakes and then you go 90 days, a couple of months, and then they’re like, oh no, things are not working. What do we do? And then they realize, oh, because we stopped doing the things that did. Because again, it goes back to the title of this show and podcast, which is, it’s not magic, it’s marketing.

Speaker 2:

But I think now more than ever, it gets treated as such. So look, if you’re going to turn that off or really keep it to mild or just pull back in general, yeah, you may not see the effect right away, but I guarantee in a couple of months, you absolutely will. The cool thing is for the companies that do double down, there is so much opportunity. I’m actually reminded of one of our clients in the hospitality space, One Dine, which was primarily serving restaurants at the time. They were doing all kinds of… They have a full scale guest service solution for hospitality in general. But when COVID hit and when the pandemic came, that was a really tough time for them. Excuse me. I mean, overnight, they had so many restaurants shuttering. They didn’t know what the future looked like. Not just for their company, but for their customers itself, for the industry.

Speaker 2:

And I still remember, I got a call from the CEO late, like it was 11:00 PM my time. And those calls are never… You don’t generally call someone at 11:00 PM with good news. I don’t know, maybe you do if you’re me, because I’m a late night owl. But I think generally people don’t. So here I am thinking, all right, I’m going to take this call. I’m going to talk him down the ledge because he’s probably freaking out. And when I picked up, he said, “Listen, I think this is a great opportunity. How can we really be there for our customers right now, when they need us the most, right? What can we do?” So they actually made their solution available for free, for helping restaurants who had no technology, almost nothing, be able to deliver orders, take orders all remotely, deliver them in parking lots. And so it was the goodwill that they generated.

Speaker 2:

And listen, they made it through the pandemic, as did so many of their competitors didn’t. But what’s really interesting is now on the other side of it, their technology has been embraced, not just by restaurants, but by stadiums opening up, hotels. I mean, they actually have so much more market share now than they did before. And part of it was getting through that time, but not from a place of fear, but really from a place, and I think this is just a mindset thing, from a place of generosity. And saying, how can we support our customers? Thinking about it from a place of, how do we get our name out there more? Our technology can clearly help people who are facing this challenge.

Speaker 2:

And so I think that’s also a mindset thing, is if you can think about what does your product or service really solve? How can you be of service? Not just our services, right? Which is what everyone thinks about, how do we market our services? But the recession I think forces companies, smart companies to say, how can we be of service? And generally, doesn’t matter the economic times, when you ask a question like that, the answers that you get from yourself, from your team, from your customers are really the things that are often game changers and craft a brand new path for you. So that’s the kind of question that I would urge you to start asking yourself. One of my favorite quotes is by Warren Buffett. He said, “Opportunity comes infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble.”

Speaker 2:

So the other thing that we saw during the pandemic was advertising rates went down. So, so many opportunities opened up where, because their supply and demand dried up a little bit from companies that were scared or pulling back, they didn’t know what was happening. This is where other companies stepped up. So what happens is people and companies often fall into two buckets. There’s the thimble group. They get scared, they hoard, they pull back on key business drivers like marketing. And in the really short term, it does make them feel better, right? The numbers look better. They feel like they’re safe. But in near and long term, they face really tough consequences. And I’m not just talking about like brand value. I’m talking about revenue. I’m talking about hard numbers that eventually, as they look at their balance sheets and they look at their sales, they see the impact.

Speaker 2:

And then there’s the second group, which I call the get out the bucket group. This is my people. But this is where, when competitors get scared, they get braver, right? So they understand there’s some really good opportunities that come up. And this is where I think recessions honestly are a great time where people retire after these things. The whole adage is buy low, sell high, and so there’s some great opportunities to be had across the board. I think you just have to be really smart about it. So here’s what you can expect if you’re marketing in this landscape. Now, whether they rule it an official recession or whatnot, these are the things you need to know. And by the way, I’m not a huge fan of people say recession proof. There’s so many more variables to running a business than just marketing or PR. There’s a lot of things that go into that. There’s product, there’s your… One thing that does need to happen during a recession for companies to really thrive is that everything needs to be running well.

Speaker 2:

So customer success, your product teams, your sales teams, your marketing teams. There’s just a lot less room for error, right? When it comes to, oh, well something’s off. No, everything needs to be a little bit tighter, a little bit cleaner, just a little bit stronger. And everyone needs to be marching to the same drummer here is what I’m trying to say. So here’s the things that you can expect to see, right? Buyers in general will become a lot more discerning. So what does this mean? Again, this is what I’m talking about. The margin for error, where people… Generally, when you have any kind of climate of uncertainty, what you find is there’s more fear. Where there’s more fear, people need more certainty, they need more security. They’re less likely to do things on a whim, or they just need more proof, more reassurance.

Speaker 2:

And so one of the things I’ve talked about before as well is look, they’re not even looking for the cheapest solution. I think often there’s a fallacy of, oh, if we’re not the cheapest, that… No, people don’t want the cheapest. That stopped a long time ago. If you see Google results, it’s actually really fascinating to see the data, is that when the internet first came out, you saw people looking for cheapest, like cheap whatever. Those were the things they were… From cheap IT solutions to cheap CRM SaaS, that was sort of the go to. What you see in much more recent days, and by recent days, I mean recent years, is they’re looking more and more for the best. So they’re looking for the best IT solution. They’re looking for the best CRM. They’re looking for best marketing, best PR. They’re not looking for cheap. They want best value.

Speaker 2:

So these are the things that I think you’ll have to really think about and say, knowing that our buyers are discerning, knowing that it’s going to take more reassurance, knowing that it’s going to take more third party credibility, what are we doing about that? The other thing we can definitely expect to see is that sales cycles are going to get longer. That’s just a thing. Again, why? Because buyers are getting more discerning, so they don’t want to make mistakes. They take a little bit longer to do their due diligence. And part of what you’re also going to see is that whoever’s defacto market leader in the marketplace is going to win more and more the business. And it’s not about who’s the best, it’s simply about who’s perceived to be the best.

Speaker 2:

So if the perception is that your competitor is a better choice than you are, you’re going to lose business to your competitor. But if the perception is that you are the safer choice, so safety becomes a very crucial theme element across the board. How can you show your prospects, your customers, that you are the safest choice? I mean, there’s nowhere you see this more than in B2B. Again, part of that isn’t just what you say about yourself, but all these decisions that get made in dark social, where you don’t see them. In LinkedIn DMs and Slack channels and WhatsApp groups, in Telegram groups, this is where all these conversations are occurring. Part of what will happen is when you don’t see that for a long time, some companies and marketers might begin to feel like it’s not working. So that’s why it’s so important to understand how people are making these buying decisions. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean that it’s not working.

Speaker 2:

I also think, and we already started seeing this, I thought it was kind of fascinating. I noticed this, but there’ll be a real rebalancing that occurs within organizations that are just so sales heavy. Right now at a lot of B2B companies, what marketers do is sales, but it’s called marketing. True marketing is a whole different thing. And so I think what’s going to happen is these departments, these organizations are going to have to even out a little bit, because they’re going to realize that contact info doesn’t mean a lead. You can’t just drag people caveman style, right? And say, here’s your lead. You’re going to have to let marketing drive sales. So this means that we will actually see a shift, I believe, from a little bit more of the hard sales to more marketing. I’m not saying people aren’t going to try the hard sales. They will, and they’ll realize it’s really not working, and then they’ll start to reevaluate. So this is good. People will ask questions and more will get allocated to customer success and product, marketing, PR, which is all good. I think a rebalancing needs to occur.

Speaker 2:

And this was in many ways of everything that I’m sharing with you, this was sort of my hypothesis, that I thought that shift will occur. But when I saw all the tech layoffs that have been happening, Bolt, for example, many of their HR folks have been putting together spreadsheets and air tables of folks that have lost their position or have been laid off for anybody else that might be looking for talent, which I think is a wonderful idea. Way to use power or crowdsourcing for good. But what I thought was fascinating is as I was looking at that data, so many of the positions that were cut were actually in sales. And so I do think there will be more sales talent available too in the marketplace. And if you are in sales, I think it’s a really good time to get acquainted with digital selling and broaden the way you think about sales beyond just, if all you’ve done is outbound and that’s your thing, you are going to have to start looking a little bit more broadly.

Speaker 2:

Again, thinking about putting yourself in the shoes of your customers, asking those top questions, how do they prefer to buy? How are you selling? What’s that disconnect? And how can you bridge that? If you ask these types of questions, I promise you’ll have so much more success than your competitors who may not be asking those questions. And speaking of questions, I think one thing that will get questioned is assumptions. So we saw this during the pandemic too, which is really ultimately a good thing, right? Again, you see kind of two buckets. You see companies that go into what you always do when there is a potential uncertain situation. You lock down, pull back. These are some very patterned behaviors you can see.

Speaker 2:

I think smart companies, they’ll start asking more questions. Do we really need to be spending this much on Google AdWords? Do we really have to go to that trade show? And we saw this again during the pandemic, where people said, do we really need to go to that trade show? Or in many cases, if those trade shows went away completely or events, people asked themselves, where else can we engage? How do we get these leads? Why does our competitor… This is one we hear a lot. Why does our competitor get more press than we do? Well, because they’ve actually invested in PR. So if you do these things, you too shall have press. I think you see a lot of these questions being asked. That’s a good thing. So we don’t just default into behavior as well, this is what we’ve always done. It’s always been all sales driven and marketing comes second. Or marketing is really a on demand collateral center for sales.

Speaker 2:

And so asking these questions is good. Now, as a marketer, what I would urge you to do is start asking these questions of yourself and your team before your CEO does, before your board does. I think that’s so important because if they come to you with these questions, and very likely they may, one, you’ll already have answers to these questions. And two, if you’re actually thinking about these questions first, it shows a certain proactiveness that I think healthy companies really appreciate. Now I say healthy companies because listen, I talk to a lot of marketers and it makes me sad when I see some really good marketers working in companies that I don’t know if they’re ever going to get it or appreciate what they’re bringing to the table. So if you find yourself in that sort of scenario, I’ll be really honest with you and say that you should consider another opportunity.

Speaker 2:

Because part of marketing, to be able to do your best work, certain forces have to align. The leadership has to get it. The mindset has to be there. They have to be open to how you measure it. They have to be open to understanding how earned media works, how shared works, why owned is as important as it is, how dark social functions. And if they’re not open, so no one understands all of this all the time and things change very quickly, but as long as they’re open to understanding this, they’re open to being educated, then I think you’re solid. So I’ve talked about this. I think that the three marketing shifts become even more pronounced. So the splitting of social and media, where social is your inner circle, these are people you talk to, you trust. Media is things you consume, even from strangers, that all the consumption that occurs. Then you’ve got sort of dark social, which the decisions that are being made are not in front of your face, they’re happening where you can’t track them. Software can’t track them. Does not mean that they’re not happening.

Speaker 2:

And the third is the idea of that messy middle, that if you guys have heard me talk before, or if you haven’t, definitely check out the earlier podcast I did on that. Because I talk about, and this was all based on Google’s research, which is, God bless them. They spend millions of dollars on this stuff, so why not learn from it? And they talk about how decisions are made and then there’s a trigger point. And then folks are evaluating and exploring options and then they buy. And the one thing they found hands down was the miasma around this whole process is exposure. The more your brand is out there. So if you’ve again, heard me before, you know I say recall drives revenue, and 95% of your target market is not in the market to buy right now. For B2B especially, they’re just, they’re not in the market.

Speaker 2:

So if all you’re doing is focusing on that 5%, man, that is going to be a losing battle because very soon, you’re not even going to be able to have that data, right? More and more of that is going to go into dark social, where you can’t see it, you can’t track it. So how do you even know which 5%? Focusing on that 95% or ignoring them, you really do so at your own peril. So anyway, so these are the big shifts that I see happening when it comes to how businesses change during a recession, the role marketing plays, and I hope that this information helps you. I hope that as you’re listening or watching this, that you have some good takeaways of how you need to approach your marketing and come at it from just a different angle.

Speaker 2:

Because I think by the end of it, because look, all recessions end. Eventually we’ll get back to a bull market again. That’s really where you’re going to see the results. And one of the other things I’ve talked about, I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about it on the live or podcast, but I certainly have in my keynotes, is this idea that good marketing is like a jaguar effect. It’s the thing in stealth. So if you see a jaguar, it doesn’t chase after its prey right away. Most of its time is spent in stealth mode. And so when it does have its prey in sight, it just takes off. And so companies spend so much money on trying to be innovative or look at the thing that’s really going to help them 10X or whatnot. Well, if you do marketing and PR right, it’s really going to be the thing that gives you that advantage. But it’s the patience, the jaguar effect, and that does mean having all your Is dotted, your Ts crossed.

Speaker 2:

So when you have that moment, you’re really able to take off. And there is, I mean, if you’re familiar with Malcolm Gladwell’s work on the tipping point, it’s very similar to that. You’re doing all of this, you’re building, and eventually you hit a certain point where customers are seeking you out. People are wanting to work with your company. And that is quite an impressive shift. So anyways, so let me pause there. Steph, I’ve been talking a mile a minute, but hopefully it resonates. And yeah, let’s take some questions.

Speaker 1:

Sure. We have a question from Shaun. He thinks essentially that recession is good for trimming the fat and being focused, but he wants to know how bad you think the recession will get?

Speaker 2:

Look, I’m not an economist. So Shaun, thank you for your question. I guess what I’m trying to say is it doesn’t matter how bad it gets. In fact, the worse something gets, the more opportunities open up. So look, I’m not saying, wow, we really need a terrible recession here, but obviously something needs to counteract inflation, and so these are factors that are outside our control. The way I even approach my life is boxes. Things I can control and things I can’t. So how long the recession lasts, who knows. How bad does it get? I don’t know. But I also like to think, despite all of that, what do I know to be true? What are things I can control? So these are the things I know, that the question that you’re asking is what all your buyers are asking.

Speaker 2:

Is it going to get really bad? Should we be… And I’m not saying you’re saying this in particular, but should we be scared? Should we pull back? And I think cutting the fat is such an interesting phrase because I don’t think most companies even know what the difference is between fat and what’s actually helpful. I feel like it’s similar to diet fads or whatnot. I feel like every other year I read something where it’s like, sugar’s bad for you. Nope, sugar’s good. Nope, fat’s bad for you. Wait a second, fat is good. So look, I think the questions of how long does this recession last, what’s happening, I don’t know, man. My guess is as good as anybody’s guess.

Speaker 2:

The things I do know, buyers are discerning. There really needs to be a shift happening towards third party credibility. Sales cycles are going to get longer because people have all these questions. When we have questions and uncertainty, everything takes longer. We make decisions slower. Things will have to run a lot more in sync. I think when times are, like when you’re on a upswing, you can have kind of a break between customer success and product or your marketing can be eh, but your sales can help pick up the slack or vice versa. In recessionary times, everything needs to be a little tighter. It needs to run more in sync. So I think in that way, rather than cutting the fat, I think it’s better to ask, what is expendable? And part of that starts with, what have we always done traditionally? And question some of those assumptions.

Speaker 2:

I think for a lot of companies, it’ll be adding things. It’ll be doing things they haven’t done before. As allotted as PR is in the B2C world and accepted as it is, B2B still has a long ways to go in understanding what it means to really engage, not just with traditional media, but influencers. Understanding how dark social works, how people engage. I mean, these are the kind of questions that I hope people start asking. And look, you just have to ask your clients, you just have to ask your prospects, how do they make decisions? What do they read? Who are they influenced by? It’s not rocket science. But I do think we have an unhealthy obsession with analytics, with numbers, that everything needs to be trackable. And I don’t think everything is trackable. Now, the things that matter, sure.

Speaker 2:

And so I guess I’m a big proponent of qualitative research and asking your customers questions and just looking. Look around, see how people are making decisions. When I graduated in ’08, when I started the company right out of grad school and into the recession, I thought social media was going to be huge. I thought this is… Twitter had 2,000 users and I was stoked. I was thinking, wow, companies are going to be lining up for this stuff. And man, it was quite a… It was an interesting wake up call because I remember talking to companies and they would look at me like I was crazy. They said, what is Twitter? Forget business, we don’t see this ever playing a role in anything that we do. Facebook is the thing my 13 year old uses. It just opened up to colleges. We see no value in this. And many of these companies were the same ones that thought the internet was a fad. I can’t tell you, oh my God, if I had a penny for every time someone told me social media is a fad. This is a fad.

Speaker 2:

It’s just, yeah, it’s kind of baffling to me. I think in retrospect, I also had the opportunity and kind of the advantage of being in grad school. And so my job was literally to observe, right? Like look around, attend things, which is why I think so much cool stuff does come from academia. Not that it always makes its way as fast or efficiently downstream, but I think that’s sort of fascinating, is to be able to look at the research that comes out and say, what does this predict? What does this tell us? And for me, the writing was really clear on the wall. I was baffled when I went to these corporations and said, where do I sign up? I want to work in this. And they said, work in what? We don’t have a department for that. The industry didn’t exist.

Speaker 2:

I think people are always kind of shocked when I tell them that when I got out, the reason I couldn’t get a job out of grad school. I had a masters in organizational communication and technology, a 4.2 GPA. I don’t even know how that happens. Okay. But I had a stellar GPA. I was so pumped. I had my thesis on Twitter. I thought I was hot stuff getting out of school. And let me tell you, it was a cold bucket of ice water that corporate America dumped on me as I got out and said, wow, come on. Who wants this talent? And all I got was crickets. I mean, 18 job interviews, guys. I went on 18 job interviews, only to be rejected. Not because they didn’t have jobs. I mean sure, recession, whatever. But because the industry didn’t exist.

Speaker 2:

I remember going to South By, there were 200 people at interactive. It was just, I know it seems so foreign today, but that’s how it was. And so, yeah, I think it’s just really interesting to have that lens. And if you just look around, if you just stop to see, how do people actually make buying decisions? What actually influences them? And it’s, by the way, I also think it’s interesting, because people love to say outbound is dead, inbound is in, blah, blah. No, it’s not. People often assume that I think cold email is a terrible way to get business. Not at all. Here’s the thing. I’m not emotional about any of this. I’m not attached to one way or the other. I simply like to look at what works for your customers. What are they engaging with?

Speaker 2:

And so does cold email work? Yeah, absolutely. Does it work in a silo? No. People are not dumb. They go Google that stuff, they ask their colleagues, they do their homework in dark social. So whether you get a response or not is not just totally on the basis of that. There’s the 95/5 rule. Are they in the market? Are they not? If they’re not in the market for your services, it doesn’t matter how many cold emails you send. You’re not going to immediately get them. They’re just, they’re not in the market. So anyways, thank you for that question, Shaun. Obviously I had a very long answer for you, but hopefully helpful and answered what you were looking for.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, Shama. The next one is from Norm. So he wants to know what to do, because his boss has already cut his budget for marketing. So what should he do?

Speaker 2:

Get another job, Norm. Get another job. Norm’s going to hate me. If Norm’s boss is listening, bro, give this guy his budget back. What are you doing? So this actually proves my point, where I was saying that there are companies that are cutting budgets already, which is fine. What I find fascinating though is they’re going to do this. They’re going to go 90 days, 120 days, and then they’re going to be like, Norm, where are my results? And Norm’s going to be like, you cut my budget. You took away what I was doing. So what did you expect? Yeah, again, this goes back to it’s not magic, it’s marketing. It takes resources. I did a post on LinkedIn today where I was talking about, look, it’s always time or money. I get asked all the time, if we’re a startup, what should we do? We don’t have tons of money. How do we market?

Speaker 2:

Good. You got what everybody else does, time, 24 hours in the day. So that’s what you do. You use time. When you scale and you get to a certain point and you have more money than time, you hire people to do it. I mean, again guys, not rocket science here. So Norm, I’m going to tackle your question a few ways because there’s so many variables that I don’t really know about. What did they cut it from? I mean, if you went from like a $20 million budget to a 15 mil, I think you’ll still be okay. If they cut it from 5 to 100K then yeah, I’d be looking at some LinkedIn job boards. So I think it depends on what the expectations are. Look, in certain companies, marketing is very much treated as a stepchild, a secondary. It is a demand collateral center for sales. And so I don’t know what your function is, what your outcomes are, or what your goals are.

Speaker 2:

So I will say this. I mean, I think creativity is underrated. I think explaining this, that all right, if we’re cutting budget, things are going to take longer. We need time. Whether it’s more people or more time from one person, again, there’s not a magic formula here. I don’t want to tell you, oh, you can still get great results. If I was in your shoes, I would really, really work on that qualitative data and start calling your customers, your clients, how are they finding you? What convinces them to buy from you? Doing this is just going to be such a massive difference because then you can take the budget that you do have and you can focus on one or two things. Channels maybe, maybe it’s LinkedIn, that’s where all your clients are or that’s where your prospects are, and double down on that channel. So you may have to get a little more streamlined. So yeah. So I think creativity, I think streamline some of your activities.

Speaker 2:

But rather than cutting things across the board, which is so common because everyone says, oh, we’re just going to cut everything by 20%, never made sense to me. Much better to look at the overall picture and just look at your customers, your prospects, how are they finding you? What’s your differentiator? What’s your third party credibility like? What makes you stand out? And doing a better job telling that story itself. So yeah, Norm, I’m trying to answer your question without having a lot of data, but at least I hope that’s helpful in framing in that way. So that’s where I would start.

Speaker 2:

I would start with your customers, your data, not just quantitative, because you’re going to be so limited, because when you look, it’ll just say Google direct, Google direct. It’s not actually going to tell you anything. You’ve got to just start picking up the phone, calling your customers, calling your clients, doing some real world Sherlock Holmes level sleuthing to see what moves the needle for them and then choose one or two of those platforms and double down there. That’s going to give you way better bang for your buck if your budget’s been cut.

Speaker 1:

Thank you, Shama. And Izubair, I apologize if I mispronounced your name, he just had a really good statement, which I love as a PR company. He said use the time to scale by personally branding your business through earned media, which I know is something we’ve seen a lot of with CEOs and C-suite executives really coming out there and putting themselves out there to brand their business.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Great statement, and thanks, Steph. Yeah. Look, this goes back to time or money, right? If your leadership is not taking a platform, if they’re not using their voice, then that’s such a missed opportunity. And people think that you have to be gregarious or extroverted. Not at all. I think you just need to have content and a perspective and things that resonate with your target market, so it still goes back to that same thing. And yeah, look, you are going to see a much more discerning buyer and so that means your share of voice matters. It means what someone else says about you, whether it’s Ink or Forbes or someone’s favorite podcast host or peers, I mean, what colleagues of your prospects say to them, that’s just going to matter a lot more than it has in the past.

Speaker 2:

So absolutely. I mean, building up your thought leadership, I don’t think that’s a bonus anymore. I don’t think it’s like, oh, you get bonus points for doing it. I think it is a key tool in the arsenal that you should, by all means, utilize. Because it’s just, it goes beyond even your getting your customers, right? It’s about your employees and your team and who do they want to work with? Often I get asked by especially young marketers when they’re looking at two jobs and they’re like, I’m comparing between company A and company B and here’s the package. And I always tell them the same thing. I say, forget the package. I mean, they’re more or less, there’s not a huge difference there. Competitive salary is a competitive salary. What you’re really looking for is who do you get to work with? Who is your manager? Who is your leadership? Do they care about their people? How do they show up for you? Do you think this is someone who will mentor you, help you, really someone that you would be able to look up to and learn from?

Speaker 2:

Or are you just going to be a cog in the wheel? And that’s how I would make those decisions. So I always make that same recommendation. It’s not the what, it’s the who. It’s who you’re working with. It’s who your people are and who’s really going to be open to your ideas. And like I said, it goes back to so much to about mindset and leadership and true leadership. Look, just having a title after your name doesn’t make you a leader. I think this is so much more about how you show up for your people. How you think about things. How you approach the world. Leadership to me is a much broader philosophy than it is to do anything with the title. So anyways, one more question, Steph, for you answered that you didn’t really ask about, but choose jobs based on the people, not the titles. And I think all of that is really secondary.

Speaker 1:

The last question is from Emily. What’s the best way to know where I should spend the budget?

Speaker 2:

Good question, Emily. So similarly, as I mentioned earlier to the earlier folks, your customers, start there. Your prospects, ask, ask, ask. How do they make decisions? Where do they get their news? What publications do they read? Who do they follow on LinkedIn? What do they trust? What podcast do they listen to? Who are they influenced by? Those are the areas. That’s where you got to show up. And by the way, there’s going to be things that are specific to your audience and then there’s going to be stuff that’s true across the board for just how modern buyers buy. I had a very fascinating conversation today with a prospect. They’re in the retail sector and we do a ton of B2B and tech driven B2B. And their CEO, the head of marketing was talking to me and said their CEO said, “We’ve got to have a forum that does just retail media. That’s it, just retail media.”

Speaker 2:

And I said, okay. Well, there’s no problem with just focusing on retail media if you feel like that’s where your prospects are, that’s what they’re looking at. Great. But I said, but understand this, the journalists, the media that you’re referring to that work for these retail publications and trade pubs, they’re not full timers. More than 60% of them have multiple gigs. That’s just one of their freelance jobs, right? Many of them write for five or six publications. So it’s not like you’ve got these full time people with their neat quaffed hairstyles, like ’50s style, sitting in a long row of desks typing away and ready to talk about your company. No, I mean, this is what I mean by you also got to look at macro. How do people communicate? How do they make decisions?

Speaker 2:

The power of dark social, this idea of messy middle, how social and media are splitting. Understanding the macro and then layering on the things that you know about your verticals that are specific to your customers. We work with just such fascinating clients and we have good intel. Like for example, if they sell to doctors, right, or physicians, they know, hey, physicians, these are the conferences they may attend. These are the associations our physicians are part of, whatever. That’s layered in. That’s wonderful. Know that information, but the macro is physicians are still individuals. They’re still using and making decisions and using technology like you and I. Keeping I think both these things in mind, that’s what should really be driving your budget.

Speaker 2:

And understanding these things like the 95/5 rule. If your whole budget is going towards getting that 5%, that’s going to be tough. You’ve got to think about it in that balance, right? Being able to obviously capture the people that are looking for you, but also being able to establish yourself as a category leader, and how are you going to approach that? So, great question, Emily. Thanks Steph. Thank you so much for being my wing woman on this. I’m all about Top Gun right now because I just saw the movie and it was so good. Yeah man, Tom Cruise did a fantastic job. That was a really well done movie. I won’t give away spoilers. So if you haven’t seen it, check it out. I thought it was really cool. Some good business lessons in there, but maybe I’ll definitely wait a minute to talk about it so I don’t ruin it for anyone.

Speaker 2:

Thanks so much for joining us guys. And we’ll do this again. We do this weekly. Join us, leave us your questions. Again, we’re asking the same question I am asking you to ask of yourself, which is, how can I be of service? How can you be of service? And I feel like that’s really, at the end of the day, what’s going to move the needle for you across the board, regardless of your vertical or client base. All right. Until next time.

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