Messaging in a Recession Economy

I was talking with a friend the other day on the phone when he received an email message from a vendor he works with and he immediately reacted with “Yea right, that’s NOT what I need right now.”  It got me thinking about the messages we are sending to our customers and subscriber lists and how they may be feeling these days.

I think many of us are in a more sensitive mood and we really don’t want to hear what we don’t want to hear.  Shortly after, I stumbled over an article on MediaPost that talked about how consumer messaging is changing to better align with feelings of buyers.  While a few didn’t really translate to our B2B market, some did.  Let’s take a look:

1. “Save Now” is the new “Buy Now.” In a nice twist, some retailers are dropping the ubiquitous “Buy Now” button and replacing it with a “Save Now” call-to-action. For instance, in a March 20 email, Kmart promoted a $70 savings on a GPS with a “Save Now” button, and JC Whitney also used that CTA in a Jan. 27 email. Another spin on this idea is the CTA to “print in-store coupons,” which JCPenney used in a March 20 email, for example. Many consumers are not in a buying mood right now, but many are in a saving mood.

I would agree with this, many consumers are not in a buying mood but are in a saving mood.  For tech marketers, we’ve always struggled with “saving” type messages like “Decrease production costs” and “Reduce production time” and backing it up with hard facts like a consumer spin can offer.  But it is prudent of us to sit back for a minute, and put ourselves in our customers and prospective buyer shoes.

  • What are they facing in their companies? Budget cuts, personnel cuts?
  • How secure are they feeling in their job? Probably not very secure.
  • Is there something our products and services can do to ease those fears?

I do think “Save Now” is a positive message that can comes across as a benefit to a reader vs. a pressure to buy.  Usually in tech, sales starts with the real firesales when approaching year end deadlines.  All the deals start coming out.  So I wonder if now is the time to start thinking of these “packages” that will allow our customers to save money, and help them get to a better place in their business.  Sales cycles are slow, so let’s think about what we can do to help our customers Save Now, and not wait for later to come.

4. As good as new. I’ve seen many more retailers promoting products that have been refurbished or reconditioned. For example, in a March 10 email, TigerDirect directly aligned refurbs with the ailing economy with a newspaper design that announces that “Refurbs Saved the Economy!” In the same vein, Musician’s Friend has promoted scratch and dent sales, and Home Depot has promoted tool rentals.

This is something many automation companies who sell hardware can offer your customers.  Do you offer refurbished parts?  Is there a trade-in program happening that a customer can participate in?  Now would be the time.  It’s going to be much harder to sell a brand spanking new system, so why not take a different approach for generating revenues?

There were a couple other suggestions in this article that applied and are things we’ve talked about before with managing communications when times are challenging:

6. Better targeting with better information. Looking to up the performance of their email lists, a few retailers are looking to collect additional demographic and preference data from subscribers to better target them with offers and content.

7. Maintain engagement. For those subscribers who just aren’t in the market for your products right now, keep them engaged with content so that you and your products are top-of-mind when things improve.

What messages are you using in your communications and are they working? Do tell, we’d love to talk more about messages or approaches that are working in your business.

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