By Tiffani Robinson, IP&L Guest Speaker 2018 | Digital Marketing Expert
First, let me state that no one organization is necessarily recession-proof just like there are no zero-calorie foods. What do I mean? There are some healthy alternatives that cause your body to work harder to digest OR burn more calories than your food intake, therefore, minimizing weight gain. Just like calories, you want your money to work harder for you and stretch, making you sustainable during times of starvation… or a recession. Cyclical trends will show that a recession is coming. Job and stock markets on the rise, cost of living increasing, not a great influx of the USD and wages don’t seem to match the rise of this booming economy.
Now, these business strategies are not just exclusive for nonprofits but startups of any size and structure as well. I chose to focus on nonprofits because of their high dependency on charitable donations and/or grants. Other markets heavily influenced by a volatile economy such as retail, entertainment, and travel and leisure all are directly predicated on consumer behaviors. Although the strategies listed can’t ensure you won’t become subject to the effects of an economic downturn, it can save you time until markets begin to turn in a favorable direction.
1. Keep Overhead Low
The best way to not get into a hole is to not create one. With vertical organizational structures, overhead is a passive concern until the books are turned upside down. NFL teams cut overhead costs to fit cap space so quickly you don’t have enough time to purchase the jersey of your favorite player before he’s been traded or released. They value output more than experience in some cases and positions. Most coaches are willing to bet on a rookie they can mold, keeping in mind the value in longevity he might get than the experience of a more riskier 10-year plus veteran with more mileage and not-so extended career. As an executive, consider hiring paid interns or entry-level talent fresh out of college or trade-school who can perform cross-functional tasks. Not only can you cultivate their talents, but you are also getting relevant industry insight from what they just learned during their studies.
Also, before you put massive layoffs on the table, take the time to train some of your more experienced employees who seem more adaptable to change to increase overall output. The investment could have lasting (recession-proof) impressions for your organization as a whole.
2. Increase Your Value… Respectively
You are probably wondering why I said “respectively.” If I am in the market and I come across my perfect home, more than likely, I am going to put a bid on the house. This could potentially lead into a bidding war between myself and a prospect in which you would understandably increase the value following the laws of supply and demand. I will be willing to up my bid until it reaches an untouchable limit, where I am forced to bow out. When dealing with consumers in a downward economy, most would be reluctant to make any carefree purchases, expenses, or contributions until they see the value but, even then, you are playing roulette. Presenting value does not come when things are down… they start at your inception. Keeping donors or investors informed of their contributions through measurable results builds credibility and trust people work hard to establish.
Also, by illustrating how much of an asset you are to the community, you open partnerships with local governments and more. Renting your space during the off-peak season, offering accredited courses or continuing education to adults in partnerships with local colleges and universities, or structuring your facility as a community hubspot for emergencies like natural disasters all present value that can keep you afloat (and recession-proof). Value comes through service, not exclusivity.
3. Innovatively Efficient
Most people don’t survive change because, quite frankly, they are closed-minded. Look for the gaps. They are opportunities! Where can gaps be found? In connection! There are some free areas people already utilize that can have dual purposes between gaining insight and getting direct impressions to your desired targets. We will focus on Google and Facebook. Google, as well as other search engines, have predictive text which simply highlights what phrases are frequently searched for. In order to dominate above the fold line in a search results page, you have to be either the pioneer or authority of that content. Now, with algorithms changing often, it might seem redundant to keep finding the next big tip to stay a step ahead, but for a rule of thumb and the words of Ricky Bobby, “If you’re not first, you’re last.” Type in a word or phrase, study the suggestions, and notice what is NOT there. Whatever that is, write about it. You solve both points by filling in that gap in a widely used resource.
In Facebook, many overlook a feature that is quite old but is coming back with a vengeance. Community/group pages are where ideas and opinions are really shared because dialogue can be generated with like-minded individuals or those you would otherwise structure your entire strategy focus around. With Facebook allowing business/brand pages to join these conversations, the opportunities for your organization to connect with others around the world are limitless.
The beautiful thing about these tips is that they are free and either you or an employee or even an advocate can perform these tasks. Think outside the box, then use the box to build your next great idea!