“What’s going on in the market?”
I get asked this question all the time. It makes sense; everyone’s wondering the same thing. As the leader of an agency that’s tasked to generate leads and funnel new business opportunities, I think about this a lot. And though I can’t see the full picture, there are a few things informing our agency’s actions at the moment that I can share with you.
Traffic is Steady.
Now, this is a broad statement, one that’s made by looking at the macro, not the micro of your particular situation. But, overall, we are not seeing any significant drops in website traffic. This means people are still visiting websites, they are still looking for information, and they are still exploring their options. This makes us believe that there is a lot of potential buying activity still happening. It could be research-type traffic or it could be early vetting, but again, overall, we are not seeing a dramatic drop in traffic that should cause worry. Honestly, the traffic drops we are seeing are typical of normal summer months – the time when peoples’ attention turns to vacations. It’s not as drastic as the drops we see during Christmas or holidays when the buying cycle comes to a close.
Replacement, Not Expansion.
Concerning leads, we are seeing there’s more demand for replacing current services than there is for expanding into new services. For example, we’re seeing leads that are looking for outsourced services to replace people that they have let go due to layoffs. We’re seeing vendor “roulette” as vendors are being switched out for lower cost options or are being dropped due to performance-based issues. We aren’t seeing too many new start-up opportunities or many new desires to grow via services that weren’t already in use. But there still are leads!
Too Many Mixed Messages.
Is it a recession? What about the stimulus? What about all the unemployment? Why are we making it through when it seems the world is coming apart?
There are so many messages in the media and so many distractions right now. Leaders and decision-makers can feel like they’re going over the edge of Niagara Falls in a barrel, not really knowing which way is up. The deluge of information is creating decision paralysis for organizations.
When this happens, overall confidence in planning and growth goals is weakened. You can talk to five different leaders and get five different opinions, and you can look at five different companies in the same industry and see five different approaches to the market. This is literally maddening. I feel empathy and compassion for clients right now as we are all trying to figure out what’s going to happen next. But this confusion is causing issues in the market.
It’s Like an Election Year, But Way Worse.
With all of these factors at play, it’s hard to draw on historical reference to see what’s going on. The best comparison we can make to this scenario is to note what typically happens in the middle to the latter part of an election year. Coincidentally, we are in an election year. Typically, in election years, we see reserves of cash held by companies, conservative capital expenditures, and a general “holding of breath” in major decisions until the election result is known – at which point things break loose.
All of this just feels like a very long election year. Or, better yet, an election year on steroids. It’s got all of the same feelings, emotions, and challenges, just multiplied exponentially in terms of intensity and persistence.
Political views aside, this is challenging. We had been in a great bubble of growth and prosperity for about 10 years. Now the time has come for the economy to retract. It’s come time for the reckoning in many markets. Contraction will produce healthy fruit; just as pruning a tree produces better fruit, so this will, too, in our companies and in our economy.
As for marketing, our agile approach is seeing a heyday right now because yesterday’s marketing plans and tactics are losing all of their effectiveness. The only approach to marketing today is one that is agile, data-based, and reactive. Last year’s way – even last month’s ways – aren’t cutting it in the present moment. Taking an aggressive and quick pace is the only way to effectively run your campaigns.
As for the sales teams, it’s going to be a hard fight for the next couple of weeks. I think this general downward slide in sales opportunities is going to happen for a while. There will be temptations to close bad deals and to do nefarious things to get new deals. The right way will still be the right way. Stay the course.
For the market, I think PPP is a great tool, and I think the unemployment stimulus has been a needed balm for the fear in the economy. We’re still feeling the propped up effects of the stimuli, and by September or maybe October, the companies that simply can’t make it will start closing their doors. We could be lining up for a very good Q4, but Q3 might still feel like a dogfight
On a Positive Note.
Adversity doesn’t kill strong companies. The environment outside your company will only serve to magnify your preparedness to handle adversity inside your company. If you have made it this far, congrats. The next hurdle is to make it through the next three months. Then the next six. That might sound a little hyperbolic, but isn’t this what we always face as business owners and leaders? Aren’t we always looking quarter to a quarter, year to year? Now it’s time to get sharp again. Now it’s time to be aggressive by default.
Let’s get out there and make some wins. This is why you got into business in the first place, right?