So what? After all this digging, filtering, and assessment of economic data, what’s a good strategic marketer to do?
First, realize your advantage: forewarned is forearmed.
While everyone else is standing around with their hands on their ass, waiting for the release of the next seemingly one-off economic data point – that will no doubt be at crosswinds to the one from the week prior, prompting them all to drool in unison – you’ll have a fuller context that allows you to forecast what each new number will be.
>>> Summary of Takeaway #1 – Start developing your own near-term forecasts for all the economic signals we’ve discussed across this series: weekly unemployment claims, housing sales, foreclosures, GDP, etc.
Then, instead of reading TechCrunch, look around for practical subject matter experts, who give lucid explanations of how economic factors impact businesses.
>>> Summary of Takeaway #2 – Create a list of trusted sources in the field of economics (feel free to start with the ones mentioned in part 4. Consult them frequently as you undertake the third step…
…Which is to develop 12-month-rolling business revenue forecasts for three scenarios:
1. GDP growth of 2% throughout 2012, 3% throughout 2013.
2. “Turning Japanese” scenario of 1% GDP growth throughout 2012 and 2013.
3. Recession scenario of negative GDP growth from middle of Q2 through middle of Q4 2012, followed by 2.5% GDP growth in 2013.
Modify each scenario’s parameters as new data come in. Adjust business forecasts accordingly. With luck, the third scenario falls away over time.
>>> Summary of Takeaway #3 – Forecast business revenues across “bad,” “flat,” and “tepid” economic scenarios. Project marketing strategies, resource requirements, and contingency plans for each.
Every moving part of your marketing should be addressed at this part of the process. For each scenario, what changes will occur for existing-customer focus? agency relationships? partner marketing programs? prioritization of acquisition target segments? media allocation? new-product launches? distribution channels? – just to name a few.
Think of the advantage all of this will give you. While your competitors plan for ever-elusive growth, they remain completely unprepared for stasis or collapse. Vice versa for you.