One need only glance at whichever news platform you prefer to know that we are currently in difficult times. Inflation and interest rates are rising, consumer prices for essentials are increasing and despite the government reducing fuel taxes, the cost of fuel keeps going up. These are global trends resulting from the pandemic and the continuing conflict in the Ukraine due to the Russian invasion and the signs are that things are going to get worse before they get better. So, as a business owner, what choices are most important when there are dark clouds on the horizon? What mistakes should be avoided and what has worked during previous downturns?

When turnover is reduced business owners will obviously look to cut costs. This makes sense but it should be exercised judiciously and carefully. Certain costs are essential, however, and should be last on the list. The most vital of all of these is marketing because without it there are no new customers and customers are the key to getting through restricted economic times. Even if there are to be small retractions in a marketing budget, it is imperative to ensure that your online reputation is actually bolstered and paid more attention.

A recent article I read on Forbes put this into perfect perspective. “When inflation or recession hits, every percent of costs is critical. The good news is that reputation management can represent a tiny fraction of the overall marketing budget. Since so many consumers now use internet searches, they rely more on online reviews and ratings to make their selections than on reading advertisements. Several university studies have linked the value of online reviews and star ratings with revenue growth.” (Source: “Why Maintaining Your Business Reputation Is Essential During Tough Economic Periods,” Henri Isenberg, June 6, 2022, www.forbes.com).

Reputation is everything and its visibility for every business online is of even more importance during a downturn. When consumers become more concerned about how and where they spend their money, online reviews are the perfect realisation of social proof for a business and are the most valuable element of online presence.

So instead of considering excising reputation marketing spend, the opposite is of more value – investment – putting money into your name, your brand and continuing to encourage online reviews thorough authenticated online review platforms, such as NoCowboys.

“Having worked with thousands of businesses, I have seen businesses grow as their reputations improve. Conversely, I have seen businesses decline in sales when their reputations were sullied. As sage leaders and investors throughout the ages have pointed out: It’s a good practice to invest in your reputation. By investing in your name, your good business reputation should make your business more resilient in these trying economic times.” (Source: “Why Maintaining Your Business Reputation Is Essential During Tough Economic Periods,” Henri Isenberg, June 6, 2022, www.forbes.com).

This holds true to what we have seen at NoCowboys over the years – businesses thriving due to their commitment to their online reputations and others failing because they think it is an unnecessary expenditure. To quote my wise grandmother, “it’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

Downturns are nothing new, they are part and parcel of every single economy. Knowing how to navigate through them by not repeating the mistakes of the past is not overly difficult. Knowing what is most essential is key and trusting the behaviour of consumers is vital. Consumers want reviews and without them they are going elsewhere. No business owner wants that.