Whether it’s the USA election or Brexit, September 11 or Hurricane Katrina, the uncertainty that surrounds world events brings up anxiety in people and changes their behavior, which in turn affects your marketing and sales.
I’ve spoken with several colleagues who are having a difficult time filling autumn classes or getting clients to commit to a contract, where they never had a problem before. These are high-skilled people with long-term reputations for excellent sales and marketing skills.
So I started asking around to see how widespread it is: Are you seeing anything different in your business these past few months?
I’m hearing a chilling response from my colleagues, clients and members: Yes, things appear different over the past few months, with their own businesses and in discussions they’re having with their own colleagues.
One possible explanation is that Americans are feeling extremely anxious about the elections and people in Europe are feeling anxious about Brexit.
Anxiety makes people hesitate before making a big commitment. They second-guess themselves. Many people take a wait-and-see approach when anxiety is high.
What You Can Do
Talk with your customers. While the political events may be serious, so is the rest of their personal and professional life. Reach out to customers and remind them that their dreams and goals will not go away, and instead of freezing in place, they should consider where they can empower themselves to take action. What is one next step they can take that will propel them forward?
For your own business situation, know that these anxieties come and go, and you don’t always have control over them. You can plan for these swings by keeping your finger on the pulse of how your customers are feeling, whether you sell to the general public, or to other businesses. Pay attention to these trends so that you can get ahead of the curve with strategic planning and nimble marketing. (And pay attention to your own reaction to world events – are you freezing in place, too?)
Pay attention to world events through the lens of “How will this make my customers feel and react, and how long will this event affect them?” You don’t want to make pivotal and long-lasting changes in your business and marketing model if your customers will only be affected by an event for a short time.
Where to Keep Your Finger on the Pulse
There are several places you can pay attention to what’s happening with your customers’ feelings and actions.
- You can find a monthly consumer confidence index here. Simply scroll down to the Countries menu and select one or more countries to compare their confidence numbers.
- Here’s a list of business confidence for many different nations as well.
- Here’s the most recent Stress in America results from the professional association for psychologists, the American Psychological Association. It talks about how adults are feeling about the stress related to the election (in a non-partisan way):
- The Marketplace and Edison Research Economic Anxiety Index is here.
- Several major publications regularly interview business leaders about their outlook for their business/industry, and your local Chamber of Commerce may do so as well. Just Google “business leader outlook” to find relevant survey results. (Note: because Google will show you a series of results, even historic ones, you might want to put the current year in your search terms so that you get current results.)
What Do You Think?
What’s happening in your business? Is it steady or have you seen changes? Share your thoughts on my blog.