Borrowing the recession strategies of Costco, Target, and other retailers

March 22, 2023

Step aside, Clifford, there’s a new dog in town. For the first time in 31 years, the labrador retriever has been dethroned as America’s most popular dog breed. All rise for Their Majesty, the French Bulldog!

Hot off the SMB press this week: 

  • Following the recession playbooks of major retailers.
  • These digital marketing strategies will improve your customer retention.
  • A starter template to help answer customer payment FAQs.

But first, here are some headlines that caught our attention this week.


This week's highlight reel

  • Plot twist. For International Women’s Day, Ford Motor Company launched a special commercial for “The Ford Explorer Men’s Only Edition.” Don’t worry: The tongue-in-cheek ad actually features a car that doesn’t have heaters, windshield wipers, or GPS — AKA, some of the significant automobile features developed by women. Brava, Ford.  
  • Reynolds-sance man. T-Mobile is acquiring prepaid phone company Mint Mobile — known for their infamous ads featuring owner and Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds — in a $1.35B deal. So, he acts in superhero films, is married to Blake Lively, and conducts savvy business deals? Leave some wins for the rest of us, Ryan! 
  • Release the toons. Disneyland is reopening the popular Mickey’s Toontown after a yearlong renovation — and a redesign with inclusivity in mind. The land is now entirely wheelchair accessible and designed to be visually and auditorily approachable for children easily overwhelmed by loud or bright stimuli. BRB, on our way to grab a selfie with Mickey.
  • Verified. Following in the footsteps of Twitter, Meta is rolling out a pay-for-verification option in the U.S. for individuals on Facebook and Instagram. Meta Verified, which costs $11.99/month on the web and $14.99/month on mobile, is not yet available for business profiles. But hey, at least you’ll know your mom’s profile is definitely hers.


Borrowing the recession strategies of big-name retailers

Is the recession actually happening?
It feels like it’s been ready to strike for quite a while, hasn’t it? But we shouldn’t fall into a false sense of security — two-thirds of economists still believe that a recession will hit in 2023.

And consumers are already behaving as if we’re in a recession, according to Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen. Because of inflated prices, customers are using more coupons and switching to cheaper brands — leading to slower sales.

A moth flying out of a frog puppet's wallet.

But major retailers have a plan.
Some of retail’s biggest players — including Target, Macy’s, and Best Buy — are predicting flat to declining sales because of the potential recession. And so, while sharing their plans for the next year, these companies have previewed the recession playbooks they’ll be using to mitigate those losses.

They include strategies that SMBs (product and service-based, alike) can and should implement in their own recession planning. Including:

1. Investing in loyal customers.
Repeat customers drive the majority of retailers’ sales and tend to spend more than occasional shoppers. To incentivize repeat customers, SMBs that utilize (or are thinking of introducing) subscription models should focus on getting people into their rewards cycle.

Plus, small businesses will want to convert their first-time customers into loyal ones — meaning you’ll want to invest in excellent customer service and personalize their experience with you.

2. Getting smart about discounts.
When a recession comes around, every dollar counts. So, offering any sort of discount just to get people buying isn’t always the best plan.

You want to be strategic about the sales and perks you offer. For product-based SMBs, this could look like offering free shipping for shoppers who spend a certain amount. For service-based businesses, you could put discounts on your most popular services during times when business is usually slower.

👉 See more recession strategies.


Can digital marketing help with customer retention? (Yes!)

What’s more important than gaining more customers? 
Keeping current customers. After all, if you lose as many customers as you gain (or more), your market share will shrink — and worse, you simply won’t be able to increase your revenue.

So you need to make sure your customers feel valued, supported, and heard by your company. Whether it’s by providing A+ product support or listening to (and acting on) customer feedback, your business needs to be prepared with solutions before customers dump you for your competitors.

To keep from overlooking your customers and give them a reason to stay, leverage these three long-term digital marketing strategies.

1. Keep customers interested with engaging content.
How do you keep your customers engaged? It all boils down to how well you establish trust and foster your relationship with them. And to do that, you need to give them the tools and information they need to be successful.

An older woman jumping over a table and saying, "Help is on the way!"

Consistent buyers will eat up information about enhancing their experiences. After all, they’re looking for the solution to their problems. So when they learn that they can turn to your business for answers, you’ll see them flock back to your products and services.

But what’s the best way to become this all-knowing industry go-to? By educating customers about new learnings, products, and features in an organized, branded resource.

The best way to do that is by creating customer resources right in your business playbook. That way, you can outline information that’s easy to consume, add engaging multimedia, and simple to keep up to date — just like you do with employee training.

🔥 Tip: Check out this example of a product resource for Trainual Tags that we share with our customers. It covers what the product does, how to set it up, FAQs, and more for customers to reference before and after purchasing the product — helping them understand why it’s valuable for them and giving them all their need-to-knows in one accessible resource.

👉 See all three digital marketing strategies.


Template of the week: Collecting Customer Payments

What’s a bigger time-suck: answering the same question over and over (and over), or writing the answer down once so it can keep those questions away from you forever? You got it: option one.

Here at Trainual, we’re in the business of making documentation as easy as possible. So, every week, we’ll showcase a template — for a policy, process, or role (with responsibilities) — that you can take and use in your own business playbook. All it needs is your personal touch, and then it’s ready to share with the rest of your team.

👉 This week’s free template will kickstart process documentation for your sales and customer experience teams: Collecting Customer Payments. Use it to outline the types of payments your company accepts and how to process each one. (And make sure you add the answers to any team FAQs to avoid those pesky repeat questions!)

Can’t wait a whole week for your next template? Check out our entire template archive of free, multimedia-enhanced, and customizable policy, process, and role starters. New to Trainual? Try for free.

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