SurThrival: Industry Analysis and Marketing


Tips to help you hone your marketing and analysis skills

Industry analysis and marketing can be difficult to maintain when business is down as they require a significant amount of market intelligence and research, which can be time consuming and expensive to obtain. However, they are crucial to business success. This checklist can help you use limited resources to evaluate potential market fluctuations, find ways to stay in tune with your customers, and promote your business.


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Industry analysis

  • Consider how a declining economy could affect your industry. Could the effects vary across sectors within the industry? Since current economic challenges are largely related to the oil market, consider how different sectors use energy and whether that gives some industries an advantage over others. How can you adjust your business model to preempt challenges and take advantage of potential opportunities?
  • Assess how your operating environment might change in a shifting or difficult economy. What are current economic, regulatory, technological, or social developments that might impact your industry or your customer base?
  • Use information from your industry and business' past to identify potential areas of concern. How can you use information about past challenges to better prepare for future ones?
  • Identify some key variables that impact or are correlated with your business. Use these and other economic indicators to anticipate and plan for fluctuations in business activity.
  • Are you closely tied to other industries that might be impacted? Consider whether your vendors, business partners, and customers are at risk for economic challenges and whether those challenges could ultimately affect you. Establish contingency plans in case vendors fail to deliver or go out of business, for example.
  • Make competitive and strategic expansion decisions. For example, if your building lease is coming up for renewal or you are considering growing your business, determine your ideal location and facility details. What is your dream location? A down economy often presents opportunities for good deals on real estate. What about your current location is unsatisfactory? How could it be improved? Consider ease of access, proximity to customer base, parking, relative location to competitors, etc.


  • Allow market intelligence to help determine your optimal allocation of capital. In a down economy, strategic capital allocation is critical and needs to incorporate information about consumer demand.
  • Clearly define or redefine your company brand. Many businesses try to redefine themselves during economic shifts anyway, so it may be a good time to reexamine your branding messages. Are you consistently following through on your brand promises? If your brand promises are reasonable but your customer service levels, products, or services are not meeting them, find out why. If your brand is promising more than you can realistically deliver, redefine it to be reflective of your actual capabilities. Be "an inch wide and a mile deep" instead of trying to be everything to everyone.
  • Regularly conduct Return On Marketing Investment (ROMI) analysis and use it to refine your marketing strategy. Some strategies and tactics take time to reach their full potential, so consider both a one-year and a lifetime ROMI.
  • Consider implementing low cost/high impact tactics such as guerilla marketing, social media, and networking/grassroots marketing.
  • Ensure that your staff is well-equipped and trained to maximize sales. If they are not, increase training in customer service and knowledge of your business' products and services. Consider hiring an experienced, high-performing salesperson who can lead your sales team.
  • Constantly seek new sales opportunities. In a tough economy, some businesses may start to withdraw. This can represent an opportunity for you to chip into their customer base.
  • Maintain a focus on keeping your current customers happy. Bringing in new customers is certainly important, but do not do so at the expense of your existing ones. It is often the case that the top 20% of your base account for 80% of your sales. Consider offering special treatment, loyalty discounts, and customer appreciation events to build on established relationships. Follow up on any letdowns in customer service.
  • Carefully manage your business' public image. In a down economy, poor public relations can quickly exacerbate other issues. Besides maintaining high ethical standards and offering exceptional customer service, what are some ways you could improve your image and relationships with customers, vendors, business partners, and the community? For example, can you sponsor events or otherwise engage in local reinvestment?
  • Make a habit of leveraging your referral activity. Invest in techniques to increase the referrals you get from current customers and business partners. Offer incentives and follow up with thank-you notes.