The USA, like much of the world, has now officially entered a period of recession thanks to COVID-19. The pandemic has swept across the world and introduced challenges nobody could have foreseen.
If you’re like most, you might be worrying about what this situation means for your future. Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to recession-proof your personal brand and continue to thrive in these difficult times.
Let’s dive in.
Focus on your personal website
Your personal blog or website is the first place prospective clients, customers, and employers will go when they want to learn more about you. Therefore, make sure it’s up to date and as good as it can be.
Add to your portfolio, update your “About Me” page, and create plenty of fresh, relevant content on a regular basis. An amazing website not only makes you more findable via improving your SEO, but also shows off who you are and what you can do.
Another advantage of a great website? You can make money blogging as an additional source of income.
Put your values front and center
What is most important to you? What kind of person do you want to be? Identify your core values, and keep them at the heart of everything you do as you grow your brand during the crisis.
Not sure what your values are? Take the time to sit down and brainstorm. I recommend summing up your core values in three to five words or phrases. Values are innately personal, so ensure that whatever you land on feels right for you.
Invest in marketing
You might be thinking that you should cut back on marketing to save money. But this would be a mistake. Your marketing is not an unnecessary expenditure in your budget — it’s essential. At best, cutting your marketing budget in response to a crisis is a short-term solution which will leave you in a weaker position when the downturn ends. Therefore, if you want your brand and your business to survive the recession, keep investing in your marketing.
You don’t need a huge budget to do effective marketing. Invest in the most cost-efficient strategies such as email marketing, SEO, and social media.
Offer as much value as you can
Whether you’re a freelancer, a small business owner, or looking to land your next dream job, offering as much value as possible is the best way to keep thriving in difficult times. Therefore, always ask yourself what you can do to add value for your clients, customers, or employer.
Don’t be tempted to cut your prices. This doesn’t make people feel they’re getting more for their money. It devalues what they think your services are worth, which is the opposite of what you want. Instead, focus on building a specialized offering, increasing your content output, and improving your skills to provide added value.
Uniqueness is important when it comes to personal branding, too. What value can you add that no-one else can? In other words, why should people choose to work with you over any of the other people who do something similar?
Build your network
“It’s not what you know, but who you know,” as the saying goes. And many businesses and brands will live or die by their networks over the next few years. Therefore, if you haven’t previously invested much time in networking, this is a great time to start.
If you already have a strong network, invest the time it takes to nurture it. Engage with the people, groups, and businesses you follow on LinkedIn. Join a virtual networking group (many groups that used to meet in-person have moved online during the pandemic). Say yes to that request to catch up over coffee. Drop people in your network a line — not to sell them anything, but just to check in and stay connected.
Effective networking has far-reaching benefits. A strong network builds trust in your brand, establishes your credibility as an expert in your niche, and gets your offering in front of more people.
Adapt to the changing circumstances
Things are not the same as they were a year ago, or six months ago, or even a month ago. The situation is changing rapidly, and we are all learning how to respond to it as we go along. But the people and businesses that thrive will be the ones who are capable of adapting.
This is the time to think outside the box. If your previous offering is no longer marketable in this new reality, how can you pivot to a new approach? Did you put a project on the back burner last year that you can now revisit in a new way? Who desperately needs your skills right now, and how can you reach those people?
Be mindful of behaving ethically
The term “Disaster Capitalism,” coined by author and activist Naomi Klein, refers to using situations of crisis or tragedy for financial gain. One example is the companies that started selling hand sanitizer at an enormous mark-up at the start of the pandemic. Be extra mindful of behaving ethically during times of crisis, and do not be tempted to play on fear to make a quick buck.
Aim for content that makes the reader or viewer feel good, that delivers a message based on hope rather than panic, and that centers your brand values.
Keeping your personal brand strong in challenging times
The world has fundamentally changed in the last few months, and will undoubtedly continue to do so. But change does not have to spell disaster. If you remain adaptable, focus on providing value, and ensure you behave ethically, there’s no reason your personal brand can’t weather this storm and come out stronger.