What CEOs Can Do to Sustain Growth in a Turbulent Economy

If you’re like most CEOs, you’ve completely transformed your top priorities over the past year.

A survey at the beginning of 2020 found that the biggest internal concern for CEOs was finding and retaining top talent. Meanwhile, the most reported global trade as their top external threat.

Their fears about international economic turbulence clearly proved to ring true – but certainly not in the way most imagined.

Smart CEOs know that growth is subjective. Sustainable growth, rather than rapid growth, is what businesses need to weather turbulent economic conditions.

Sustainable growth is built around customer relationships, improving experiences, evaluating ROI, and encouraging a healthy brand image.

Fortunately, CEOs can use their high-level sway to encourage sustainable growth. Here’s how.

8 Things CEOs Can Do to Sustain Growth in a Turbulent Economy

A popular meme called “stocks only go up” jokes about holding even as a stock tanks, playing on the idea that the price will rise again eventually – even if it takes years.

It sounds silly but it’s not far off from how many CEOs approach their company in good times.

They assume quick yet steady growth reflects their management and overall business tactics. No one realizes how much they rely on certain sectors and market conditions until they’re ripped away suddenly.

At that point, you pivot to damage control.

No CEO can prepare for every situation – nor should they – but they should focus on what CEOs can do for growth by creating a sustainable foundation.

1. Don’t Cut Marketing – Adjust

Marketing takes up a huge chunk of the budget at most companies: staff, paid ads, content, technology, and much more. Unsurprisingly, many CEOs rush to slash marketing budgets when times get rough.

That’s a huge mistake because marketing is your connection to the outside world. When marketing disappears, buyers switch to competitors and leads dry up.

Instead, adjust your marketing approach to reinforce branding and authority. It’s also smart to consider account-based marketing over typical lead generation marketing.

2. Evaluate ROI of the Costliest Endeavors

Most CEOs can either reduce overall spending or shift budgets to more profitable tactics simply by evaluating their company’s ROI.

In many cases, this can start with martech since it takes up such a large portion of most budgets. Businesses often run multiple tools that accomplish similar tasks and staff may not use all the key features.

Either way, ask each department to run ROI audits since department leadership is in the best position to know what their team needs.

3. Advocate for Your Brand Authentically

People don’t trust brands – nor do they connect with brands on a human level. Employees, however, tend to earn 8x more engagement on social media content compared to their respective brands.

Furthermore, 82% are more willing to trust a brand when senior leadership maintains an active social media presence. Make sure to keep post content authentic by curating content and sharing unfiltered thoughts rather than brand content alone.

4. Demonstrate Your Willingness to Change as a CEO

The attitude of a CEO’s involvement (or lack thereof) can reverberate down throughout every department and employee.

Make it clear that you’re willing to admit when something needs to fundamentally change. Like anything else, CEOs can’t do anything for growth without accepting change.

5. Level-Up Your Customer Experience Initiatives

Don’t wait for tectonic shifts in the economy. CEOs should prioritize customer loyalty and experience now for sustainable growth regardless of economic conditions.

This could include revitalizing your website with a customer portal and knowledge base or leveling up your personalization for existing customers.

You can’t lose by focusing on customer experience. Loyal customers talk about their outstanding experiences to others. Meanwhile, leads can see what kind of post-purchase experience you offer via your website.

6. Embrace Technology and Efficiency

It’s impossible for each department to provide a personalized experience for customers if they aren’t working with the best data and tools available.

Most companies don’t have a data collection problem – they have a data management and sharing problem.

Siloed data can lead to embarrassing customer service mistakes. Make it a priority as a CEO to improve organization-wide efficiency by linking data into a central location so everyone can access what they need.

7. Find New Ways to Connect with Your Audience Online

While it’s important for CEOs and senior management to create an authentic and engaging social media presence, you should strive for deeper connections.

Social media is noisy and cluttered. Instead, build a community around your personal brand.

Video events like webinars, fireside chats, and discussions are useful for building a sustained audience as a CEO if you develop the right thought leadership strategy.

Beyond events, CEOs create a more exclusive environment for the biggest cheerleaders and those offering the most interesting contributions in conversations. Aim for an engaged audience where people can share ideas freely and receive feedback rather than a cult of personality.

8. Don’t Let a Cyberattack Destroy Everything

No CEO wants to think about a cyberattack but unfortunately, that’s precisely why they’re unprepared when one strikes.

A cyberattack isn’t just a short-term problem: The vulnerable nature means customers lose faith in a business and growth plummets. Many companies never fully recover.

As the face of a company, shareholders and leadership will look to you as a CEO for answers and possibly even a resignation.

Fortunately, you can prevent many cyberattacks as a CEO and avoid losing any sustainable growth by strengthening your cyber defenses. Even major attacks involve easy patches and obvious vulnerabilities basic protection could fix.

CEOs Have a Unique Power to Encourage Growth or Hinder It

With so much responsibility, it’s easy for CEOs to end up people-pleasing instead of doing what’s right for the company’s long-term growth.

No one exists in a vacuum though – not even shareholders. After all, shareholders can’t complain to anyone that a company isn’t growing fast enough if the company ceases to exist at the next downturn.

That’s why it’s so important for CEOs to encourage sustainable growth at a high-level. Sustainable growth is good for everyone: employees, CEOs, customers, and shareholders.

Looking for a little human interaction? RSVP to one of the upcoming Televerde Morning Marketing Mugs or Fireside Chats.

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