What can we do for our customers to help us survive this COVID-19 downturn?

Your business, like mine, was probably humming along before the COVID-19 shut down.

We both knew we’re decent companies. We offered our customers good products/ services at a reasonable price and delivered them on time… but so were our competitors.

You and I both knew we should be doing more to protect ourselves against a downturn. Both of us probably experienced a nagging feeling telling us we needed to improve.

But we didn’t know how and never took the time to think about it. Hence, that nagging feeling got ignored.

Now, we are in panic mode…. “I have to do something, but what?”.

To survive this downturn, we can simply start by asking one strategic question.

“What else can we do for our customers?”

One excellent example is from Hyundai’s 2008-2009 Recession effort.

They were in trouble; US sales dropped 37%.

So, instead of lowering prices like their competitors were doing… they asked their customers: Why are you not buying?”

The resounding answer was, “I am afraid that I might lose my job, and then I won’t be able to make my payments.”

To address this concern, Hyundai offered the Hyundai Assurance Guarantee: “If you lose your job or income within a year of buying the car, you can return it with no penalty to your credit rating.”  What happened when they made this offer —their sales ended up doubling that year.

They were using a technique called upstream marketing.

Upstream marketing, according to Dr. Chara, it is the strategic process of identifying and fulfilling customer needs that will lead to productive growth.

By dialing in your upstream marketing, the decisions you need to make for your downstream marketing activities such your emails, website, social media, PR, easier to create and more cost-effective.

You discover these customers’ needs by asking better questions.

You are probably asking yourself—

What kinds of questions should I be asking them?

Here are some you might consider:

What is changing in “your” market?

Have you been impacted by the downturn in oil and gas business?

Is there another area of growth you are pursuing now?

What has been the impact on your business from the significant consumer preference for products made with recycled resin?  Are you redesigning your product with the circular economy in mind?

As Amazon continues to take over more business, what are you doing to sell through them? How are you helping your customers sell their products on Amazon?

What are you doing to lightweight your products? What is working, what is not?

How can we make it easier to do business with us? For example, can we improve your opinion of us by customer service reach out to you more often regarding orders or overstocks that are available?

What kinds of new business/ markets are “your customers” going after, and why?

Here at NSG Consulting Inc. we have years of experience helping a wide range of industrial clients find solutions by looking through different colored lenses. Our guidance ended up helping them earn a bigger share of their market.

Reach out to me to learn more about this effort or any other marketing service you might need: [email protected].

BTW—I will be creating a new article with more details on what Upstream and Downstream marketing is all about shortly. Please reply to this email if you want to make sure you receive it once completed.

References used in this article are from the Harvard Business Review piece: “When Marketing Is Strategy.” I encourage you to spend some time reading it:


I also suggest you read Dr. Chara’s book: “Profitable Growth.”