July 21, 2022

Plotting Your Next Move with The Hurricane Path Model

By: Ricciardi Group

In this recent article by AdAge, the author suggests that our instincts are often wrong when it comes to making decisions during a downturn. Much like pulling out of a 401k when the market is down, pulling back on key brand initiatives isn’t the best idea during an impending downturn.

But how do we plan for today, the near future, and the long term when there are endless unknowns? When there are so many variables to consider—from capital markets and geopolitical issues, to weather patterns and flu seasons—how can we know what to prioritize?

A model we often cite for future planning and forecasting amidst uncertainty is what we call the Hurricane Path Model.  Fortunately, the early stage path of a hurricane is fairly predictable and follows a similar pattern. While we cannot definitively predict where it will ultimately land, we can certainly make preparations for what we can see coming, and the direction it will take early on.

Following this line of thinking, here are three things your company can do to prepare for what may be a few stormy months. The good news? We may not be able to control the weather, but we can control certain aspects of our business if we are thoughtful and intentional about the decisions we make in the near term.


#1 Relentlessly prioritize

The good news about economic uncertainty is that it forces us to take a hard look at what and who is currently driving our business, then recast priorities based on data. In most cases, the 80/20 rule is the perfect way to think about this process. Double down on the highest returns and continue to invest in those things. This will simultaneously ensure you aren’t wasting precious dollars, while you also sow seeds for future business opportunities. The other good news: you can control what to prioritize, and this gives a sense of stability that has positive residual effects on other aspects of your business.


#2 Decide what activities move the needle

While downturns are generally seen as negative, these periods also provide an opportunity to analyze what’s working and what’s not. For example, if inbound demand is 100% necessary for the lifeblood of your business, then you can make a case for continuing to prioritize search marketing. If you are more of a relationship-driven business, then customer service and customer success should remain a core focus. Pick your top three business drivers and double down. The rest can either wait or go away entirely.


#3 Seek out best-in-class brands for inspiration

Brands that have both survived and grown during difficult conditions have a tremendous wealth of information when it comes to charting your strategic path. Find two or three case studies of companies that have flourished in a challenging business climate—then, apply aspects of their strategy that may be relevant to your company. Here’s an example we often use: During the 2009 recession, American Express invested heavily in attracting and retaining high-value consumers and B2B customers, and also formed valuable partnerships with complementary companies to increase value for their loyal customer base.

To see the full case study, send us an email.

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