Shift happens: how marketers should adapt to a changing market


It's easy to lose discipline during the good times. Budgets increase, teams grow, and discipline sometimes (often) falls by the wayside. It happens organization-wide but is particularly likely in marketing and go-to-market functions.


Because customers say yes.

When times are good, budget abounds to buy nice-to-haves, not just must-haves. When the market shifts, budgets and resources tighten. Suddenly, nice-to-haves move further down the list, and it becomes imperative for companies to reset how and to whom they are selling (and why).

This is when companies should step back and self-critically assess their marketing and messaging. If discipline has been lost, build it up and refocus on the fundamentals of your marketing strategy and spend, especially value-proposition. If it's unclear how to shift spend or resources, take that as a sign that you probably need to refine messaging.

Recently I had the opportunity to discuss these dynamics with two experts from the Jump portfolio family - Gina Hortatsos, Chief Marketing Officer at LogicGate, and Cassidy Shield, Chief Growth Officer at Refine Labs. Gina boasts 25 years of experience in enterprise software marketing across small, medium, and large companies, the last 3 ½ of which she's spent at LogicGate. Prior to Refine Labs, Cassidy's career trajectory included heading up Sales and Marketing at Narrative Science, a Jump portfolio company sold to Salesforce in early 2022.

My key takeaway from the discussion is that any market change, good or bad, is a great opportunity to reset and narrow focus. During the discussion, Gina shared how LogicGate has shifted strategy and tactics alongside the current environment, or in Cassidy's case, what shifts he recommends to Refine Lab clients.

Communicate the value prop

Despite not seeing major shifts in customer behavior (yet), LogicGate is proactively shifting messaging toward the buyer behavior they anticipate around the corner.

Now is the time to be mission-critical, communicating how systems and technology help the buyer accomplish more without needing more people or budget.

Hone your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Even small companies should create a simple reverse breadcrumb trail to refine the ICP. In Gina's case, she shared that LogicGate often re-evaluates and refines its assumed ICP to ensure it stays accurate and appropriate. This motion is very analogous to the customer prioritization exercise. There should be patterns - in terms of demographics, firmographics, and behavioral attributes – that are apparent in your best customers. Once that's figured out, tweak the segmentation strategy from there.

Focus on the customers that love you

When things get challenging - lean into the relationships going well, turn good customers into great customers, and get the customers who love your product to buy more. The painful customers that constantly need attention and resources? They're likely not worth the effort needed to cling to them.

That said, customers that churn are a great data point in further refining your marketing targeting strategy, whether it's the demographics, the persona, the industry, or the behavioral characteristic with which your product doesn't resonate perfectly. That information lets you begin excluding these characteristics from your targeting – proving honest, candid, and thorough "deal-lost" and customer churn analysis is essential.

Be selective about channels

A common mistake most marketers commit during a downturn is pulling back across the board but still attempting to do a little bit of everything. This path only leads to mediocrity and poor results. Gina and Cassidy stress that the opposite is true: do only a few things and make sure to do them exceptionally. Find the two or three things that will have the most significant impact that you already do well, and invest all your resources there.

Unanimously, Gina and Cassidy believe a wildly underutilized marketing tactic is amplifying The Evangelist's point of view. The two most emblematic personas of The Evangelist are the founder and the top-tier customer. These personas best understand the reason for and the impact of your products; they understand the Company story and have a deep passion for telling it.

If you can harness and translate this passion into your messaging, the probability of success increases immensely. With the proliferation of peer affiliation networks (i.e., Chief) or private slack channels, the importance of Evangelists speaking on your behalf in these private forums is all the more critical.

Gina and Cassidy ended the discussion focusing on the positives sowed in uncertainty. A good market covers the blemishes, whether it be marketing, product, or talent. An uncertain market offers marketers the opportunity to reset, refocus, and innovate - but you must be proactive to take advantage. When the market shifts or there is risk, it provides fertile ground for innovation. Allow uncertainty to fuel a reset, narrow your focus, and provide fodder to experiment with cool, creative ideas that drive big change.


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