McDonald’s is thriving. It’s global same-store sales rose just over 7% in January, and were up more than 5% in the U.S. Why? Is it simply that people are looking for a cheap meal when times are tough? It’s more complicated than that. People are looking for good value in a recession. And the McDonald’s brand delivers just that: a predictable experience, a reasonable price, a respectable product. McDonald’s has also remained true to its core products, while meeting new customer demands (more chicken, more salads and wraps, apple slices and carrots in the kids meals, lattes and other specialty coffees).
In a recessionary environment, other organizations have much to learn from McDonald’s.
It’s a great time to remind your customers about the value your brand promise delivers. This applies if your customer is purchasing your product or service and also if they are invested in your nonprofit’s outcomes as donors and volunteers.
So what are some things you can do to promote your brand value?
First, emphasize the consistency, quality and value of what you provide. Second, remind people about the niche that you serve and what is unique about your way of meeting that need. Third, make sure your stakeholders know what steps you are taking to reign in expenses and overhead in this economic crisis so they know they are not paying for unnecessary costs.
If you are not able to do those things, it’s a good time to regroup and focus on your core mission.
What does that mean? For both for-profit and non-profit enterprises, it means honing in on your key products and services and pulling back on extras that are not your core competencies. If those are areas where you still want to deliver, it’s a great time to look for partners who can provide that extra value without the added overhead.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy and The Wall Street Journal have both been filled with articles about nonprofits and for-profit companies going out of business. While it’s no fun being those organizations’ leaders or their employees, in the long run this is a good thing. Those groups with a strong brand value, well-defined core mission, and well-served and well-understood “customers” will survive. Others will team up to provide broader offerings without diluting their main focus. Those whose brand value was inflated (Citibank), stretched across too many product lines (AIG), or produced poor products (GM) will be restructured or bankrupt. In the end, those brands with the best value will come out on top. Make sure yours is among them, standing right there with the golden arches.