Maximizing Growth During Uncertain Economic Cycles: 5 Ways PE Firms and Portfolio Companies Can Invest in Marketing and Sales

Predicting economic downturns can be a challenging task, as it involves assessing a range of economic, political, and social factors that can influence the direction of the economy.

There is no shortage of opinions on the short-term economy.  Preparing for multiple scenarios is critical.

During the last economic downturn, many private equity firms (PE) made mistakes with their portfolio companies that led to significant losses. 

Some took on too much debt to finance acquisitions, which left portfolio companies vulnerable to economic shocks. Relying too heavily on cost-cutting measures led to decreased growth, innovation, and customer satisfaction leaving portfolio companies unable to compete in their markets. These mistakes highlighted the importance of proactive measures during times of economic uncertainty. 

Uncertainty presents opportunities.

A study by McGraw-Hill Research found that companies that invested in marketing and sales during recessions grew their earnings by 256% over the following five years, while those that cut back on marketing and sales saw earnings decline.

Marketing and sales investments are essential for portfolio companies to increase revenue and profitability. Here are five ways PE firms and portfolio companies can invest in marketing and sales to maximize growth during uncertain economic cycles:

  1. Leverage Customer Insights and Divest:  Insights are a powerful way for portfolio companies to drive focus on their most profitable offerings and improve overall business performance. By understanding customer needs and preferences, companies can refine their offerings, and divest others, to better meet customer demand and increase revenue. PE firms can work with their portfolio companies to analyze customer data and gain insights into their buying behavior. This information can then be used to develop targeted marketing campaigns and sales strategies against focused offerings that will resonate with customers and drive revenue growth.
  2. Continue to Build Brand Awareness: Building brand awareness is critical for portfolio companies looking to grow their customer base, especially during challenging economic environments. PE firms can work with their portfolio companies to develop brand messaging and marketing campaigns that will increase visibility and generate interest in their products or services. 
  3. Develop the Best Sales Channels: PE firms can help their portfolio companies focus on sales channels that will increase revenue growth efficiently. This can include partnering with other companies to sell products or services, developing online sales channels, or expanding into new geographic markets. By diversifying sales channels and focusing on effective channels, portfolio companies can reduce their dependence on any single revenue source, focus on what works and increase their overall revenue potential.
  4. Optimize Pricing Strategies:  PE firms can work with their portfolio companies to analyze pricing data and develop pricing strategies that will maximize revenue and profitability. This can include dynamic pricing strategies, promotional pricing, and other pricing strategies that will help portfolio companies stay competitive in their market.
  5. Invest More in Customer Retention:  Retaining existing customers is critical for portfolio companies looking to maximize growth especially during uncertain economic cycles. PE firms can work with their portfolio companies to develop customer loyalty programs, offer incentives for repeat business, and invest in customer service and support. By keeping existing customers happy, portfolio companies can reduce churn and increase revenue growth.

PE firms can play an important role in maximizing the growth of their portfolio companies by investing in marketing and sales during uncertain economic cycles. Investment and focus will yield meaningful growth before, during and after challenging economic conditions.



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