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Leaders share their advice on product resilience in a recession

recession fears
Kelsey Anderson
Kelsey Anderson
Sr. Content Marketing Manager
6 min read
29 July 2022

There has been speculation of a recession for months

There are some convincing indicators, including massive tech layoffs, rising rents paired with high-interest rates, still-high gas prices, and low consumer confidence

Not only this, but the New York Times recently released a report analyzing interest rate hikes paired with historic recessions. Every time the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, some sort of economic recession follows. 

Every time.  

This fall, it’s crucial to think about recession-proofing your product, especially if your business model depends on monthly recurring subscriptions. 

That’s why we reached out to a variety of product professionals to glean insights on making a product more resilient in these challenging times. Here is what they had to say. 

fed rate recession graph

Bring engineering into ideation sooner 

“If you’re not already, bring your engineering leads into product conversations from the very moment of ideation. This is not a time to waste engineering effort, and your technical leads will be able to tell you upfront whether a product idea will be a large or small effort.  Trust that they aren’t trying to sandbag. 

“Tell them you want honest opinions on how long it will take because you want to focus on the things that provide the most value.  Ask them how you can break your idea into smaller, more feasible technical chunks so you can iterate quickly and fail (or succeed!) fast.”

Matt Merrill, Director of Engineering at DEPT®

A solutions-focused roadmap 

“The area top of mind for me when thinking about this question is to know your customer.

“If you can understand the challenges and business problems they are going through during a recession, you can begin to think of ways your product or service can support them through that; whether that means there are existing capabilities within your product that can solve those pain points or there are gaps that you’ve identified that can be prioritized into your roadmap. 

“Building solution-focused roadmaps that aim to solve customer pain points is the goal, and when in a recession, details matter, and priorities can change quickly.”

Cayla Curtis, Solutions Product Manager at Ping Identity

Know your most valuable clients 

“Re-engage your current and loyal customers and make a concerted effort to retain them.

“Provide exclusive incentives, such as special pricing, improved product deliveries, and giveaways. Analyze your customer data as well to determine what your most valuable clients are doing with your product.

“You can customize your outreach campaigns based on the information collected to optimize your retention efforts and offer a better customer experience.”

David Bitton, Co-Founder and CMO at DoorLoop

Product versatility

“If you want your product to be more resilient during a recession, you need to make it more versatile.

“Consider this: if you’re selling a single product, then that product is going to be most useful for one type of customer. If the economy tanks and your customers lose their jobs, they’ll stop buying that product. But if you can offer multiple uses for one product, then it will be helpful to more people and will therefore have more value in their eyes during hard times.”

Will Yang, Head of Growth at Instrumentl 

Candid communication with customers  

“I sit at the intersection of product, sales, and account management so my focus is on maintaining an acceptable customer retention rate at a time when there’s potential for budget cuts. 

“While the bedrock of a resilient client relationship is always going to be the raw value provided by your product or service, nearly as important will be the current relationship with the client maintained by your frontline team.

“If you have consistent, candid communication with your client, your team should be confident the value provided by your service is consistently surfaced to decision-makers. As a result, if a client is examining vendors for potential cuts or termination, your team will be made aware with ample notice and be best positioned to make a thorough and compelling case for maintaining the current partnership.”

James Redler,  Director of Partnerships, Implementation & Growth at Pushly

Start validating

“If you don’t conduct regular testing to validate the product decisions and design direction you’re going in, now is a great time to start. 

“Validating is short bursts of gathering feedback and conducting usability testing. These activities make sure you still have a positive, easy-to-use experience as you integrate new features into the existing product. 

“If you don’t validate then you won’t know if you’re improving the product experience or not…and there is a genuine risk that you waste enormous development resources on building something that is not an upgrade but a downgrade.”

 Josh Porter, manager partner at DEPT®

Invest more in customer research 

“My best advice on making your product more resilient during a recession is to invest a bit more in customer research to ensure that you’re delivering the best product possible.

“To survive a recession, your product has to be something that customers love. To make sure they continue to love it, increase your spending on customer research (surveys, etc.) so that you can get more real-time feedback on your product. This can help you in many ways, from product updates to marketing collateral, all rooted in what your customers are saying. 

Logan Mallory, Marketing VP at Motivosity 

Becoming multi-product

“During a recession, budgets shrink, which means that we’re entering a bundling period of software.

“Now, products need to move beyond a point solution and provide value across a range of use cases. Essentially, companies need to think about how to become multi-product in order to survive a recession.”

Alex Kracov, Co-founder at Dock

Of course, some industries suffer more during a recession. Some flourish and grow. Sometimes your fate is out of your control, but there are steps you can take to strategically add value to your product. 

Start having more conversations with your users. Make sure you’re working closely with your engineering and marketing teams. And make sure you won’t become prey to bundling by offering more with your product. 

Need help with product strategy and development? Contact the product experts at DEPT®. 

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