Recession Marketing….sounds sexy, eh?

October 12, 2008

An article in Forbes Magazine on the topic took shots at what it regards as naive agencies who sugarcoat the times and encourage clients to SPEND MORE. I’m not sure that is naive, I think it is arrogant. Here in reality we are watching marketing budgets constrict but we do not see that as a bad thing.

We are more hopeful about the possibilities because we see a fantastic opportunity. This is not the “squeaky wheel opportunity” where any idiot with a bullhorn can shout louder because everyone else has gotten quiet. This is opportunity that comes from KNOWING that there is substance in one’s offerings and that communicating substance shores up sales and loyalty when customers look to eliminate waste.

During the shenanigans there were a lot of empty shells running around with VC money, a cool logo and an evangelist. They exist in every market, but if you look hard enough you will find companies that do their homework (on customers and their needs), build a plan, plan the work and work the plan. It’s a long-term strategy. It’s a beautiful thing.

It’s especially attractive because it doesn’t induce or inspire panic…because the plan is already there. The customers are already understood. The product or solution is already being improved. Sure people on occasion take their eye off the ball in terms of disciplined execution against plan…but it only take a little economic reality to remind us of what matters. Back to the plan.

If you have a great product, and you have capital, and you’re in a market that trends up when the economy takes a beating…go for it…maybe you can listen to your agency’s financial advice (carefully). But make sure you can survive in your organization. Do it by bonding with your CFO, building budgets collaboratively, developing an organization-wide view of marketing success and productivity and getting creative. The thing most companies ask for in an agency is to get creative. Creative people, no matter which organization they belong to, can find ways to do more with less–more outreach, more good will, more research and sometimes more cuts.

The secret to succeeding is the same whether one is in a recession, a depression, a recovery or prosperity. Understand what you do. Make it better. Understand what your customers need. Understand what your future customers need. Make something even better than what is needed. Tell people honestly about it. Work to raise the tide that raises all ships. You can do this all the time. You may have to approach it differently at different funding levels but it is freeing to consider that this approach will see you to victory–incrementally, recurringly and justifiably.