Things do not to appear to be as grim as they had a couple of months ago. Is the worst of our economic woes over? I don't really know. But, the business cycle continues as it has in the past. We continue to have booms followed by busts followed again by economic growth. At the peaks of the booms and the bottom of the busts it seems the refrain is much the same - "this time it is different." However, though things do change, the fundamental principles remain much the same.
The recession has had executives running for cover until the economic storm has passed. They make short-term business decisions that manifest themselves in extensive cost cutting measures such as layoffs, furloughs, and typically near the top of the list - the marketing budget. The uncertainty of the times strikes at the hearts of individuals' insecurities, so holding on to what you have becomes the behavior of both consumers and businesses.
However, economic growth will return, and the recession offers a potentially excellent opportunity for companies to significantly improve their market position. This may also be a great time to pick up ground on the competition. They may be hiding from the storm like so many other companies led by fair weathered captains of industry. What if you were to continue to invest in your business? Get more aggressive with development plans to build additional differentiation against the competition that has cut its R&D. Avoid layoffs of the people needed to operate the business so that you don't find yourself hiring new untrained individuals who need to learn your business at the same time the economy is recovering.
Marketing may appear to be a sensible place to reduce expenses since fewer people are buying and those who are typically are spending less. Everyone else is cutting back on marketing, why not do the same? The problem is that your partners, customers and prospects may also notice this, and the message it sends is not one of reassurance.
This economy provides an opportunity for those who have some financial strength to improve their market position. The opportunity is actually twofold for marketing: the noise level is lower and the cost of delivering your message louder is greater.