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.
This is a great time to deliver your message while the overall advertising noise level is substantially lower. Advertising is reduced everywhere, as are the publication of whitepapers, etc. Any company delivering its message in this environment will have a lot less noise to compete with and thus are more likely to be heard.
The cost of reaching the customer is also lower. Like in many industries, advertising revenues have been reduced for all media outlets, making it a great time to negotiate deals. Advertising costs are lower. The ability to negotiate packages and lower long-term rates is greater. The competition for on-line ad words is lower, thus the cost per-click through is lower.
For those who have the financial strength to maintain their marketing programs, it is to their advantage, as they are able to get their message out more often and in more places at a time when the competitive noise is reduced.
What if you were to be so BOLD as to INCREASE the marketing budget during the recession? Buy more advertising and more opportunities to deliver your message when the noise is the lowest. How might this impact the position of your business as compared to the competition? How might this impact the revenue of your business as compared to the competition - particularly during the recovery when projects that have been on hold are restarted?
Instead of focusing on what your business looks like during the recession, imagine how you would like your business to look as the economy improves. It might be the best time to think about how to take advantage of your competitors' short-term behavior to gain long-term market share.