Marketing Strategy

Everyone’s spending again. Time to prepare for cuts.

Everyone’s spending again. The IPA Bellwether report, released last week, shows the highest rise for the last six years. Good news for the economy, if the past is anything to go by, and good news for marketing people.

So let’s not repeat the mistake we made after the last two recessions.

Now’s the time to start preparing for the next round of cuts.

Marketing people are positive, optimistic souls who believe in opportunity and demand-led growth. Which puts us at a horrible disadvantage when it comes to justifying our spending plans in front of our über-left-brained colleagues in finance. They don’t always think in terms of opportunity. They think in terms of risk.

“If I switch this off?” they say, “who and/or what will die?”

Since marketing investment is to brands, what food is to bodies, the answer is usually, “No one and Nothing…. yet!”

So they cut the food supply off and the body gradually starts getting thinner.  But no one notices. Not to begin with. Then people in the business do start noticing and what’s more, they think – like dieting – that it’s a good thing. “We’re fitter.. and leaner”,  they say. If you’re working with wankers they add, “…and meaner!”

And all the time the marketing people are getting smarter about deploying funds, becoming more efficient, trying to pretend the brand isn’t starving to death.

And the famine gets worse and goes on longer, not just because the economy is still crap. But because the brand isn’t generating any demand any longer.

Remember Joseph and his trendy coat? He has this dream about 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine. So he spends the first seven years storing food for the second. And boy does it help them out later on.

I’m not suggesting you hoard your newly acquired budget. They’ll just have it back next quarter, we all know that.

I’m suggesting we use the good times (you know, the one’s that we’re hoping are just around the corner) to invest in robust, accountant-proof data to show how your marketing spend builds your brand, how increased brand strength builds demand and how increased demand leads to better retention and lower new-busineses acquisition costs.

Then you can tell them who and what will die, if they switch the machine off. And you’ll be able to tell them when it’ll happen.

And you can start calling lack of marketing investment “Brand related risk” and tracking it over time.

That’s when they’ll begin to start listening.