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Why is it that most businesses are fine with either keeping things just as they are or cutting back on what they had planned to do?

Not a day goes by that we don’t see one of the many major companies out there releasing their numbers, and then proclaiming that they are either going to “stay the course” or reduce their marketing and overall spending. How do you get ahead and increase revenues if all you’re doing is cutting?

This might be the perfect opportunity to think a little differently.

What if we all stopped “managing” our Marketing like it was just a line item in a bigger budget and started breaking out the whiteboards and imaging how to change, evolve and win more customers from your competition with a lot less money? What other choice do we really have? Also, if everyone else is cutting or keeping things as they are, maybe this is the perfect opportunity to really push ahead by investing and experimenting a little more. If everyone else is standing still or loosing ground, it sounds like the time is ripe to really grow your brand, build mindshare and start developing a very powerful community.

Do it while everyone has their heads in the sand or are covering their eyes.

Most people who are managing the budgets are just trying to stay out of trouble or they are doing everything they can to keep their own name off of the “people to let go of” list. While those folks are busy not rocking the boat and just managing the business as is, the real next generation of industry leaders are the ones that are tinkering, trying out new formulas and, generally, challenged by everything to not only deliver on their numbers but blow away all set expectations.

“The time to buy is when the blood is running in the streets.”

That’s a near-direct quote from the banker, Daryn Rothschild, and while it falls on the harsher side of how to do business, it does speak to how you perceive the concept of “opportunity” and – more importantly – it speaks even louder to your ability to figure out how to make big waves when everyone else is just treading water.

These digital tools do make a difference.

Having a Facebook Fan Page or a Twitter account is not going to save you, but focusing on the Digital Marketing channel as a way to connect and spread your message could well be the strategic brand play. Just today, MarketingVOX had a news item titled, Agency Clients Slash Budgets 20% or More, Digital Only Bright Spot, where they stated:

“Digital marketing is among the few bright spots in the survey, with half the CEOs citing it as a growth area in 2009. Among North American CEOs, 62% said that they think digital will grow this year, while 39% of non-North American CEOs said the same. Traditional print and broadcast – in every region – were only mentioned as growth areas by a minute percentage of the sample.”

It’s not just about efficiencies (or, at least, it should not be). By the sounds of this survey, and by reading the many types of content being published online, people are starting to get much more serious about Digital Marketing. Those that are doing it because they think they can save a few bucks are learning very quickly that it’s not just about stretching the ad dollars. It’s about being where the consumers are, especially when they are watching what they spend and trying to get more input and information about brands and products from their peers online.

More so than ever, those first brand interactions are happening at the search box and in these online social channels. How are you managing it all?


  1. Hey Mitch,
    Excellent post. I would add to your point that in these times that management of costs should not just be about cutting but also about finding efficiencies. I’ve found digital marketing channels to easily be the most efficient and measurable vehicles available, and therefore they deserve prime consideration for considerably more focus at all times, but especially during tough economic times.

  2. So right about this being the time to look forward and grow the business.
    If the down-turn starts to turn into an upturn by the end of the year, companies that are prepared for that now will be way ahead of those with their head in the sand today.
    Whilst you might have to cut some operational services, you should be investing in R&D and marketing strategy to be ready for the upturn.

  3. creativity happens when you lose a zero from your budget…anonymous
    Management is scared the old revenue response formula is no longer a valid indicator of the current environment and don’t know how to adapt. Most will tinker with the old play book, only a few will take the steps your outlined and seek to create a new playbook.
    John Maynard Keynes wrote, “Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.

  4. Great post – you sure can’t save your way out of a recession. I’m grateful to be with a company that undesrtands the opportunities inherent to tough times. We’re still hiring in key areas. We’re being more prudent where we can be, but this is definitely the time for creativity.
    I would respond to you that breaking out the white boards, etc IS managing – in the best sense of the word.

  5. Mitch – the idea that there is a community “out there” that people “in here” need to talk to suggests a broader problem.
    Perhaps “focusing on the Digital Marketing channel as a way to connect and spread your message could well be the strategic brand play.” just leads to these people trying to broadcast in a medium that is about exchange?

  6. Good article.Staying in a comfort zone is dangerous for a business, you must always plan ahead and research for new trends.Now is a good time to invest because prices are going down.

  7. Mitch, good point, lets hope that I can get this vision across to my superior tomorrow. I´m pitching an idea of increasing my time spent on developing digital media connections with (among others, but as a starting focus) our alumni. They have always been one of our best marketing assets… word of mouth works for us!
    In reponse to Brett Husbands comment, a thought: “focusing on the Digital Marketing channel as a way to connect and spread your message” can strengthen and build on already established connections; and if this increases marketing impact it is because marketing or branding is really all about exchange.

  8. Even though things are in a downturn, you are right that Digital Marketing is where it’s at. For one thing, companies can get their advertising out with a lot less cost. For another, you can reach a whole lot more people online.
    Companies that can grow with the times are also the ones that will survive when things look pretty grim as well.

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