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Don’t Slow Down
 
By Peter Lowy
 
When the economy stalls, as it will from time to time, and revenues look like they could weaken, many organizations wonder if they should reduce marketing activities to help the bottom line. The short answer is: don’t cut back or you may lose an important edge. The fuller answer is: take advantage of new conditions to better serve changing markets.
 
Here’s why this approach makes sense.
 
Momentum is hard to rebuild. Marketing achieves its potential when it is treated like other essential functions, such as production, sales, and
customer service. Getting these activities up to speed and maintaining them takes a lot of work. If you pull back, you lose the momentum that comes from having created what is hopefully a well-tuned machine. Momentum includes knowing what works and what doesn’t and continually refining metrics. As business conditions evolve, it’s important to be in touch with your markets, since many changes they undergo become permanent.
 
You gain when others pull back. Think of driving down the highway at 60 m.p.h. If you and everyone else drops back to 40, you’ll maintain the same position relative to other drivers. But if the others slow to 40 and you maintain your speed at 60, you’ll surge forward even though you haven’t done anything different. Similarly, if competitors cut back on their marketing efforts, but you maintain your level, you’ll gain an advantage at no additional cost. Being more active and in touch with your markets, especially as they undergo change, is always good to do. Gaining such insights essentially for free doesn’t occur often.
 
It’s easier to say no. When times are good, everyone in the company wants their pet project funded. When times get tight, it’s easier to say “no” and preserve scarcer resources for marketing. If people question why marketing continues to get funded, the answer is simple: it’s a function of critical importance to the organization’s well-being.
 
You need to prepare for the future. Unless the world changes in unprecedented ways, business cycles will continue and tight economic times will pass. Trying new approaches to traditional markets, exploring new markets, and changing the mix of products and services you offer is what keeps organizations vital. Whatever the condition of the economy, your markets will keep changing. Why shouldn’t you?

© Peter Lowy