Should You Scale Back Marketing in a Downturn?


Wall St. Journal’s Kelly Spors interviewed Stefan Tornquist of MarketingSherpa in a timely article, “Don’t Back Down: Thinking of cutting your marketing efforts? One expert argues that a faltering economy is a great excuse to expand them.”

Tornquist said that one trend is for companies to shift their marketing spend, “taking traditional advertising and direct-marketing campaigns and putting it online.”

This will exacerbate traditional print media’s problems, by the way, unless traditional media can come up with a way to be more flexible, more measurable, and more valuable. Cutting staff and sections — which the major chains are doing — does not seem to address the fundamental problems, a point that’s been a recent theme of this blog.

Tornquist also makes the point for some patience: “There’s something about the Internet’s effect on advertising” — read: marketing and PR — “if you don’t get something immediately, you assume it’s not working. What we lose sight of it that brand activity makes us trust a company and buy when we see their ad later on. One of the greatest challenges for small companies is to make a name for themselves, and a downturn actually provides an opportunity to do that because it tends to suppress the branding activity. There’s absolutely the opportunity to leapfrog competitors, especially if the local leader is using the downturn to curtail their (marketing) activities.”

We see the same issues in PR, especially those clients who could make an impact in the online world, but want instant success. One thing I’ve learned is that you have to make a commitment to an online program; you can’t helicopter in and expect to be part of the fabric and conversation.

Check out the entire interview.

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