When tough times hit marketing is often among the first budgets business leaders look to cut. From a financial standpoint, this is an easy decision because marketers often struggle to make an empirical cost-benefit case for many of their programs, especially those that fall into the “market awareness” category.
Public relations is a prime example. How does one realistically measure the value of news coverage? How often can a media placement be tied directly to leads or even to sales?
I’ve been in this line of work a decade now and though have an alacrity for measuring and benchmarking metrics, there are only a handful of times I’ve been able to tie coverage directly to sales. Still, I do believe slashing awareness programs, can be a big mistake.
In good times, awareness programs are akin to having a conversation in a crowded room. You have to focus and stand relatively close to someone to listen and contribute to a given conversation. As a downturn gains steam, the conversation in that room dwindles as budgets slim, until fewer people are talking.
However, this is the worst possible reaction: at a time when businesses need to be having more conversations with customers and prospects, they instead choose to have fewer.
Marketing in a downturn makes sense! It presents businesses with a unique opportunity to enhance your firm’s presence, brand and reputation while the competition hunkers down to wait out the storm.
Note: There is a place on the balance sheet called “goodwill” and is often found after acquisitions to measure the value of the purchase above the book value of the company. I like to think of this as brand value and a tangible reflection of market awareness.
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