The Case for a Marketing Investment… Especially During Tough Times


I’ll admit: this is an uncomfortable subject to raise. Many of the people reading this will fall into one of two groups. Either marketers who are struggling, in many cases because marketing budgets have been slashed, and Business Owners who are up against the wall, many of whom see “severing a finger to save the hand” as the best available option. In other words, the hazard here is that we’re either (A) preaching to the choir or (B) lecturing people about things they can’t control.

You’re still reading this because, well, I’m the messenger… it’s the cross I sometimes bear. As a rule, I try to avoid killing the buzz unless something important requires it. I consider this message vital because it contains a long-term perspective that very few people have right now (and fewer still will keep in focus).

The original “message” (which I’m recapping) comes from Gavin Finn at MarketingProfs. There are two simple pieces here: the statistical studies which support my title, then the concise practical wisdom from the old pros.

First, some stats and studies:

? Harvard Business Review. Companies that cut marketing costs faster and deeper than their rivals later have the lowest probability (21%) of pulling ahead of the competition once times improve.

? MIT’s data from their study of financial performance during the downturn indicates that “investing to create and sustain a competitive advantage is still the single best recipe for dealing with downturns.” Cornell corroborates, with its research, concluding that marketing investment during tough times has the most potential to bring the most significant gains in the long term, plus whatever the short term gains.

Second—Long-term views on marketing spend in this climate:

What you cut now will need to be rebuilt later

Think of a business as a house (in Florida) and situations like this as a slow-motion hurricane. One simple reason that it’s smart to make “marketing investment” during downturns is that you won’t have to spend as much to rebuild things like spending money to board up the windows, rather than buying new windows later. Also, if you don’t have to rebuild from the studs, you’re operating at full power sooner than the competitors.

Don’t slash the budget—sip it

Unless you’re one of the few businesses which can profit from the pandemic, it’s practically a no-brainer that you have to tighten the budget belt. Having said that? The #1 piece of advice from Forbes: cut smarter, not harder.

The sooner businesses can adapt to the post-COVID world, the better

It’s probably obvious, but COVID is changing business in ways that will far outlast the original threat of contagion. The sooner companies can begin reshaping their messaging and marketing strategy, the better they’ll adapt to the “new normal”. This process requires marketers, lest we forget that businesses don’t survive long-term without a steady supply of prospects and customers.

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About the Author

Though his chief ambition is to one day control the entire Internet, Jim busies himself in the meantime running our little web development and marketing agency. He's a certified super nerd who ranks coding in old, outdated languages and watching Star Trek reruns just a bit too high on his list of fun things to do. Outside of work, Jim enjoys Hockey (Tampa Bay Lighning, to be specific), more genres of music than most people realize exist, riding his Harley (he calls it "two wheel therapy") and exploring the world through travel.