Why "Pulling the Plug" is Counterproductive
Pulling the marketing ‘plug’ to ‘plug’ your revenue hole is a sure way to de-energize your business for a post-Corona recovery.
We get it…times are tough and you want to shore up your revenue miss from the last several weeks of Corona by chopping Marketing bucks. That is certainly the most direct way of adding to the ‘bottom line’ since a marketing dollar saved is a profit dollar added...right? That’s definitely the right answer, IF you don’t intend to re-open your doors once you collect your PPP, Disaster Relief Loan or whatever other source of ‘float money’ you are working on.
But, IF you plan to re-open, re-gain, re-cover or re-start, then cutting off your marketing investment which is your influencing power with your customers, past, present or future or all three, is a great way to diminish the brand equity you’ve created over the history of your business.
Marketing Led even in Tough Times
When I started my illustrious (or infamous) career in brand management at Procter & Gamble, one of the first lessons I was taught was that, “the Marketing budget is not an open checkbook”. The idea was that you designed your annual budget and stuck to it. Budget adjustments were understood, but cuts were not stood for. In those days (1980’s) Marketing at P&G involved a full 50 week calendar (note: 2 weeks were taken off during the end of the year, not because people didn’t buy our products in December, but because P&G studies indicated the media noise level (i.e. car, diamonds, liquor, perfume etc.) was deafening and not a good return on investment in household products like toilet paper, dandruff shampoo or toothpaste.
Management viewed marketing budget cuts as poor brand management (bad forecasting, lack of consumer insight and knowledge, not anticipating competitive moves etc.) and a sure way to reduce brand equity. Truly, Marketing investment was seen as the generator that kept the lights on at this 182-year old company, even in challenging times.
Fast forward to Q1 and Q2 2020—who would have thought the best economy ever would come to a screeching halt? Nevertheless, here we are and any business leader looking at sagging revenue and profit, would certainly consider unplugging marketing to conserve cash and/or bolster profits. Of course, there are practical issues like retail stores not allowing in-store sampling, logistic issues creating out-of-stocks, store locations closed, and a million more reasons to not invest in Marketing in the short-term.
But before cutting your investment, consider how Marketing can re-charge your business batteries to re-start and re-gain your pre-Corona momentum. Instead of simply un-plugging Marketing (some portion or all of it for a period of time), could you shift the tactical focus to better address the current (think: new) reality of your customers? Could investments be made that better address consumer needs now, that didn’t exist just a few weeks ago, and thus put you and your brand in better position to accelerate revenue as local economies begin to re-open?
Turning Up the Dimmer Switch
So how do you address your bottom-line needs in a crisis? The first place we suggest is to optimize your Marketing investment by making every dollar count.
Data Hygiene: Restart your efforts with clean and accurate consumer/customer data. If you are using a CRM system, chances are your inputs are dated and therefore your outputs (direct mail, social media, e-mail and more) are being deflected or totally missing the mark.
Best Customer Profile: With the chaos of Corona, chances are your ‘best customer’ may look different than he/she did just 6 months ago. This shift will definitely impact whom and where you want to prospect.
Improve your Customer Segmentation: Refining your customer segments with better targeting through increased pixilation of data will improve your commercial ROI with the right message for each target.
Brooks Integrated Marketing (www.brooksim.com) and ProspectsIM (www.prospectsIM.com) have all the resources you need to effectively, efficiently and economically power-up your efforts to re-engage your revenue sources. Call us today at 800.531.2601