Recession? What recession?

Recently, my pal @MarketerBlog drew my attention to this post which suggested that brands that INCREASE their marketing/ad spending during a recession stand to gain a SUBSTANTIAL competitive advantage.

Skeptical? Of course you are. Still—take a moment to consider these tasty data points (from Innovating through a Recession by Professor Andrew J. Razeghi at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University):

  • Increasing advertising spending during economic expansion often yields no improvement in market share, because 80% of your competitors are also increasing their spending.
  • Businesses that maintained or increased their advertising spend during recession averaged higher sales growth during the following three years
  • Within four years, the businesses that maintained or increased their advertising spend during that recession experienced a 256% growth in sales over those that had cut back on advertising
  • A decade later, aggressive recession advertisers increased market share 2½ times the average for all businesses during the post-recession

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. It’s your basic, “Buy Low, Sell High!” strategy. Nothing new here. The problem aint that we don’t know better… it’s that we’re too busy behaving like lemmings to do what we know is right.

Hell, even the guys at The Economist are preaching a “spend more on advertising” strategy. Granted, they might just be hurting for sales… Still, they make some pretty compelling points in this well-designed, cleverly-executed pitch (worth a read, I promise):

My take-away message? Getting through this ‘recession thang’ is a bit like driving through a blizzard. When you hit a patch of ice, instinctively, you want to turn your wheels AWAY from the direction of the skid. DON’T. Even though your knuckles are turning white and every cell in your body is screaming “TURN AWAY!!!!! AWAYYYYYYY, YOU IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Turn IN to the skid—or kiss your sweet, scared ass goodbye.

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The Holy Grail of Marketing

Golden goblet

In the past, I’ve been more than a little outspoken about the potential impact of social media as a marketing and brand-building tool. And I’ve taken my fair share of abuse from traditional marketers who’ve accused me of being stupid, drunk, insane, or all of the above (love you guys!)—but I stood my ground.

Today, I’m here to tell you not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

First of all, babies don’t like that.

Second, while the value and impact of social media as a tool for connecting with current and prospective customers continues to gain momentum (and validation!), there’s still something to be said for taking a strategic, integrated approach to building and maintaining your brand.

The truth? Some tools are better than others. For some audiences. And some products. Sometimes.

And sometimes you won’t know which marketing program will get you the best result—until you’ve tried and either failed or succeeded.

Products change. Times change. People change. Technology changes. Your job? Keep on your toes and always, always be improving.

But Genius, do you still think traditional advertising is f**ked?

Yes. And no.

Yes, it’s under threat like never before.

No, it’s not going to go away completely. Rather, it will EVOLVE. So, get ready.

My point? There aint no silver bullets, people. If you’re looking for the Holy Grail of Marketing, stop. Social Media is awesome, but it’s not going to cure cancer. And it aint going to save you from recession-induced “downsizing” if you don’t know your marketing basics from your butt crack.

So let’s review. The Basics (Genius-Style):

  • Know your audience. Don’t assume, because we all know what happens when you ass-u-me. Actually get to know them. Social media is an excellent tool for that, by the way!
  • Set clear, measurable goals. “Generate more revenue” is not a measurable goal. Just sayin’.
  • Be strategic first; tactical second. If this statement makes no sense to you, go to amazon.com and buy yourself a copy of Marketing for Dummies. Please.
  • Don’t think “marketing”; think “entertainment”. Think “value”. We’re over-saturated,  over-multi-tasked, and over-tired of being marketed to. The only chance in hell you stand of making an impact through marketing is by weaving real value into the marketing itself. Entertainment value, competitive value, social value, functional value, expressive value… any or all of the above will do.
  • Plan. Yes, plan! In writing! So other native-speakers can understand it! YAY!
  • Test. Live and breathe data. If it works—do it again. Do it bigger, better, faster. If it doesn’t—cut bait.
  • Never, ever, EVER sacrifice design. Don’t even get me started on this one.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just try not to make the same old ones.
  • Give people something to talk about. Often.

Don’t get me wrong: I love social media. I’d rather give up chocolate than Twitter. I can hardly restrain myself from getting on my soapbox when the question, “What the f**k is social media?” is asked.

At the same time, I don’t believe in “One Size Fits All” marketing. And as a Genius—and a female one at that—you KNOW I’m always right.

At least we agree on something. 😉

The 2008 Bonafide Genius Awards

I decided this morning that if I must tolerate this brazenly idiot-ridden world day in and torturous day out, the LEAST I can do as a Bonafide Genius is acknowledge the scant flecks of brilliance that do occasionally grace my horizon.

In fact, I’ve decided to do more than acknowledge—I’m going to celebrate them, goddammit! If MTV can give out awards to the morons that claim 15 minutes of embarassing fame on Reality TV, then by golly, a Genius such as I can preside over her own goddamn award ceremony!

And so… the Annual Bonafide Genius Awards are born. Official 2008 Awards to be announced on August 8, 2008 (Get it? 8/8/08. Oh so genius, yes?)

I’ll happily consider nominations… post them in the comments or email them to me (mzkagan99 [at] gmail [dot] com). Please include the relevant Genius category (ie is it advertising genius? marketing genius? fashion genius? musical genius? foodie genius? etc.).

And just in case the lot of you are both stupid and lazy, I’ll throw in the first few nominations myself:

Music Video Genius:
Weezer, Pork & Beans video

Brand/Business Strategy Presentation Genius:
The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy & Design

Future Predictions/Conspiracy-Theory Genius:
Prometeus – The Media Revolution

…And now… I am spent!

Bon nuit, my dear friends.