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Middle School Marketing Recap: Marketing in a Recession

Oh boy, it's everyone's favorite topic right now.

The economic slowdown.

But despite all the very real concerns, products still need to be moved, sales need to be made, and companies still need to advertise. As we are all too well aware, the marketing budget ususally the first to get slashed when times are tight. So how do you accomplish more, with less?

The veritable brain trust that is the Middle School Marketing crew tackled just such a topic this week in our monthly meeting.

There are two schools of thought as to how the recession is going to impact markting:

1. The recession will shift less measurable marketing from print and television to more targeted digital channels online.

Or

2. Even if digital outlets fare better, there just isn't any money to go around. 

John Wannamaker, the father of modern advertising, famously said, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." Even in the best of times, developing an optimized marketing strategy is a challenge. During these penny pinching times, the need for the highest bang for your buck is even greater.

While everyone at the table understood the pinch of tighter budgets, spending on anything that cannot be measured just doesn't make sense.

What about the social media marketing strategy in all this? And remember the ancient art of email marketing? Will it see a resurgence?

Does this economy mean companies are less willing to try a new approach? Yes, it's difficult to measure the direct ROI of social media monitoring, but the barrier to entry is low, and with a savvy person on staff armed with a well-oiled blog and Twitter account at the ready (among other social media tools for listening, identifying and engaging in online communities), they can the take advantage of free services to build and strengthen relationships with current and future clients. In fact, pairing a social media strategy in a recession with a measurable online ad buy, may give brands some of their best opportunities to maintain a strong relationship with clients while competing companies are struggling to survive.

Customers are being inundated with sales as the companies struggle to grab our attention. It just might be the relationships that make a difference.

And then there is email. Good old, trusty email. As mentioned in a recent article, "It works, it's cheap, and (your) return is high. It's a safe harbor in troubling times." We expect to see a resurgence of email marketing (Did anyone else's inbox explode over Christmas with "huge sales"?) for all of the aforementioned reasons, and one other key factor: people are comfortable with it. They know it, it's been around. We agree with this strategy, but are less than impressed with many of the emails we're getting these days. It's not just quantity...

Ultimately, those with the creativity (and I stress creativity), talent and determination may not just survive the recession, but in fact thrive where others fail.

What other ideas or tips would you recommend for marketing in a recession?


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