April 10 2009 – Sudbury, MA
While SimplyDIRECT regrets the pain of the current chilly economic climate, it sees signs that the climate is already warming. There are segments in the market that are healthier than others, either lagging the crisis, emerging from it, or immune to it. The challenge is to find those segments and market directly to them.
There are two approaches we see among marketing departments in this environment: one is a ‘hunker down’ mentality, and the other is to ‘invest now to kill those who are hunkering down.’ The latter is aggressive and gutsy, but history is filled with stories of how this can work.
There are several reasons the “invest now” approach succeeds.
First off, there are segments that are relatively prosperous and buying. Government seems to have the appetite to buy. Healthcare anticipates a delirious carnival of new spending. Engineering, design and construction are poised for a renaissance. Organizations fearful of waking up to CNN with breaking news about security breeches are frightfully ready to invest. Don’t buy into the myth that nobody’s buying.
Second, marketing professionals, vendors, partners… all are on their toes right now, so programs will more likely be designed and guided by highly-motivated, highly-focused individuals who are painfully aware that upper management will not tolerate waste, slackers or unsubstantiated results. We have all elevated our game.
Third, marketing dollars go further in this economy. Why? Pricing is down, and vendors, suppliers, consultants are open to making deals. No need to be predatory – a dependable vendor driven to extinction does no one any good – but everyone understands that discounting is to be expected in such times.
Fourth, it is a time when any marketing program tacitly communicates to the market that the company is healthy, confident and forward-looking. “Going dark” during this period helps confirm suspicions clients and prospects may have about your organization’s viability. Like gazelles that jump and prance extra high while lions are about, it is a statement that you have a lot of fight in you.
Fifth, it might just drive your competitors to make their own irrational decisions. In 1980, at the height of the Cold War between Russia and the United States, the Russians took one of their supersonic fighters and intentionally flew it through skies they knew were being tracked by US radar. The plane was tuned for high-performance, the pilot flew the fighter at speeds much higher than the plane’s engines could handle, and he returned to his base with a crippled aircraft, its jet engine’s dangerously falling apart from overuse. But the US had tracked its speed as considerably higher than their intelligence thought the Russians capable… and proceeded to try to build their own fighter fast enough to match this performance. It nearly bankrupted the US trying to catch up. Perhaps this is a good time to show off to your competitors, and watch them attempt to catch up, as well.
All of this takes money, for sure. But therein lies the need for programs like SimplyDIRECT’s. If you’re going to try to free up budget, make the argument that every dollar will be spent directly on known buyers. Make sure the list is ‘spot on’. Go with programs where response rates are guaranteed. Leave nothing to chance.
SimplyDIRECT simply doesn’t understand those marketing departments who, in these – or any market conditions – waste money on markets, segments, contacts who are never going to influence or buy their solutions. Broad brush branding is a luxury. And you can’t afford to “boil the ocean” by spewing our large, undisciplined email blasts (it costs plenty to filter through the unqualified responders). Dangling offers using search marketing is a similarly backward approach. If you know ahead of time who can or might buy from you, then compel THEM to respond. Do your branding upon them. Message on their minds. Ask them what their pain is. Segment your pitch onto segments known to resonate with your solution.
So, while you may not afford to boil the ocean, you can affordably laser onto those pockets of prosperity. Boiling oceans is wasteful and should be prevented, but the economic climate is definitely warming in key areas, and you should invest in participating – or helping kick-start – in this warming trend.