In uncertain economic times, marketing talent may seem like the easiest thing to cut. However, the savviest businesses understand that during a downturn or recession, marketing is a non-negotiable budget item.
“Companies that have bounced back most strongly from previous recessions usually did not cut their marketing spend, and in many cases actually increased it,” report Nirmalya Kumar, Lee Kong Chian Professor of Marketing at Singapore Management University and a Distinguished Academic Fellow at INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute, and Koen Pauwels, Distinguished Professor of Marketing at Northeastern University and co-director of its Digital, Analytics, Technology and Automation (DATA) Initiative.
They cite the following marketing areas and research as proof:
- R&D should keep going: Products launched during a recession have both higher long-term survival chances and higher sales revenues.
- Pricing is hard to get right: Companies that engage “see-sawing” their prices as demand increases lose more market share than those that don’t.
- Advertise to survive: Increasing advertising when others are cutting back can help you bounce back faster.
The HT Group Marketing Manager Rachel Orovio agrees, adding that investing in your marketing teams during lean times means investing in visibility.
“And increasing visibility when others are pulling back can result in huge market share gains,” she says. “There’s a widely shared study that found those who advertised aggressively in past recessions—increasing their ad spend by an average of 48%—experienced virtually double the market share gains of their competitors.”
But, Orovio acknowledges, reinvesting in the marketing status quo or relying on what has been done in the past can be dangerous.
“There is no roadmap for brands in the COVID era, which is why investing in marketing talent right now might be the most important thing you can do,” she says.
She points to advice from experts like Tanya Joseph, managing director at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, who says that purpose and transparency will be central to rebuilding brands. And finding that purpose can’t be done in a vacuum. It requires marketing expertise and fresh perspective.
“Good leaders will demonstrate their strength by acknowledging they need help and then collaborating with others to get to the right place,” Joseph writes.
The HT Group has several resources to help including our executive search team of recruiters who can find the talent you need. If you’re unsure on what direction to take, consider a conversation with an HT Cares! executive advisor who can help guide you.
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