Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My Best Work Is Done In A Recession

This is from my Mediapost Spin column two weeks ago, but the message is positive and I thought maybe you'd like to check it out, too!


It’s my first post of the New Year and I have to say I’m pretty optimistic! I know the economy sucks and I know that most media pundits are forecasting 2009 and possibly 2010 will be down period for everything, but I was thinking about it and I realized I think we do our best work in a Recession. I know I do!

I got started back in 1994 and 1995 in advertising and the pundits said the outlook was grim back then, but along came the Internet and opened a whole wide world of opportunity for those of us with some foresight and little tendency towards risk. A little company called i-Traffic became one of the early agency success stories and off we went! Then the bubble burst back in 2000 and our little corner of the world went “pop” again, all except for another agency success story called Freestyle Interactive. Now it’s 2009 and things are once again looking grim but once again I smell opportunity and it’s got me pretty excited!

Challenges are also opportunities and in order to succeed you have to have the right attitude. A down economy means that people are looking for new, innovative ways to achieve the success they had when things were easier and simpler. It’s easy to build a brand when you have lots of money to spend, but how do you build a brand when the money dries up? It’s easy to spread a message when you can afford to pay a small army to evangelize on your behalf or when you can buy ad placements and achieve a 75% share of voice, but fewer dollars translates to more creativity and more innovative ideas; that’s the opportunity we have again today.

It can be a hustle, and not everyone is built to hustle. You have to be willing to fail and you have to be willing to hear the word “no” a lot. You have to be willing to break some eggs to make that omelet and you have to be capable of picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and starting over. These are all clichés, but clichés exist for a reason; they are all typically tried and true.

In a down economic climate where ad spending is in jeopardy, better deals can be negotiated and your dollar can go much farther. The current outlook suggests that CPM’s may still fall, or at the very least stabilize. They will not increase this year, and if you have money to put into the marketplace than you can negotiate some very interesting deals on behalf of your business. Additionally, you can negotiate stronger bonus weight and more integrated special opportunities and even free months worth of activity, thereby extending a campaign or filling in continuity efforts. These are very effective strategies for supplementing your standard impression buys and drive effectiveness where you may not have been able to do so previously.

Most importantly, get beyond the money and get into the fundamentals lines of communication. Marketing can be viewed very simply as making connections between a brand and its prospective customer. It can also be looked as a means of providing a solution for an existing problem. This time of year we see all sorts of ads running as solutions to your standard New Year’s resolutions (getting in shape, saving money, learning a new language). There are many ways to reach that prospective customer that don’t require a substantial ad spend, but rather a focus on non-paid or even non-standard paid media to meet the needs of the customer. Use Twitter and conversational media or use video in a new and interesting fashion! Think of the power of integration into a show by the host rather than the standard companion ad that may or may not be seen.

Everyone thinks they know what’s going to happen in the next few months but the truth is they have absolutely no idea. I say that you should stop listening to people like me proclaim that we know what ad spend is going to look like and instead focus your attention on how you can become more innovative. If you stop reading and start acting, you’ll probably do your best work. I know that’s my plan, and it’s proven to be successful in the past!

Here’s to 2009!

1 comment:

Amanda said...

The "industry's #1 Pearl Jam fan" runs what looks to be an exciting marketing/advertising business. Please let me know if you're accepting resumes.