Marketing is a lot like the stock market. When you believe the future is bright, then there is an urgency to increase your investment in order to see a greater return. The problem is, people often wait too long to pull the trigger and end up missing out on the bulk of those opportunities. Whether it is a recession or a global pandemic, a return to normalcy is on the horizon. So, it is always the right time to increase your marketing spend or return to marketing – essentially buying low and selling high.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq are the indexes that track how the market is feeling about our economic future. In marketing, agencies (PR, advertising, digital marketing, etc.) are a lot like these indexes in that they are directly impacted by how companies are feeling about their immediate future. As an example, marketing agencies that saw increases in revenue in 2020 were few and far between. The pullback began even before the first COVID cases hit the U.S., portending what would end up being an unprecedented economic decline.
However, if there was ever light at the end of the tunnel, 2021 foreshadowed a return. For agencies like Rankin PR, 2021 was like a foghorn, calling companies back to the table. Business leaders, who had been sitting on almost an entire year of marketing dollars (or more likely redistributing them to other critical areas), were looking to recapture their voice and began recasting their nets.
The ideal time to invest in marketing is during a slowdown
It turns out there are a lot of ways marketing parallels the stock market. For instance, the best time to invest is before the market begins to catch on. By the time “Joe the Plumber” knows about a stock tip, that price is already “priced-in.”
For example, if you had bought airline stock in 2020, feeling that those rock bottom prices would not last long, then you might be set up to make a killing when the pandemic finally ends and people return to the friendly skies. However, if you wait until people actually start flying again, then you waited too long and likely missed out on the greatest return.
While the pandemic may never be completely behind us, experts are predicting a return to at least a new normal by sometime this summer or early fall. If that is true, then the time to “buy” marketing after covid is now. Part of that urgency is that marketing is not like a water valve; you can’t just turn it on and see a flow of opportunities. It can take several months, or longer, to build the necessary momentum.
Marketing always, in all ways
While business leaders had to make tough choices in 2020, typically the advice from experts is to keep marketing efforts going full speed ahead at all times.
There is an old axiom that says, ‘Over the long run, the stock market always goes up.’ Investors who stay invested tend to fare better than people who are trying to time the market. For marketing the same holds true. On average, companies who dedicate themselves to a long-range marketing mindset outperform companies who tend to buy and sell depending on their impression of what the future holds.
As we wrote in a previous blog, prior to the 1930s the Ford Motor Company was the King Kong of vehicle sales. No competitor, it seemed, would ever catch them. However, at the first signs of what would become The Great Depression, Ford halted all of its marketing efforts in what would go down as a massive blunder.
What happened? Well, GM saw their opportunity and decided to increase their advertising and PR spends. Within the decade GM would overtake Ford to become the largest auto manufacturer in the world – a title it held for more than half a century.
As the old saying goes, “when times are good you should be marketing, and when times are bad you must be marketing.”