Allocating Marketing Resources After the Recession

Marketing Strategists' Mental Minefields

So you've been marketing in a recession. You made the necessary adjustments in your marketing mix, shed unprofitable customers and focused in on your most revenue-now marketing initiatives. Here we'll describe some ways that you can take steps today to ensure that your business performs well on the upswing.

Get your mind right.

As we've noted before, thoughts turn into actions. So to get results as a strategist on the flip side of the recession, your mind has to be reprogrammed. Needless to say, step 1 in allocating marketing resources after the recession is to get your mind right.

It's been well cited that the longer and deeper a recession is, the more likely consumers will adjust their attitudes and behaviors permanently. Their coping mechanisms may become ingrained and define a new normal.

This is a mental minefield that consumers are prone to and you may be aware of.

But what marketing strategists often fail to consider is that the way they strategize may have adjusted as well. For instance, if your CEO has been urging you to only spend on short-term performance initiatives for the past year, then it may have changed your philosophy more than you realize.

This is a real phenomena, folks, and if you intend on making the right maneuvers now to capitalize on competitor weaknesses, then there are three types of mental minefields you need to be aware of.

  • The Mindfulness Trap - Even if you were to draft a sensational, well-balanced marketing strategy, there will be times when (a) the boat is rocked and you'll have to make adjustments and/or (b) your CEO is mandating that you need to cut back to initiatives that "only perform" (i.e. short run marketing). The tendency to be pulled into a short-term perspective by the pressure of daily activities. This scenario is very likely and you'll have to be mindful of where your actions are germinated from.
  • The Cognitive Trap - Under duress, most marketing strategists will make the assumption that short-run marketing initiatives and long-run marketing initiatives exist in an either-or world. That is, if you run branding, then you can't run PPC. Nonsense! Nothing exists in a vacuum, and budget is a large component of marketing, you can have your cake and eat it too. This is where principles such as hedging marketing bets come into play.
  • The Self-Knowledge Trap - Henry Mintzberg, a pioneering management scholar, once demonstrated that managers often see themselves as strategic visionaries, though in practice they spend a remarkably small proportion of their time on anything strategic. Instead, they focus more on transactional activities. The trap here is that there is a disparity between what marketing strategists think and what they actually do. This isn't to say that you shouldn't be executing on tasks, but if you think tactically more so than strategically, then you may have a problem. This trap is perhaps the one we encounter the most during our Executive Education courses.

- Johnny Chan, CMO, eBoost Consulting

What I encourage you to do today is a self-audit on which trap(s) you are most prone to. Increased self-awareness inevitably leads to improved leadership.

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