Iain Lovatt: Look to data for a safe economic recovery

Iain Lovatt
Iain Lovatt

If we are to believe the latest reports, Britain could finally be climbing out of recession. Figures issued by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research show that growth rose last quarter by 0.2 per cent. This is the first increase in output since May 2008. Furthermore, for the first time in 17 months data suggests that the job market is improving slightly.

Although this sounds highly positive and indeed something to celebrate, the reality is that it is going to take the country a long time before we start the rise to prosperity. Growth is more likely to come in sporadic periods and for a time there will be a chance that we could slide back to negative territory.

So, while it is important we see the latest reports as positive, we need to remain realistic and not confuse the end of the recession as a return to the opulence of a few years ago. The truth is we have got through the worst, but we still have a very hard climb ahead.

I personally see this slow growth as constructive, especially for the marketing community. Instead of witnessing periods of boom and bust, we will hopefully see steady growth of 1 to 1.5 per cent over the next two to three years. This measured progression will allow marketers to plan effectively and with confidence – essential when answering tough questions on spend from the board.

Marketing departments have had a vital shake-up and have had no choice but to reconsider budgets and activity. And while ROI was always of interest and a measured consideration, 2008 saw this become a stark reality. Interestingly data and the intelligence it delivers has for some companies saved the day and allowed marketing departments to undertake campaigns that have actually increased ROI.

The good news is that, over the next few months, we should start to see an increase in response rates as companies continue to grow in confidence. As a result, this will give marketers more opportunity to take calculated risks than they have been at liberty to over the last 12 months. The trick is to do so without over-exposingthemselves again.

No-one wants to witness another crash. To avoid this we must realise the trick is to stick to doing the basics well. Understanding your core client community, whether these are existing or potential clients is the key. Look after your data and your data will look after you.

Iain Lovatt
Executive chairman, Blue Sheep

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