How to avoid being damaged in the blitz

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance and, in this post-recession climate, it’s important for marketers not to stray over that notional boundary.

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As the country begins what most commentators believe will be the long climb out of recession onto more stable economic ground, it would be foolish to expect marketing budgets to increase exponentially overnight. Indeed, according to the most recent IPA Bellwether Report, the picture is still looking decidedly shaky.

Released earlier this month, the IPA’s figures revealed that during the second quarter of 2010, total marketing spend fell by 4.6 per cent. This slide in fortunes followed a more rosy-looking rise of 4.5 per cent in the first quarter. The report’s authors also stated that while marketing spend is still set to increase over the course of the whole year, it is unlikely to rise at the pace expected at the beginning of 2010.

Having said all that, there has been some significant variation in spend by channel. While sales promotion and media budgets contracted, direct marketing and internet budgets climbed – positive signs at the more targeted end of the spectrum. Whatever your marketing priorities and chosen channels, it’s clearly still a difficult landscape out there. And while some brands will be keen to ramp up their budgets as soon as they see the light at the end of the tunnel, others will continue to keep a tight rein on marketing activity.

What marketers mustn’t do is let their new-found enthusiasm for spending potentially burgeoning budgets outweigh the common-sense approach of continuing to deliver the right offers to the right people at the right time.

Cash-strapped consumers are going to be mightily miffed if they believe they are being bombarded with unsolicited marketing messages by brands that they have no previous relationship with and no real desire to talk to. Ploughing money back into acquisition to make a quick buck might seem the most simple thing to do with an injection of fresh marketing funds. But it’s imperative that organisations don’t just translate the boardroom and bottom line pressures of finding new customers into carpet bombing people’s doormats.

Instead, marketers should take a more astute approach by ensuring rational campaign planning at the outset. Start by screening the data – especially if it was collected pre-recession. Data cleansing and suppression are critical to optimising any new acquisition drive to make sure marketing is as targeted as it can be, and budgets ultimately aren’t wasted.

The corollary of an acquisition mailing blitz and the subsequent upset it may cause could see consumers detaching themselves from products and services that have got their goat. Fools and their money are soon parted – surely the last thing companies need at the moment is self-inflicted brand damage?

By Keith Jones, head of data strategy, Royal Mail

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