If you’re anything like me, your brain will have been working overtime this past week trying to work out what the long-term implications of the referendum will be. Frankly, despite much mental exertion, I am still awaiting a damascene moment. I am as uncertain as everyone else. Herein, of course, lies the problem. From the big question of what exactly our future relationship with the European Union will look like to the leadership vacuum within the Tory party and the outcome of the now likely general election, not to mention the possible breakup of the United Kingdom, uncertainty abounds.
For UK PLC, uncertainty is not in anyway edifying, as witnessed by the turmoil in the stock market and sharp drops in the value of sterling. Uncertainty tends to lead to caution and caution means a keener eye on costs. Marketing is still seen as an operational cost by many companies and is therefore at risk of being cut. Indeed, GroupM, WPP ‘s media investment business, issued a forecast ahead of the vote predicting a £220m drop in advertising spend this year in the event of a Leave vote.
It would be naïve of me to predict companies will not cut budgets, particularly while the murk of uncertainty remains. Marketing, however, is in a much better place in 2016 than it was in 2008 when the unprecedented financial crash caused panic and the axe to fall. Data has made marketers more accountable, while a general sense that they must do more in talking about marketing through the prism of business objectives means there are now many more enlightened companies that see marketing as a revenue generator not a cost to be cut.
I have as much of a clue of how this will play out as the next guy, however expert they are. What I do know is that the need to market your product or service is as it ever was. Indeed, it may even throw up new opportunities to define your place in the world, as our analysis shows. If it means demonstrating more evidence of efficiency and effectiveness of spend, more business acumen and a reallocation of budgets here and there, so be it, marketers are getting pretty good at it.