Of late it's been nothing but doom 'n gloom here in the publishing business. Many are hurting and many heads are already rolling. To say the least, most organizations are skeptical of big marketing and advertising spends in these lean times. That tends to hurt us where it counts most.
Lately there's been much dialog about what to do, how to act, how to survive or how to just get away from it all. Publishers are frantically trying to cut costs without having to throw the baby out with the bath water. Are we to be reduced to blogging for food, one asks?
We think not. By the numbers, the smart money stays put. Here's why.
Gawker Media's dark lord, Nick Denton, recently offered some rather melancholic guidance for handling the projected decline in marcom budgets. On the other shore, Paul Dunay, of MarketingProfs, tells us that in order to win big in tough economic times, one must play keep one's steel and stay in the game.
Truth be told, we have no idea what's around the corner for web publishing. Many of us have some pretty good guesses, but as far as the web is concerned, anything could happen.
Play Big, Win Big?
Denton says that “Anyone who isn’t prepared for ads to go down 40 percent is crazy.” While online advertising is still projecting growth in most markets, it's down considerably -- with the average price dropping 11 percent in the last quarter.
Denton's solution? Well, there are many, but he does advocate giving marketers more bang for their buck. Larger banner ads, more ads per page, conspicuous sponsored posts. It has worked for baseball stadiums and race cars -- maybe it can work for blogs and newspapers as well.
Dunay might encourage advertisers to take advantage of such exposure. If only they weren't apt to be so conservative with their dollars. The advertising industry, while likely to pretend it follows a careful and calculated strategy, is really akin to gambling.
Who really knows what demographic is going to respond to what ad? According to this article in The New York Times, recent web marketing "analysis suggests that it is not an ad’s brilliant tagline but its pale-yellow background and sans serif font that attracts customers." With that in mind, why not take the plunge?
Advertising in Past Recessions
Dunay encourages advertisers to heed the results of a McGraw-Hill Research study of over 600 businesses. The study found that businesses that maintained or increased their ad spend during 1981-82 averaged higher sales growth during the recession and in the following 3 years. The kicker is that sales for these companies increased 256% over those companies that had cut back on advertising during the downturn. Similar things happened in 2001.
Take a Gamble and Experiment
Maybe gambling isn't the most precise term to use -- although that industry seems to be recession-proof. Perhaps experimenting is more on target. If there ever was a time to try anything and everything, it's now. Who knows what will work? The Internet is still young, relatively speaking. We still look to the 1930s for how to handle the current economic crisis. Looking back 10 years won't yield much wisdom.
Denton advocates diversifying the way you work from 4-day work weeks to outsourcing. Re-negotiate contracts with vendors, collaborate more, predict less. Whatever you do, just don't do nothing. Nothing is not a solution for success.
Staying buried, hoping that this will all be over soon might work -- if by over you mean shut down.