First off, I do not claim to be an economist, but in my role as CEO, I pay close attention to a variety of market dynamics. Everyone has varying opinions, but I feel the United States has just entered a depression for a number of reasons and I feel it is not going to get better anytime soon. One thing that everyone can agree on is that it will be a tough year for a lot of people and businesses. In the realm of marketing and advertising, budgets are being slashed but a need exists for companies to continue to market during these precarious times.
More than ever, I advocate marketers to take a serious look at interactive tools and tactics. Budgets have been showing a gradual shift from traditional to interactive forms of marketing but it's time to accelerate this trend. Why? Because interactive marketing is by far more cost-effective, quicker to adapt to new strategies and it just works.
The two tools I highly recommend that all businesses utilize (besides having a website of course) is search marketing and email. These are the two big staples of online marketing. Email is by far the least expensive and highest driver of ROI. The Direct Marketing Association has been tracking email over several years and even though the ROI is on a slow downward trend, it is still the best performer returning $45.06 for every dollar spent. Despite the fact that email returns the highest ROI, it typically accounts for a tiny fraction of marketing budgets. Even with direct marketers, the DMA reports that email only accounts for 0.4% of their overall budget. I attribute this to people not understanding how broadly and effectively they can use the channel and the extremely low cost of the medium itself. Hear this marketers, add an email line item to your budget! If you have the line item, increase it! Use your marketing dollars wisely on a proven channel that delivers the highest ROI.
Search Marketing has proven itself as a main staple in the fact that approximately half of all online marketing dollars are spent on search. It's becoming such a powerful medium, recent studies have proven that it even has positive branding effects which is truly amazing. Not only is search a cost-effective tool, the mindset of the consumer while interacting with the medium cannot be beat. Consumers are actively searching or looking for what they want and the companies that are utilizing search are capitalizing on being in the right place at the right time in front of these consumers.
Overall, I encourage marketers to explore a wide variety of interactive tools. But at the very least I strongly urge them to increase their search and email marketing efforts. Cut the wasteful, vaguely measurable traditional forms. We'll see if this depression turns into "The Greater Depression" but opportunity still exists in the marketplace. The world is not grinding to a standstill. People still need to offer each other products and services to live and get through the day. It's just going to be a very large and extended transition of conducting business in the 21st century.