Marketing During A Recession: The Illusion Of Stability

Yesterday, I outlined how a recession can provide marketing opportunities. In thinking about the ever shifting economic markets, I wonder how marketers in particular should approach the idea of stability in the first place.

It doesn't matter whether you are a college senior majoring in marketing or a small business owner or a brand manager at a multi-national corporation - if you get lazy and stop learning, you will make yourself obsolete.

Marketing is changing everyday, both in philosophy (emphasis on pull rather than push) and pragmatically (marketing becoming more entwined with technology, for instance). It is integral to your success to keep learning.

After all, there will never be a time when you understand everything and can finally get down to work. You must start today because marketing will never be stable again (if it ever was).

Seth Godin On Stability

Seth Godin outlines the pace of marketing and the idea of an stability in marketing in his most recent book, Tribes. Here is a brief quote:

"Stability is an illusion.

Marketing changed the idea of stability. It's human nature. We still assume the world is stable, still assume that Google will be #1 in five years, and that we'll type on keyboards, and fly on airplanes, that China will keep growing, and that the polar icecap won't really be melted in six years. And we're wrong.

We're wrong because the dynamics of marketing and storytelling, and the incessant drumbeat of advertising, have taught us to be restless in the face of stability and the internet just amplifies this lesson...Today the market wants change. The market demands change." -Seth Godin, Tribes, audiobook 24:24

There will never be stability in marketing, which is also part of the fun. With new products, epiphanies, and technologies forever on the horizon, you can be assured you will never be bored.

But, if you are adverse to instability or change, marketing - especially marketing in the new digital landscape - may not be for you. If you are already in the industry and want to succeed, I highly recommend embracing instability and your job of managing the risks inherent in a marketing career.

Joseph Jaffe And Paul Gillin On Change

Marketing is a different career path than most. Many marketers have become lazy over the years, banging out the same lame marketing brochures, the same uninspired copywriting, the same screaming car salesman radio ads. And they could mostly get by until now.

Now, "same" is synonymous with "lame." Remember Godin? "The market demands change." This includes a change in the marketing you produce.

From Joseph Jaffe in Deliver magazine:

"Instead of taking bold chances, we have become seduced by the promise of glory and reward that comes from sticking with the status quo. We have failed to manage risk. And in doing so, we have also failed to manage another unavoidable reality of our industry: change."

It's no surprise why some marketers are intimidated. A slew of new technologies and relatively sudden growth of the online channel have left many paralyzed. Paul Gillin mentions this in Secrets of Social Media Marketing when he says "This dizzying pace of change has prompted many marketers to sit on the sidelines until some winners emerge" (page 17). The sad truth is that you won't be one of the winners if you do that.

Our Imperative

As marketers, we are called on to manage risk, not to mitigate it (hat tip to Jaffe for the turn of phrase). We're lucky - we get to play and test and learn every single day. If you're not ready to do that, it's time to turn in your badge.

Tomorrow, I will delve more into the idea of risk and how marketers must handle it. I hope you enjoy this series about marketing during a recession. If so, I encourage you to subscribe so you won't miss a post.


If you enjoyed this post, consider signing up for free updates via email or RSS. Otherwise, I hope you share it on StumbleUpon, Mixx, or the other social media tools found below.

(Image courtesy of via Flickr)