I have received several emails from colleagues and peers in the industry wondering ‘why I have been dark’ on my blog for the past two months.
Like many marketing and communications professionals I have been heads down in business - making adjustments to programs and activities for the remainder of 2008 and planning for 2009.
To say the least, the affects of the financial crises and daunting uncertainty across global markets has put significant pressure on companies to aggressively manage both the bottom line (expenses and operational budgets) and top line growth (sales and revenue generation). This intensive thrust to ‘back to basics’ management impacts all departments and organizations. Managers are required to make adjustments to their operations to become laser focused and efficient AND deliver more value and results (and some cases - much more) with less resources (and in some cases - much less).
These circumstances pose a number of challenges for many marketing and communications professionals to adapt to.
I personally have an optimistic view of the situation. Looking back at history, the market goes through a correction once every 10-15 years (e.g. recession in the late 80s; and the dot.com bubble bust in 2001). Our current situation is definitely the worst ‘correction’ in several decades, but nonetheless a correction it is.
Although tough and challenging to go through, what history shows is that numerous product, service and technology innovations tend to emerge out of each market correction or crisis. All of which fuel new business models and market and career opportunities. These innovations come (in part) through a flushing of inefficiencies, consolidation of ‘players/companies,’ and a refocus on creating and providing more value. The companies that plan and adapt appropriately will be the big winners (both old and new companies).
As a communications executive, I see this as a great opportunity. The power of thought leadership, relationships and collaborative industry influence that largely extends from programs driven by communications departments is a great ‘currency’ that gains tremendous value in any economic recession or down turn. As communication practitioners, our role in helping to guide the market renewal process is critical.
What do I mean?
The results delivered through well structured communication and influence programs do not require huge budgets or mega teams to drive.
The effects of positive ‘unpaid media,’ external thought leadership and word-of-mouth and advocacy programs delivered through successful press, analyst, blogger, customer, employee, community and other influencer relations programs costs very little to execute AND generates very high returns for your company. The benefits can be realized through the advancement of your company’s competitive position; positive reputation management; validation of new market/business opportunities; and 3rd party education, thought leadership and best practices that increase visibility and confidence that your business is a valuable and smart investment (for shareholders, customers, partners and employees).
Further to this, the use of existing technologies and social media strategies (among other things) offer marketing and communication professionals a tremendous and low cost way to disseminate messages with great scale and build awareness and maintain relationships with influencers (internal and external) in an increasingly global and dynamic business environment.
I believe that 2009 will bring a number of significant and positive changes to the marketing and communication profession. I predict that we will see greater adoption and more innovative use of social media; new designs of communication and marketing organizations that adapt to a new influence ecosystem; more focus on customer and ‘community’ engagement; new metrics and measurement designs; and increased ‘insight’ programs to support corporate decision making. These changes will contribute to a much needed renewal of marketing and communications that will help to evolve our profession to become more strategic, vibrant and valued across all industry sectors and geographies.
I encourage all of my industry peers and colleagues to take advantage of this opportunity with an optimistic outlook. Challenge yourselves to better understand your business and industry environment.
Look for new opportunities to provide value. Understand how to better use the ‘process’ of communications and the power of relationships to advance your company’s position in the industry and drive positive awareness, thought leadership and confidence back into the market! And lastly - be bold, be proactive, and be proud!!!