A recent study from Digiday revealed some interesting trends in terms of brands' marketing spend - namely that the tough economic climate has little to no impact on the use and value of marketing. The study highlighted the fact that 64% of Digital Marketing and Media Professionals intend to increase their brand spending in 2012; 66% of which plan on increasing the overall spend by a minimum of 10% compared with 2011.
71% of agencies claim their advertising budgets have grown since last year, with well over half of those budgets being allocated to brand advertising. This level of online brand advertising is in stark contrast to the traditional brand emphasis on Direct Response marketing. Companies are finally starting to realise that brand uplift is brought about gradually and not instantly - marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.
These trends are not exactly indicative of an unparalleled global recession, and considering the difficulty in analysing marketing ROI this comes as somewhat of a suprise. The fact of the matter is quite simple though - with most customers trying their best to limit themselves to mostly essential purchases, it has never been more important to have a strong and respected brand identity, which is synonymous with quality and value for money. This can only really be achieved through maintaining an integrated marketing campaign, with a hefty focus on brand advertising.
Pepsico, the world's largest snack-food manufacturer, recently demonstrated their emphasis on brand marketing by axing up to 8,700 of their global workforce in order to free up more of their overall budget for marketing. This has resulted in an increased projected marketing spend of roughly $600million by 2014. Obviously not all companies have $multi-million budgets, but the principle remains true across most companies - sustained marketing spend is absolutely crucial to ongoing success. The real challenge is identifying ways in which you can cut costs in other areas, so that marketing spend doesn't become an all-consuming black hole for your overall budget.
One thing that modern technology has brought us is the unstoppable rise of social media. As a stand-alone marketing strategy, it is very difficult to quantify the level of success; however when incorporated into a fully integrated strategy it is quite clearly a beneficial tool. Brands currently find themselves at somewhat of a social media precipice, if they haven't already adopted a social media campaign then it is undoubtedly time to do so. In this day and age, it is almost unheard of for a reputable brand to not maintain an online presence; whether that is a regularly updated website, Facebook Brand page, Twitter feed or similar. Facebook and Twitter in particular provide organisations' access to the widest possible target audience, at a fraction of the cost (none at all, in most cases) of traditional marketing mediums such as radio, television or magazines. Time is money though, of course - so while a social media presence might cost you little to no money to register, the ongoing maintenance will tie up an awful lot of man-hours (if done properly).
In summary, marketing spend is indeed recession proof. If anything, the focus on brand marketing is enhanced during harsh economic times such as these. With such fierce competition in almost every marketplace, brands are constantly looking for ways to innovate and help with brand uplift. A brand can very quickly be forgotten and move down the pecking order if they do not maintain a public presence that is better than; or at least equal to their rivals. This can only be truly achieved with constantly evolving marketing campaigns.