Isn’t a recession the best time to invest in online marketing?

One of my favourite (almost definitely apocryphal) quotes of all time is “I know half of my advertising budget is wasted – I just don’t know which half” as it sums up all of the issues with offline marketing.

In a time of recession therefore it strikes me as logical that you should be investing in online marketing more than offline, for many reasons:

  • Online marketing is inherently more measureable than offline marketing: you should never be in a position where you are unable to prove direct return-on-investment for any activity you undertake.
  • Online marketing is there when people want it – but it does not try and batter them into submission with what I call the megaphone-monologue model of interruption offline marketing.  Visitors to your website are like customers in your shop standing there with their wallets open, saying “how much for the blue one?”.  Time is the single most precious resource online: if you go out of your way to give your visitors what they want (whilst making sure that in so doing you are still making a profit) then you will only make more money.  One of the inherent problems is websites run by offline marketers that think that they still need to shout at their visitors when they arrive.  Here’s a hint: when someone comes to your site you already have their attention! – stop shouting and give them what they want, not what you think they want.
  • In a recession you want to be able to market to the widest possible area – and online marketing is by definition global.
Spend your money on online marketing – and if necessary insist that the return on investment is provable and orders of magnitude greater than the sum invested.  When I used to run my own company I was able to make the proud and true boast that every website I had ever launched (where the customer followed my advice) made more money in the first 6 months than it cost.  And this was true for non-ecommerce sites where the deal needed to be completed off the site: the sites were there simply as a way of generating leads – they couldn’t actually close the deal.
When you can prove that each pound or dollar invested makes 3 or 4 back, then why on Earth invest in any other type of marketing?

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