Marketing Differently In A Recessionary Economy

These sure are tough times for marketers. The economy is tanking. Marketing budgets are under pressure. Consumers, already jaded by the thousands of daily ad messages, are tuning out. Many brand marketers have all but given up on the possibility of growth in this economy.


This is an aggravating advertising environment that has become increasingly challenging over the past several years. Brands are using significantly more channels to reach consumers than they did five years ago, and those channels, designed for narrower audiences, require unique styles of creative messaging.

Agencies, on the other hand, have not significantly changed or altered their traditional creative production approach (or their costs). With increased clutter and the same old approaches, there are fewer "breakthrough" commercials coming out.

Marketers across the country are cutting back programs, pruning budgets and squeezing suppliers. But, while slash-and-burn tactics are okay, they don't grow the business.



So what's a marketer to do in this recessionary economy? Go gently into that good night? Of course not! Now is the time for growth and gaining competitive advantage; now is the time to do something different.

First, you better start getting creative, in particular, as it pertains to your creative. Here's something different -- crowdsourcing. Coined by Jeff Howe in a 2006 article in Wired magazine, and blown out in his book of that name, crowdsourcing is the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call. It is a method of generating ideas and materials from a broad spectrum of interested bystanders, and using their input to meet business needs.

Crowdsourcing can be used to develop creative to supplement your marketing plan's needs. There are hundreds of thousands of talented creators online who are young, independent, energetic and excited about your brand. Let them take a stab at filling in the gaps created by budget cutbacks.

In return, you'll get:

  • Creative at about a tenth of the cost of traditional approaches (agencies, production houses).
  • Multiple executions for each assignment to choose from, often dozens of fully executed videos.
  • A variety of different, interesting and often offbeat approaches to the same creative brief.
  • Creative with good production values, but creative that is "real," versus overly produced and ridiculously glamorous portrayals of cheeseburgers.

We are not talking about running contests, with $100,000 prizes for an ice cream bar video, or a pile of money for a ketchup commercial. This isn't about a thousand YouTube submissions and weeding through the junk. We're talking about crowdsourcing to a large, talented group of independent videographers and filmmakers who are anxious to have their skills recognized and their work purchased by major brands and advertisers. Crowdsourcing is about reaching out to talented creators, and reaping the benefit for your brand.

Then what can you do with all this great creative? Here are some examples:

One major beverage brand had a wildly successful campaign on television that was "the talk of the town." They needed more of these fun executions for the Internet, but couldn't afford $400,000 productions. So they crowdsourced and bought four for less than $50,000.

Another company wanted to launch a movie by being everywhere on the Internet. They crowdsourced and bought ten pieces of creative and ran them on every video sharing site, generating lots of impressions and lots of hype, for under $60,000.

A third brand hasn't advertised on television in years, due to the high cost of creative. They crowdsourced and obtained a handful of edgy, broadcast ready commercials which are currently running on their Web site, and on the top video sharing sites, all for a mere fraction of the cost.

And a fourth brand, a small little-know Web start-up, crowdsourced videos and received hundreds of thousands of views online and a spike in visits to its Web site, all for a fraction of it what this would have cost through traditional means.

So get creative about creative!

Do something DIFFERENT, and rage, rage against the dying of the light!

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