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Plan B: Seven Back-to-Basics Questions to Ask About Your Buyers to Drive Growth

by Kevin Clancy, Peter Krieg  |  
January 26, 2010

According to the 2009 Spencer Stuart survey of more than 300 senior-level marketers, 55% said emphasis on a short-term response to the economic downturn has led them to neglect long-term strategy.

Marketers have to "fight fires by cutting head count, reducing ad budgets, reallocating the spending they do have.... Given the priorities of what they have to do right now, long-term strategy is probably not one of them," reports Tom Selcow, leader of Spencer Stuart's marketing-officer practice.

As the ice blanketing the economic landscape starts to melt, however, marketers are sure to shift at least some of their mental energies away from what to cut out of their budgets to what to do to drive growth and improve return on investment (ROI).

Interestingly, more than 80% of senior marketers also said they believe they're in "good" or "excellent" shape to drive growth once the downturn subsides. Whether or not as many marketers are as prepared as they say they are, one thing's for sure: It won't be business as usual.

Indeed, marketers are unlikely to have the leeway they had pre-recession to spend their way out of flagging brand performance. If you want to drive more sales, the thinking once went, you've got to spend more—25% more, 50% more, double your budget!

In reality, Plan A, pouring dollars into advertising, rarely increases profitability. Sometimes it doesn't even boost sales, and it certainly doesn't guarantee improvements in marketing effectiveness or ROI.

In the current economic climate, it's an irrelevant discussion anyway, because the vast majority of companies don't have the option to spend more.

Enter Plan B: taking a closer look at the basic marketing strategy fundamentals that drive tactical decisions.

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Kevin Clancy is chairman of Copernicus (, a research-driven marketing-consulting firm. Reach Kevin via or 781-392-2500.Peter Krieg is president and CEO of Copernicus (, a research-driven marketing-consulting firm. Reach Peter via or 203-831-2370.

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