In 2009 near the beginning of my coaching career and in the midst of the Great Recession, I had the pleasure of meeting Pam Nolen, owner of Nolen & Associates, a full-service marketing company in metro Atlanta. During one of our meetings, Pam told me about a new marketing concept they had developed called the Cricket Theory.
Weeks earlier Pam had taken her team on a weekend outing to the North Georgia mountains for some quality team building and thinking time. Sitting around the breakfast table after the first evening, one team member complained that they hadn’t got much sleep the night before because of the constant chirping of the crickets. Perhaps the conversation went something like, “Those crickets sure made a ruckus last night." Which was perhaps followed by, “I swear that chirping is still ringing in my ears this morning.”
Someone else followed by saying, “Sure wish we could convince our clients to make that much steady noise – especially during this turbulent economy.” Thus, the cricket theory, was born. The theory states, “make as much noise as possible in dark times…you will be well remembered when it is light again.”
I searched Google for the “importance of marketing during a recession." The search engine returned 40,900,000 results. So, the need to conduct marketing during a recession has been well documented. Here are some thoughts from notable expert organizations:
During recessions it’s more important than ever to remember that loyal customers are the primary, enduring source of cash flow and organic growth. Marketing isn’t optional—it’s a “good cost,” essential to bringing in revenues from these key customers and others. (Harvard Business Review)
"There have been a number of studies going back nearly one century that point out the advantages of maintaining or even increasing ad budgets during a weaker economy. Those advertisers that maintained or grew their ad spending increased sales and market share during the recession and afterwards." (Forbes)
“Evidence pointed to the positive effects of spending on advertising and marketing in an economic downturn - indicating the most successful policy for businesses was actually to increase their marketing efforts!” (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising)
None of these articles specifically referenced the Cricket Theory, but they certainly speak to it. There’s an old adage which says, “when times are good, you should advertise. When times are bad, you must advertise.”
Why Is It So Important to Continue Marketing? The answer lies in the Cricket Theory. When the economy turns for the worse, the common tendency of business owners is to cut costs across-the-board. They’ll cut labor, sales and marketing, and operating costs, which means the amount of marketing noise has dropped significantly in some industries.
Your competitors who stop marketing are hunkering down to wait out the downturn. I teach my clients whenever possible to view the downturn as a great time to be out marketing, because your message will be heard. Remember crickets are heard at night when everything else is quiet. To accept and adapt this principle you need to be proactively looking ahead and positioning your business for coming out of the downturn. When the economy does turn and if you’ve been chirping all along, your customers and prospects will remember and you’ll be that much further ahead of your competitors.
So, What Cost Should Be Cut? I agree, and in fact teach, that during difficult economic times businesses must look to cut costs, but unfortunately, they don’t realize that not all costs are of equal importance. Here’s the order in which I coach my clients to cut:
1. Look to cut or delay those expenses that are unnecessary and not critical to your ongoing operation. Examples could be to delay installing the new system upgrade, or delay moving the office to a large space, or look to cut your inventory costs down to what’s absolutely necessary to run your business efficiently and effectively,
As an aside, labor costs are another cost that get slashed too quickly.
I encourage owners to do everything they can (get creative) in devising ways to keep their team together…to avoid laying people off.
Perhaps reduced hours, suspend bonuses, give them time off etc.
2. Reduce wasteful marketing costs, meaning those marketing expenses which aren’t generating enough of a return. Unless absolutely necessary, don’t cut your marketing costs, which are generating leads and supporting your brand.
I work with business owners to help them cut through the distracting noises that hold them back from growing their businesses. Now is a great time to be getting a leg up on your competition but you have to be in the growth mindset in order to follow the Cricket Theory. If you’d like to discuss your situation schedule a no cost, no obligation 30 minute conversation on my calendar by using my automated appointment scheduler listed below.
Over Jeff Lovejoy's 13 years as a Certified Business Coach with ActionCOACH he has become one of the most recommended business coaches in Atlanta. He specializes in working with successful owners who know their business has more potential, but they don't know how to unleash it.
He guides owners in building superior teams, significantly increasing top and bottom line revenue, managing their time better, and understanding their financial condition, and more.
Schedule time directly on Jeff's calendar here.