Thinking About Reducing Marketing and Advertising During This Down Economy? Perhaps You Should Think Again.

These are interesting times for sure, with many small and large companies making hasty decisions to cut back and, in many cases, to cut out of their budget, the most competitive market tool – advertising.

Companies that are in survival mode should not decrease their advertising spend in the short run. It is an error to assume that customers are not searching for information about a product or service that you can provide. While on the surface, it might seem clear-headed to eliminate marketing activities to protect your firm’s assets, but might we not forget that marketing in general and advertising, in particular, are, in the end, informational devices that drive revenues for the long-run? Everything has a cost, even information, which increases customers’ knowledge of what you offer, location, and price. Advertising identifies sellers to customers and reminds infrequent customers about changes in the state of the market. Companies change what they offer and at what price, along with the changes in customer consumption patterns. Therefore, marketing is an investment, not an expense – this especially rings true for a down economy.

Some say companies that consistently advertise reap significant market benefits more often than competing companies, even during a down economy. Marketing – as far as advertising is concerned – offers firms a market advantage when it comes to customer search costs and brand awareness in the long run. Decreasing marketing and advertising during a down economy comes at a cost to the company and the customer. Cutting advertising diminishes the amount of information in circulation, thereby cutting brand awareness, customer conversions, and unit sales. Essentially, in a COVID economic landscape, firms that do not produce information, i.e., do not advertise and promote their products and services, increase customers’ search costs. In a post-COVID landscape, those firms that decided to decrease marketing and advertising will have created an uphill battle for themselves, making it extremely difficult to break through the noise! If you want to be a market leader, understand that it costs to be the boss!

Marketing is information dissemination, and the firms that do not provide customers with useful information promptly are sure to lose market share, awareness, and customer commitment. Even more costly to the firms that do not advertise during this COVID economy will be the loss of permanence and significance, especially for nascent companies. Newer companies will suffer the errors of not advertising during a down economy in the long run. As opposed to established companies, nascent companies have to break through established brand positions in the market.

Case in point, customers do not know what they need to know unless you tell them – and trust me; they want to know! Without your firm’s marketing, customers will be forced to search and purchase elsewhere. In other words, customers have high time preferences – they want satisfaction now – and added high search costs now will result in a more uncertain future for a company.

Now is the time to be even more vigilant about informing and educating your customers based on specific quality measures, prices, and your offering’s importance to them. Remember, market success is about the delivery of a timely, essential product or service information. Information delivery can be accomplished by incrementally informing customers via content pages, digital campaigns, podcasts, digital marketing, and digital promotions to reap the benefits of digital flexibility that increasingly lower customers’ search costs.

We must also not forget that advertising is a social function. A function that should not be ignored but fulfilled. At the same time, advertising is the primary device in which companies of all types bring forth market opportunities to customers. That is, the information costs incurred by the customer are the driver from not knowing to know. Why would customers cease to accept information from their market providers during a down economy? Do customers cease buying things of importance during a down economy? Brands that are choosing to go dark on marketing must think about the subjective nature of customer value and expectations. Failure to meet expectations in the future will result in long periods of resuscitation going into a post-COVID economy.

There are many new methods on the horizon for you to deliver timely advertising. However, it is best to use the technique most satisfactory to your customer, not to all customers, i.e., customers are different in the information needed. Tailored information delivered to your customer during this slowdown is a moment in time where much ground can be gain in lowering knowledge acquisition costs and increasing rapid-fire production of information. Continuous advertising, during this down economy, enables customer conversions and, at any rate, reduces the information cost for customers who find themselves searching for updates of the state of the changing market.

Knowledge comes at a cost. Therefore, the mistake of not advertising will indeed allow a competitor to reap the benefits of your inaction. Unfortunately, customer information and decision-making often are based on past market conditions. Trust me; your customers will love you for keeping them in mind and lowering their search costs, and showing your commitment to them when times are not so great.


52. Mark Schaefer: The Future of Marketing Is Austrian – How Human-Centered Marketing Can Fix A Business Function That Has Lost Its Way.

This week I spoke with Mark Schaefer about his iconoclastic and deeply insightful book Marketing Rebellion, in which he expounds the solution to modern marketing’s failures, via an approach he calls Human-Centered Marketing.

Listeners to Economics For Entrepreneurs and aficionados of Austrian Economics will recognize the close overlap between Austrian Economics and Human-Centered Marketing.

Key Takeaways & Actionable Insights

Marketing has lost its way – in its current state, it’s no longer a useful business growth tool for entrepreneurs.

  • An obsession with technology has eclipsed the focus on people and human values.
  • A mania for measurement has obscured emotional connections with customers.
  • “Marketers hide behind their dashboards” and are not conducting conversations with customers.

The solution, says Mark Schaefer, lies in the principles of Human-Centered Marketing. Austrians can easily recognize these principles as our own.

Austrian Principles vs Human-Centered Marketing Principles

Click on the image to download the full PDF

The customer-sovereignty perspective yields actionable truths.

  • Customers don’t need ads – they don’t see them, they don’t hear them, they block them.
  • Customers are rebelling against the interrupt-and-annoy approach of marketers.
  • The customer is in charge.

What do customers want from marketers? The answer for Mark Schaefer lies in Core Human Truths – what Austrians call Highest Values.

  • They want to feel loved.
  • They want to be respected
  • They want to belong
  • They want you to advance their self-interest
  • They want proof that a firm or brand is contributing to their community

These are deep human needs that don’t change. Whatever the speed of change in market, these values are constant. Humanism lets marketers hold on to what is not changing, rather than being overwhelmed by change.

Marketing mantras like “loyalty” and “engagement” are false.

  • Customers don’t want to be loyal; they want freedom and choice – they like shopping around.
  • Engagement does not result from clicking on an e-mail and downloading a white paper or a coupon.
  • These are dashboard measurements, not human values.

Mark’s recommendations are grounded in humanism.

Customers respond to shared meaning and shared values – so long as the sharing is authentic. Businesses must be loyal to consumers, never let them down, always be consistent. Live on their island.

Seek trust. Marketers have burned through trust. The Edelman Trust Barometer shows trust in business and brands and advertising going down for 11 straight years. Now brands must transcend the public’s mistrust.

Flip your branding. A brand is not what you tell customers. A brand today is what customers say about you to their friends and peers. People trust other people.

Let customers create their own value. This is pure Austrian Economics: customer value is an experience that takes place entirely in their domain. Brands and businesses facilitate – but can’t create – the customer’s value experience. Customers hire your brand or business or product or service to help them create value.

Marketing is promise management.

  • Choose the promise you make to customers carefully – is it one they really want from you and will they trust you when you make it?
  • Ensure that you have the capabilities to deliver on the promise. Don’t over-promise.
  • Keep your promise every time, with no exceptions ever.

BONUS: Small and medium businesses have an advantage in human-centered marketing.

The larger the business, the harder it is to connect to customers on an individual, emotional level. Small business has an advantage in showing its face, demonstrating its personality and exhibiting trustworthiness.

Items Mentioned In This Episode

Mark Schaefer’s Human-Centered Marketing Manifesto is here. 
For comparison, our Menger’s Manifesto, from Principles Of Economics, is here. 
Find Mark’s book, Marketing Rebellion, here.
Mark’s website is 

Free Downloads & Extras

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Understanding The Mind of The Customer: Our Free E-Book

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6. Ricky Porco on Types of Entrepreneurs

At Economics For Entrepreneurs, we believe that everyone can be an entrepreneur, should they choose to do so. It may take you some time to find exactly your best niche, and a few experiments may be in order. The right mindset, we propose, is to pursue your entrepreneurial goal with belief and commitment, while being sufficiently adaptive to make some adjustments along the path when new information and new learning becomes available.

This week we spoke with Ricky Porco, a young CEO who already has several entrepreneurial experiences to his name. He’s been co-founder of an innovative community-building platform, and of a software development company.  He’s also been a marketing, sales and do-it-all guy at a digital marketing agency, and now he runs a service company to help small businesses make the transition from paper to digital – i.e. he’s an entrepreneur who supports entrepreneurs.

Show Notes

Starting entrepreneurship early in life is an advantage. Ricky tells listeners how he started his entrepreneurial career in college, packing a lot of learning into a short period of time. It’s a permanent advantage he’s carried forward with him into every subsequent stage of his journey.

It might take you a few tries to understand what kind of entrepreneurship is best for you. You might expect to switch businesses two, three, four or more times, changing markets, organizations, and business models. Make sure you make your choices purposefully, and commit to active learning from each one.

You might even try life as an employee to learn by comparison. Ricky switched into the role of employee at one stage. He was able to observe how the boss he reported to struggled with management and growth, and learn from it, while gaining confidence in his own skills through his success as a rainmaker for this employer.

You quickly find out the importance of financial management. Ricky quickly found out that he and his co-founders were good a business model design, product development, marketing and sales, but a start-up is financially immature by definition and can easily run out of cash. Without sound and disciplined financial management, all the other skills and capabilities can count for nought.

And you also quickly find out that effective marketing is essential to every business. Some of Ricky’s clients see marketing as optional – “if there are funds left over”. The opposite is true: marketing is a fundamental requirement.

Organizational structure and design is a critical factor in success, and especially in opening information flows. The biggest threat to the entrepreneurial success of a firm is a clogged information flow, when employees or partners don’t have clear direction or timely data. This can easily happen in founder-centric companies and especially in family-owned businesses that tend to be hierarchical.

Digitization is the best opener of information flows: software is organization. One simple solution to the clogged information flow is digitization. Software solves the problem; there’s no hierarchy in Slack.


PDF icon Download 8 Attributes of Austrian Entrepreneurs.pdf (117 KB)


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