Get the point across

<p>Marketing is a leap of faith at the best of times, which is why in a recession it is usually the area of spending that is cut first. Yet independent research has shown that in every single downturn over the past 90 years, those companies that increased their marketing spends not only survived the tough times but then thrived afterwards.</p>
<p>Even so, few finance directors have the vision (or the balls) to invest more in marketing at a time when they are reducing costs elsewhere.</p>
<p>This means that most marketing departments are left with less money but the need for them to perform is greater than ever. Commonly this results in &quot;kitchen sink&quot; communication&mdash;a desperate desire to be all things to all men in the vain hope that something will stick.</p>
<p>Unfortunately, this approach rarely works because communication is like throwing a ball; if you throw six balls at someone, they will probably end up catching none of them. Alternatively, if you throw one ball well, most people will be able to catch it.</p>
<p>So it is with communication. We often believe that if we say lots of things at once, we are more likely to strike a chord. In fact, (just like with the ball analogy) it is always better to say one thing and say it well. This applies to all forms of communication be it an advertisement, a book cover or a shop window.</p>
<p>Again, few people have the strength of character to do this and insist on pushing at least three or four different messages at once.</p>
<p>If this is the case, then the next best thing is to have a clear &quot;hierarchy of communication&quot;. This means being absolutely obvious about your lead message versus your secondary and third messages. The hardest part of this is getting your head around which is the most important thing you can say (especially as it is not always obvious).</p>
<p>For example, for crime writers who consistently use a hero detective, the lead message should focus on the detective because if you sit in any research group you will know that what readers connect with is the character not the writer. Yet how many people dare turn convention on its head and take this approach? Time and time again we see book jackets, shop windows and websites leading with the author because &quot;that is what everyone else does&quot;.</p>
<p><br />
Recessions should force organisations to communicate better. This is a time of great opportunity for marketing but, be warned; it is not for the faint-hearted.</p>