In Northeast Florida today it's 77 degrees and sunny but I know a lot of areas are dealing with cold conditions and even some snow. Down here we generally don't have to deal with winterizing anything other than our yards (we break out jackets for anything below 70) but regardless of climate we all know what it's like to get ready for the cold and marketers are no different.
In its simplest form winterizing is preparing something for the cold. Whether that's an economic winter that happens in your business, a budgetary freeze that hits marketing first before all other areas, or a chill in the air about your company's long-term prospects, there are several things marketers can do to insulate themselves as best they can.
- Keep marketing strategies tied to business goals - are your marketing goals still tied to business objectives? This is especially true when there are macro-level changes happening in your industry or even in your business. Being near the front of change and pivoting to where the business is going will help marketers be at the forefront and not in the background.
- Measure your results and report on them (especially the good ones) - measurement is a big deal right now in marketing and winters make a viable return on marketing investment model all the more important. Show in quantifiable terms what is working and be proud of it. As marketers, we should know how to self-promote for both team recognition as well as the general preservation of your teams and your budgets.
- Be a good steward of your resources regardless of the forecast - as much as we try to defend and protect our budgets and teams from dark times, we are all still at the service of the company and will probably have to make sacrifices. I have found that if you prove yourself over time to be mindful of costs and show value for what you bring to the organization the impact during hard times will be less painful, so make sure you are measuring your budgets and finding improvement all the time and not just when it's getting cold.
- Be proactive about cuts so they don't cut into the muscle - when you do get into conversations about cuts provide thoughtful recommendations rather than just have them handed to you. Be clear about what you can get away with and what will really hurt the company in both the short and long-term. Most of the time these conversations happen with people looking for quick monetary fixes, but marketing has to look out for the impacts on the brand and market position that may put the company is a worse place when spring appears.
- Reset the thermometer once the change has happened - once the cold has hit make sure you are clear about what's happening, the steps that have been taken and where things are headed. If you can't see a goal your teams won't see it either which will lead to longer term challenges. Most groups can deal with change if they know that the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train.
If your forecast is for a dark and cold winter, even if it's just for a quarter or much longer, think about what you need to do to get through it and come out the other side with the prospects of green grass and warm winds. A little bit of care and preparation will go a long way.