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-By Mark Dolliver
NEW YORK -- It's an article of faith among people in the agency business that ad and marketing budgets should be maintained in tough economic times so a brand can keep up its equity, grab share from less-enlightened competitors, reassure jittery consumers, etc., etc.
Alas, clients often fail to share this outlook, which is why we've seen budgets getting sliced and diced in the past year. But how does a broader business-oriented audience feel about the matter? We get a sense of this from polling conducted for AdweekMedia among members of LinkedIn.
A multiple-choice question, posed in online polling conducted in late April and May, asked respondents to complete a statement that began: "Ad and marketing budgets should be maintained in tough times because...." The choices were: "It's an opportunity to win mindshare;" "It's even more important to win sales;" "Big payback will come later;" and "They should be cut, cut, cut."
Ad-agency readers will be glad to learn that just 3 percent of respondents opted for the "cut, cut, cut" option. A plurality (42 percent) went for the "opportunity to win mindshare" theory, slightly outnumbering those who adopted the "important to win sales" outlook (37 percent). Fewer (16 percent) favored maintaining budgets in hopes of a later "big payback."
Living up to their green-eyeshade stereotype, respondents in finance jobs were the most likely to pick the "cut, cut, cut" answer, with 13 percent doing so. Respondents in creative jobs gave a modestly above-average proportion of their votes to the "win mindshare" answer (47 percent).
Though small businesses often live close to the edge, respondents who toil in such companies were the least likely to assign foremost importance to winning sales (34 percent) and the most likely to value winning mindshare (45 percent). By contrast, people who work for very large, "enterprise"-scale companies were the most likely to pick the "win sales" answer (43 percent) and the least likely to choose the "win mindshare" response (35 percent).
The views of business owners on such matters are always of interest, since they're spending what they regard as their own money on advertising and marketing. In this poll, respondents in that cohort expressed the same priorities as respondents in general. "Win mindshare" was their top answer (47 percent), followed by "win sales" (29 percent), "big payback" (22 percent) and "cut, cut, cut" (2 percent).
If you think men would be more likely than women to adopt the ruthless "cut, cut, cut" approach, you're right. But the numbers were small for both sexes, with 6 percent of the survey's men and 2 percent of the women giving that answer.
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