Dear CMO:

“For every pundit who proclaims that smart brands don’t cut marketing in bad economic times there are a thousand business owners who know differently.”

But when should you listen to these pundits and actually increase your marketing spend in bad economic times? Here are three cases to consider:

When our marketing puts us between the shrinking buying public and our competition. When what we offer and how we offer it is a much better deal for a scared and reluctant buying market than any other alternative, we become much more popular than we were when times were good. We may be in the enviable position of being a counter-cyclical business that prospers when times are bad. If not, we still have options. How can we make ourselves easier to buy when times get tough? Is this a product question, a program question or a communications question? Sometimes winning is about doing what they can’t, or won’t, or wouldn’t think of, or can’t believe we’d do.

When we create a reason for people sitting on the fence to buy from us right now instead of waiting for the other guys. Timing is another question we have to consider.

And most importantly, when we can test all of the above and quickly scale it up or down faster than the other guys can.  Companies with fast decision-making cultures have a substantial advantage over everyone else. And they’re very uncommon in my experience.

If you can’t do one of these three things, be careful about increasing your marketing spend in a down economy. But if you can, you’re in for a very interesting recession.