All around us is the all pervading air of panic.
The financial crisis has introduced the public to names and issues that this time last year were the preserve of the City boys (and girls). The housing market continues to shrink faster than a snowman in April, and the Government continues to twist and shout like a sky blue football terrace in mid-anthem.
Today, more forecasts for the 2009 advertising market have escaped, battering the already browbeaten media sector. DMGT has issued a profits warning, Trinity Mirror continues to cut costs, ITV has seen its share price decimated (like its regional news and content is about to be), Channel 4 is looking to shed jobs, and regional newspapers are reporting 20%+ declines in ad revenues across multiple sectors.
So, what to do then?
We could all head down to Turnstile, the Cold War nuclear bunker under the Cotswolds, lock the doors and resurface in 2011 when everything looks a bit better.
Or, we could take a deep breath, and focus on the basics, "concentrate on the knitting" as one famous media guru used to say.
Even looking at the UK, there are still 60 million human beings out there (give or take a few million that the Government can't count, track down, tag, place on a register or lock-up).
Disposable income is still down, but people will still consume media in some format, they have always done so in the past, and always will do in the future. Strong brands with loyal audiences have longevity and long term profitability, the key is protecting this during the cold dark winter nights.
We think these are the basics, get these right and the cold upcoming winter may pass by without claiming too many more victims.
Knowledge is the foundation - you are fighting for a share of a shrinking consumer wallet (or purse), you have to understand why consumers spend money on your brand to understand how you protect this going forwards.
Recognising your customers - you need to know who they are, and their value to you, at an individual level - data is crucial.
Relationship building with your customers - talk to them, nurture them, engage them, be interactive with them, listen to them, watch them talking to each other about you.
Reward your customers - if you don't reward them, then someone else will.
Retain your customers - in any declining market it's easier to retain existing customrs than acquire brand new ones. Particularly in markets where the under 30s have grown up never paying for any content
Be brave - "There is no shame in failure. The shame is in not learning from it". A quote from the famous English philosopher Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards. A test is a test, if it doesn't work then learn and move onto the next test. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it already.
Be smart with budgets - you need to know what's working, why it's working and who it is working against, in as near to real time as possible. Insight is an investment, but done smartly, it will pay its way ten-fold.
Do the knitting right, and you'll have a large enough jumper to get you through the nuclear winter nice and warm while everyone else catches pneumonia. The future's bright, but not for everyone. Evolution did away with Dinosaurs, Dodos and Lehman Brothers, don't let it add you to the list.
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We live and work in exciting times - revolutionary times. Technology continues to recast the media industry.
The extraordinary advance of affordable personal digital technology and the stellar rise of social networks are both distrupting and transforming the media market making this a unique moment to be involved in the convergence sectors we focus on.
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