Marketing budgets are being reviewed at the moment.

That’s probably not a surprise – you are probably experiencing this yourself – but Econsultancy has put some numbers to it:

“A survey of more than 2,200 marketers conducted by eConsultancy and Marketing Week has revealed that the majority believe that the outbreak has already heavily impacted marketing activities for the first half of 2020.”

But what does “heavily impacted” mean?

“Among marketers working at brands with a revenue of more than £50 million per year, 55% of those in the UK and 57% of those in North America say that product or service launches are delayed or under review, while 55% of UK and 56% of North American marketers say that marketing campaigns are delayed or under review.”

For comparison, £50 million is worth about $58 million in US dollars at today’s rates.

So that’s it…here it comes: Campaigns are delayed, which means pipeline dries up, which means deals don’t close.

Do you know which budget that comes out of?

It’s an open-ended question and if you guessed marketing, you’d be correct.

Marketing is the first budget to get the ax when things go south, and it’s one of the last to get it back when the economics start looking good again.

But maybe it shouldn’t be that way. When everyone is zigging, maybe it’s better to zag.

As I noted in a post around the time we were shedding the last [great] recession, marketing is like talking in a room. When the economy is good, that room is really loud. Everyone is talking and there’s a lot of noise and competing messages.

You could shout over everyone else and be heard, but that’s outside the social norms. So, you have to be strategic. You pick out who you want to talk to, listen carefully to their needs and then engage with well-researched messages.

When the economy goes south the opposite happens. We are all in that same room, but everyone stops talking because the marketing budget got slashed. Businesses go quiet and at the precise moment when they have an opportunity to communicate virtually no competition.

Smart, cost-conscious companies should not cut their marketing and PR budget right now. This moment is the marketing equivalent of buy low and sell high.

A version of this post was first published on Sword and the Script.