Okay, okay, I know it's been too long since my last post. I can make lots of excuses, like I had several really big projects, too much travel, and our goldfish died. But then, you don't really care about that, do you? I wouldn't, if I were you, either.

So I'll just Ramble on giving you MY take on the state of the economy and what we should be thinking about for 2009.

First, a rant. We all know you guys are cutting budgets. Everybody is. (Well, almost everybody.) And we all know a big chunk of your cuts are coming out of Marketing.

Ah yes, that line item that is obviously just our annual "mad money." It's also our default fallback where we know we can cut because marketing dollars are "good to have when times are good, but not really necessary."

Okay, so let me get this straight. It's MORE important to spend our money on operations and production? It's MORE important to spend our money building stuff? It's MORE important to spend money increasing our inventory? It's MORE important to do all that than it is to spend money that actually generates MORE money? Did you know that Peter Drucker said, "Because its purpose is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only these two–basic functions: marketing and innovation?"

But you go ahead and cut back on marketing. Keep up the good work.

Now, for those of you who understand the importance of marketing, may I offer you some end-of-2008-beginning-of-2009 thoughts?

1. Your company's future sales and profits (and yours too) will be in direct proportion to the depth and quality of your prospect list, and your relationship with those prospects. Are you building that list?

2. The purpose of marketing is to be on the mind of the prospect when the prospect is ready to buy. If you aren't investing in your prospect list in 2009, you will NOT be on their mind. 

3. Your prospects will perceive you as no better than your most marginal competitor unless you take the opportunity to regularly communicate with them and interpret the difference. Do you know what that difference is?

4. What solutions are your prospects looking for? How do they think your company will help their business and what intangible benefits do they think you bring to the table? remember, during good times, you can get away with mediocrity. During bad times, you can't.

5. How recommendable are you? Do you have a formal referral marketing strategy? I'll bet you don't.

6. What is the long-term value of your top customers? What is the long-term value of an average customer? Do you even know?

As a devout marketer, I believe it's imperative we know the answers to these questions. Of course we know times are tough. It's a jungle out there! But history is filled with stories of wealth being created in tough times. This time will be no different.

And so, with appreciation to my friend, Dan Kennedy, I offer these resolutions for your consideration.

In 2009, resolve to…

…ignore, even flagrantly defy industry norms, "rules," traditions, and conventional thinking

…cope with adversity opportunistically, creatively, and aggressively (not fearfully, passively, or defensively)

Yes, it's a jungle out. But it's ALWAYS a jungle out there. Don't let the pooled ignorance of conventional thinking dictate your marketing strategy. Tarzan did just fine in the jungle. So can you.