Marketing our way out of the mess

From 1998 until 2006 I had the great good fortune and opportunity to travel to Venezuela quite regularly on business.  My client there was Cantv, the country’s largest telecommunications company.  

During my visits I had the opportunity to observe how the country was functioning during the on-going economic and political turmoil.

Conditions for many people were deplorable. There were torrential rains followed by mud slides that killed uncounted thousands of people.  The crime rates were rising.  In the streets of Caracas there were marching mobs of Chavez supporters.

And yet in the middle of all this crisis there were billboards for mobile phones, there were advertisements on TV for chocolate bars, cars, laundry detergent. Newspapers were filled with ads.  Radio stations had ads. Cantv itself was undergoing the country’s largest rebranding program to support their business strategy.   

Why did companies continue to market amid all this human suffering and economic and political chaos?  Why were they spending the money to create or strengthen their brands?  

Today, in America, in the face of our economic chaos, companies are pulling back hard on their marketing.  Marketing and training are two of the first areas to be cut.  And the cutting just keeps continuing.

So what is it that we know that the Venezuelans don’t?  Or, rather, what do they know that we don’t know?

Even in difficult times the companies knew that they needed to continue to market if they wanted to keep their business moving.  They intuitively knew that when the marketing stops the demand for their offerings stops.

I am confident that most companies in America will recognize the same truth that Venezuelan companies have seen.  We need to market our way out of this economic mess.

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