Ever heard of the Cricket Theory? I hadn’t until a couple years ago when I had lunch with Pam Nolen President of Nolen & Associates. Pam and her team were at a weekend retreat outside Atlanta during a hot sultry Georgia weekend. In the darkest moments of the evening the crickets were so loud they kept a member of her team awake. All he could talk about the following morning was how loud the crickets were. The theory says, “the more noise you make when times are dark, the better remembered you will be when it is light again.”
The racket made by the crickets was all the more noticeable because there were no competing noises. The lesson here is that when your competitors cut-back on their marketing investment due to a slowing economy, that’s a great opportunity for you to increase your chirping (advertising). The economic darkness will give way to light, and you’ll be the company remembered, not those whose marketing was absent.
I have spoken with many business owners who cut their marketing budget when the economy began slowing down. People were still buying, though spending less, but not from those companies who cut back on their marketing. Jeremy Gutsche in his book “Exploiting Chaos” provides a wonderful example of the power of the Cricket Theory. Prior to the Great Depression Post Cereal’s Grape-Nuts was the dominate cereal in the United States. As the Depression deepened, Post began cutting back on its marketing budget just at the time that Kellogg Company began doubling their budget. Kellogg successfully introduced the slogan “Snap Crackle and Pop” and “you’ll feel better” and sales began to grow, at the expense of Grape-Nuts. Gutsche concludes that “the upbeat impact of crisis is that competitors become mediocre and the ambitious find ways to grow.”
If you have curtailed your marketing waiting for the economy to return to strong growth, you risk becoming insignificant to your competitors, who like crickets, have been making noise even during the toughest of times. You don’t need to become overly aggressive in promoting your products/services, but you do need to begin opening up the budget and spending dollars in well-thought out marketing campaigns. It’s essential that you have absolute clarity around your target markets, their frustrations with problems that you help them overcome, what your competitors are doing, and a compelling message that causes your prospective customer to take action.
Don’t wait. Be proactive and get noticed like those chirping crickets.