Stock market indices at an all-time high. Weekly jobless claims gradually falling. Retail sales ahead of expectations for February. Good news for the U.S. economy, no?
It’s all “head fake” data. The retail investor is still not back in the stock market. Jobless claims remain well above pre-recession levels. The details behind the retail data confirm that recovery is nowhere in sight.
And here’s a bonus, from the excellent Roger Arnold, who makes the annual subscription cost to RealMoney.com valuable all on his own:
“One of the principal operating goals the Federal Reserve has with respect to monetary policy is facilitating a cost of capital that induces both the owners of capital to make it available and for those needing it to access it…The problem now and for the past four years is that it isn't working.
Since the financial crisis of 2008 the value of deposits at banks has consistently increased quarter after quarter…the amount of these assets held in checking accounts has increased by about 100%...while the amount held in higher-yielding certificates of deposit has declined by about 23%.
The point is that retail owners of capital are doing the exact opposite with their money of what the Fed is trying to encourage.”
Main Street is f&cked. The GDP number for Q1 will be a positive surprise – well above 2% - but again the devil will be in the details. The gain will be driven by inventory, not the consumer, who refuses to contribute the “two thirds” we are always told he is supposed to contribute to GDP, but hasn’t in a very long time.
So get ready for the boss to come take your money away. To sequester your marketing dollars. Here is some guidance to what you should do with the major line items in your marketing budget. For Google-search-SEO-keyword-stuffing purposes, let us repeat that: here’s how to plan your marketing budget line items (joke of course, since Google no longer indexes this blog).
This is where you will make the most progress to meet the reduction. Get rid of someone at the highest level – a VP or even the CMO. The symbolism of such a move (i.e., removing dead weight) will be as valuable as the financial return.
Don’t touch this one. For the staff that remains, this is the only way they will get smarter. Doing the same thing day after day won’t get them there. Keep looking for quality education.
Suspend all projects in progress for six months minimum. Require that all your tech vendors provide an update on project ROI, using your own data, not some B.S. survey-based input.
As with training, don’t touch this one (other than the vendors related to projects in progress, as noted above). Your agencies and consultants are your lifeline to flexibility and expertise. Cuts here are penny wise, pound foolish.
Stop all social efforts ASAP. The hours you save (which somehow go unaccounted for in most companies) can be focused on producing better positioning and marketing content for your traditional, workhorse channels.
Stop all weekly reporting, dashboards, and other such nonsense that no one ever looks at. Determine the five top metrics that prove marketing effectiveness. Track those only. Separately, force senior management to give you the five metrics they want to see each week – throw them that bone, and keep them dumb and happy.
As we emphasized last December, this is one of your core focus areas for the year. Leave it alone.
Database Management & Analytics
If you’re not already working on it, commission a task force now to evaluate your data needs and capabilities, from top to bottom. This will be your longer-term solution to the “five metrics” recommendation (see “Measurement” above). You need “good data” before you can ever think of graduating to “Big Data.”