WARC’s Future of Strategy report shows how the vast majority of strategists are witnessing clients decrease spend, with delays or cancellations of work rife – which is changing life for strategists too.

The figures are stark. Though plenty of evidence supports maintaining budgets in an economic downturn, budgets have still seen cuts, according to 89% of the strategists that responded to WARC’s Future of Strategy survey.

With planned work no longer being appropriate for the current climate, 80% of strategists said their clients have delayed planned work, and 68% said clients have cancelled work entirely.

But this hasn’t been all bad for strategists. “It feels like we are closer to the client's financial decisions, more visibility into internal processes and understanding of the weak spots,” said one European strategy partner.

Another noted how the range of stakeholders that the strategist was speaking to was expanding out of sole marketing. However, they added that part of the work is in helping the client decide where and how to cut budgets.

Despite this, attitudes have changed fundamentally from 2008, when the marketing industry saw an “effectiveness depression,” writes Shan Biglione, Head of Strategy at Zenith USA in an exclusive essay for the report.

Ultimately, “a rush to short-termism, fuelled by an appetite for immediate returns and the explosion of media solutions promising hyper-efficient targeting without any loss to overall effectiveness” has sparked.

So what’s different about the current crisis? Biglione is buoyed by the idea that marketers are now openly discussing how they can continue to invest as much as possible to not only protect their brands now but also to set them up for success after the recession.

Media is the big change, he says, noting that flexibility is now an extremely valuable quality in media, and is fast becoming a mainstay of even broad reach media.

Similarly, the explosion of e-commerce has brought a new focus to media choices. It’s more complicated than sticking “click-to-buy” on banners, he adds.

“It will be about how we redefine the way a brand is experienced on e-commerce platforms. Future facing media strategies will obsess about ways to land the brand’s story and content to life on those apps and websites.”

Sourced from WARC