Recollections from an Economics Major and a Request for Marketing Intelligence



If you were to ask a business expert 20+ years ago what he/she looked to as an indicator of near-term economic conditions, one industry he/she would tell you to focus on would be the railroads. If there was growth in the amount of products being shipped on the rails, then there was demand and a bright picture for the economy. It was a logical predictor of the future.

I remember sharing an elevator ride with a FedEx driver who delivers to our building around the holidays this past December and he was uncharacteristically glum. He said that instead of adding extra drivers as was “always” the case during the holidays, this year they had actually consolidated their team. Thinking back to my college Economics classes and the railroad example, I sensed that the road ahead was going to be difficult. That wasn’t any sort of revelation given the horrific fourth quarter of 2008, but for me it was an indicator that I could relate to.

So now, it’s four plus months later and where do I turn to get my hands around what the future holds? If you look at the latest industry data from eMarketer , it doesn’t look pretty from an online ad spend perspective, but I don’t believe that information tells the whole story.

To supplement the data, I am looking closely at what’s going on with our clients and what we’re hearing from people we are speaking with about becoming clients. What we are seeing right now is a lot of confusion from individuals about where to spend their limited marketing resources. Should it be in AdWords, Social Media, SEO, a redesign or maybe tightening up their measurement activities through a better use of Google Analytics?

There is no clear-cut answer to what priority order makes the most sense, and I think the answer is different for every organization and every website. What I do believe, however is that the question is where to direct the resources, not whether to direct the resources. As the economy begins to turn around, the Internet should lead they way and with that in mind, any steps you can take to be better prepared will benefit your organization.

I would greatly appreciate your response to the two questions below. We will publish interesting feedback (anonymously) in our May newsletter. If you would like to discuss any of this directly, please feel free to email ( or give me a call (561-620-9682).



What is your gut-check/barometer of where the economy is heading?


What is your highest priority in terms of online marketing?




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