The IPA produced a great book a while back called Advertising in a Downturn. It is the result of several reports and seminars held to investigate just what happens to a business during a recession, it is well worth reading. If you’d like a copy of it please give me a shout and I’ll forward you it.
I also came across this article in the Financial Times. Both basically tell the same story; cutting marketing budgets is a short term gain only. They have some very interesting stats for companies who reduce marketing spend and for those who increase marketing spend (the return on investment is staggering in some cases). This particular statistic jumped out at me – McGraw-Hill research, analysing 600 companies from 1980-1985 found that the sales of companies who had kept advertising during the 81-82 recession had risen 256% over those who had not. Ignore that at your peril.
The simple fact is that when your competitors aren’t shouting as loudly as normal then you have a real chance to be heard over them.