The other day I was watching what was supposed to be the launch of a new rocket, the next step in space exploration. As the news networks focused, the countdown began. Three… two… one… nothing! The thing just sat there. Nothing happened. For some reason the launch was put on hold.

In many ways it reminded me of marketers, all fueled up, sitting on the launch pad, waiting for someone to push the launch button. As the economy shows signs of life, marketers are facing the same burning questions; “When do we restart our marketing communications efforts?”

In the early days of the space race, many countries had to weigh the risks and rewards of space exploration. Some just couldn’t see the benefit. Others, like the United States, chose to forge ahead, jumping into the unknown.

So, as marketers, what are our options? Let’s explore our options:

Launch now!
I remember the 1962 speech when President John Kennedy challenged us to go to the moon in that decade. “because that challenge is one that we’re willing to accept; one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win…” A shiver of fear and excitement went through the American people. The risks were huge, but the rewards that eventually followed were enormous. What resulted was an unparalleled leap for our nation and a level of pride that we have not experienced since.

Wait. Play it safe. Go later…maybe.
Even professional procrastinators eventually do something. Don’t they? But they often hide behind plans to get started later or when the time is right. Some are content with being in second, third or even fourth place. Well, consider this. After the recent recession, many fourth place companies are gone. However, the leader enjoys the huge brand advantages of being number one while procrastinators may risk their every existence by waiting.

In 1957, when the former Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, it shocked the world and scared the h*** out of the USA. Fortunately for us, it lit a fire that caused us to get off our back sides and jump start our space program. Now, fifty-three years later, other countries are just now getting serious about space exploration.

Do nothing.
Of course, doing nothing is the easiest option. Excuses are abundant. “Maybe later.” “We’re a conservative group.” “Don’t push me!” “What’s my ROI?” “The economy has still not recovered enough.” If that’s your excuse, I have a message for you; economies don’t recover on their own. They recover because leaders make things happen!

Many of the countries that chose to wait and do space exploration later ended up on the ash heap of history. While countries like the USA took risks and enjoyed the economic and leadership rewards, their economies languished, forever stuck in “follower” mode. We’ve all heard the old adage “Lead, follow or get out of the way!” As marketers ponder the future, their options are really that clear.

At Brand Acceleration, we are advising our clients to take a forward-looking posture. We suggest asking the question, “Where do we want to be in fifty years?” With vision, excitement, and courage, now is the time to push the launch button.

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