Marketing Emergency: Is your company’s life in jeopardy?

Marketing Emergency Fire Drill

In marketing, it seems we must frequently deal with fire drills and “marketing emergencies.” Although those of us in the industry like to remind each other that we are not emergency room doctors, with human life or death hanging in the balance, it is true that a marketing stumble CAN bring about the death of an entire company.

In my consulting roles, I’ve noticed that my corporate clients, start-up clients and agency clients have different views on what constitutes an “emergency” and how to be react.

Large Corporations
At big companies, even the smallest hiccup is given huge importance.

Example: A missed a comma in a large block of footnoted text in the monthly employee newsletter. The sky is falling . Let’s have 12 meetings to determine the source of the error.

While I’m a believer that all marketing communications should generally be error free, many corporate employees lose sight of the value trade offs. Yes, you could enact a 10-step cross checking process, but would that add value to the corporate bottom line? or would it just create middle management busy work? What is the risk trade off? Perhaps 99% grammatically error free is a better choice in this situation.

At advertising agencies, marketing emergencies are like St Elmo’s fire. These crisis are rarely actual emergencies, but generate frenzied activity due to an unexpected C-level status meeting or a new business opportunity.

Example: Oh my god, we are meeting with the CEO, we need to come up with something amazing to say by yesterday! The team pulls an all nighter, creating new PowerPoint documents with beautiful graphics.

This wastes strategic resources. The very team who should be contemplating solutions to the client’s business needs spend their time worrying about what color font the CEO prefers.

Start Ups
Start-ups judgement about what constitutes a marketing emergencies is equally flawed…but in the other direction. Their tolerance for things being wrong is extremely high.

Example: The website payment cart isn’t working properly. Team says, “Oh yeah, we noticed that last week. we’ve been busy working on xyz cool new feature and haven’t got around to fixing it yet.”

Umm,  there’s no point in rolling out new features if you have no customers to use them! To be an effective marketing lead at a young company, one must be able work effectively with the development team to secure resources for marketing priorities.


How do you define a marketing emergency? Does your team prioritize projects correctly or do you waste resources on the wrong issues?