Here's a mistake I made back at Eddie Bauer in 1999.
1997-1998 was awful ... terrible business. Terrible. As Circulation Director, it was my job to determine the marketing budget ... and I was in no mood to lose a ton of money on customer acquisition if our existing customers had no interest in buying our merchandise.
So I took a hatchet to the customer acquisition budget.
That was a really good decision when business was awful. We were able to get the p&l in order.
That was a really bad decision when merchandise productivity returned to normal. When that happened, I wasn't investing enough in new customers. As a result, I missed the bounce supplied by having good merchandise and while the business achieved record levels of profitability the top-line didn't grow and that hurt the business going into the recession of 2000-2001.
DON'T MAKE THE MISTAKE I MADE!!!
Use your comp segment analytics to closely measure merchandise productivity ... and the minute you see gains in merchandise productivity you need to immediately re-invest in customer acquisition to grow the brand.