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Time for Assertive Marketing, not Wimpy Cutbacks August 12, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy.
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I was speaking to a friend of mine who owns an AM/FM radio station.  He was talking to a manager  at a larger radio station who noted that in the last month, they lost more than $100,000 in ad revenue.  Sign of the times?  Yup.  Wimpy times.  Surely media venues like newspapers, radio, and TV stations are feeling the same effects of a pull back on marketing expenses to some degree.  I’ve always called this kind of response the ‘knee jerk’ reaction to whatever the economic conditions or the relative condition of a particular business is.  It’s so typical that it’s really not funny.  It’s actually sad.

If anyone feels the need to cut back on advertising, I have several questions for you:

1.  How effective were the advertising dollars you were spending anyway?  Couldn’t have been too effective if the end result is that whole chunks of ad dollars are cut in the name of the recession or slowdown, or whatever.  I’ve seen too many businesses immediately cut their advertising expenses when in fact, they should be figuring out ways to make it more effective and keep doing it.  You can make all the rational financial arguments you want but cutting back or cutting it completely might not be in your long term interests.  Now’s the time to put up an effective fight for preserving your current customer base and going after potential customers.  Sometimes it means moving you marketing/advertising budget to another kind of media that will be more effective than what you have been doing. Either way, invest time in figuring out how you can make your advertising budget go farther and do more to positively impact your business than just cutting it.  My ten year-old son can cut a budget.

2.  Are you cutting back just to save cash?  Just cutting back for the sake of preserving cash is a dead end game.  You save the cash but watch your sales go into the dumpster.  It’s like going to a gunfight and leaving the ammo at home to ‘preserve’ it.  Nice move; you’re dead.

3.  Are you even sure of what you need to do in order to make your marketing spend more effective?  My pet peeve is that everyone is a ‘marketing expert’ these days.  If you’re not sure of what options you have, hire someone with bonafide marketing/advertising expertise who can help you determine where to find your best next customers.  Relying on just your intuition and experience is like running a business in a house of mirrors:  You only see one dimension of what your marketing plan could be and it’s limited to you. 

4.  Have any of your advertising programs had a strong call to action?  If your campaign doesn’t 100% of the time require the customer or potential customer to do something, you’ve just wasted money.  An ad campaign that doesn’t have a special coupon, call-in offer, etc. that can motivate people to go to your store or pick up the phone to call you, is DOA. 

5.  Have you effectively linked your advertising campaigns so that they all support each other?  Your radio ad should support the same call to action your newsprint ad has.  So to with your website.  Everything should be linked and synchronized so that you can get the maximum benefit from whatever your marketing spend is.

Marketing success is based on how well you differentiate yourself from your competition.  By not drastically cutting back and re-engineering your marketing spend to utilize the kinds of media that will help you grow our business, even in a ‘recession’, you’ll be doing what you competition isn’t.  They’ll be cutting back and wimping out and you won’t.  They’ll call you crazy, but you call them all the way to the bank.

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