Smarter Advertising in a Downturn

If you’re like most of my customers (and most of your customers), you’re probably taking a look at all of your expenses — including your marketing budget. A couple of years ago, perhaps, you could afford to spend money on things that might not work. Now, every dollar is precious.

In a time when belt-tightening is on everyone’s to-do list, here are five steps you can take to make sure your marketing dollars come back with friends attached:

1. Take a good, hard, look at your advertising copy. Does it give your prospects a good reason to contact you now? If not, you need to change it.

This is true even if your advertising used to work really well, because your customers’ problems may be different now than they were before. A good copywriter will help you focus your message on the things your prospects need today. Call me if you need one — I may know a guy.

2. If you need to cut back, reduce the number of places you advertise. Marketing guru Jim Doyle calls it the Principle of Focus: the smaller your budget, the tighter your focus needs to be. You may not be able to afford to talk to everyone — make sure that the people who hear or see your sales message hear or see it a lot.

3. EVERY SINGLE LEAD COUNTS. Make sure you have systems in place to convert every inquiry into a lead. This means that you get contact information from each one.

What actually happens when a customer responds to your ad? Your front line staff needs to know what you’re advertising, and what’s expected of them when the phone rings or someone walks in.

You are likely to be getting fewer leads than in the past, and each one has new reasons to hesitate. Have a plan in place to follow up on inquiries that don’t result in immediate sales — by phone, by email, by direct mail.

4. Test your systems. Don’t assume anything. Not long ago, I tried to call a jewelry store using the phone number on their web site. It was the wrong number, with two digits transposed. That little mistake may have cost them thousands of dollars.

5. Recognize that in an environment where consumers are hesitant and sales cycles are longer, consistency pays off.

There are two local car dealers who offer similar products at similar price points.

* Dealer One has been advertising on the same radio stations all year — three weeks a month, every month. Dealer Two has moved around from radio to TV to print and back again.

* Dealer One has been using the same overall theme with the same voices all year long. Dealer Two has had commercials written, produced and voiced by different people all over town.

* As the economic outlook got tougher this month, Dealer One stuck to his radio plan. Dealer Two launched a radio campaign, and then cancelled after a week.

* Dealer One is having a very good October.


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3 thoughts on “Smarter Advertising in a Downturn

  1. It never ceases to amaze me how much an individual or orgaisation can learn by just reading blogs, every single day thousands of pieces of great information are published, normally just a view point from a lone person, this great information if gathered together is more than enough to chance most businesses beyond belief, lets hope this great source of knowledge sharing continues and grows.

    I often spend far too much time reading and replying and have seen many great phrases, this is one of my favourites;
    The key to a successful campaign is to ensure that we understand what response the client is expecting from the distribution. It is from this perspective that we can attain the aims of the client and retain a strong working relationship now and in to the future…
    If you read and think about this statement it truly makes you think, and motivates you into thinking how you can chance your attitudes.

    Once again, thank you for your blog !

  2. When times are tough, which we all probably agree they are right now, you have to make extra efforts to strive forward, and survive. It is a very well know fact that any organisation that advertises will do far better than ones that dont, whether we are talking about a high school football team or a down town diner.
    Having had many businesses over the years I have realised that you must advertise and I have used many forms, some work and some dont, but I have to say, there’s no doubt about it – leaflets work. They are a superb cost effective method of advertising, far far better than many other forms of promotion. There are more TV, radio, newspapers, magazines than ever before not to mention the internet and outdoor advertising but fortunately there is still only one letterbox. After a campaign you are always expecting instant results, which is proably quite unwise, as marketing does not work that way, but we have found that when we deliver a leaflet, it’s there immediately to be seen on the door mat, selling your service or product, so it must have an added advantage as people can hold the media in their hand and think about the offers on it.

    It would seem that because the medium works so well, advertisers are turning to door drops more and more. At dor drop inc we are proud to work with local shops, businesses and local government. Using our tried and tested system of carefully managed staff we minimise the clutter and maximise the impact of your leaflet or brochure.

    Many people do not understand how important it is to inform the man on the street that they are there, if they do not know about you how can they visit you. As with every thing in life knowledge is the key, without it you will shrink, and the big boys will overtake you.