How do I advertise in a weak economy?

Times are tough, the economy uncertain.  You’re thinking of cutting costs and your advertising seems to be a logical place to start.  But is it?

It is always good to cut costs, but advertising isn’t simply a cost of doing business, it is an investment — an investment that generates a financial return in terms of sales and customers.  When less people are out buying, it is tempting to cut back on this particular investment.  However, that may not be the best move for your business.

Why, you ask?  Because even in the worst of economic times, people still purchase goods and services.  Granted, people may be more selective in what they buy, but they do not quit buying altogether.  Even during the Great Depression, our nation’s most dire economic crisis, economic activity did not cease.  People still purchased food, clothing, even cars, homes and furniture.  In fact, my grandparents bought a farm during the depression, and my grandfather wasn’t wealthy; he was a barber.

So if people are still making purchases during this time of economic uncertainty, how will they know to buy from you?  Through your advertising, of course.  Unless you’ve decided to stop advertising, then they will buy from your competitor.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t re-examine your advertising.  In fact, you may need to change your message to reflect the new buying criteria your customers may have adopted.  But when times are tough, competition for customers grows even tougher.  Your advertising is the main communication between your business and its potential customers.  Silence that communication and you will be out of sight and out of mind to those potential customers.  People out shopping will still make their purchase, however, and they will purchase from the business that is still communicating with them.  Make sure that business is you.


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  1. john says:

    Very insiteful, I think a lot of business owners including myself fall into this trap or financial position and whack the advertising or never budget enough for advertising to begin with. In these economic times, what are some simple ways or advertising medium that a business owner could turn to if they had to cut back? In addition, what kinds of services does a professional marketing company provide?

  2. Mike Mayfield says:

    Thanks for your comment, John. Ideas for simple and inexpensive advertising would make a good subject for a future post, as the answer may vary from one field to another. But I don’t want to leave you hanging. Here’s a link to an article I found online that addresses your question:

    As to what services a marketing company provides, the main service and benefit is that they help you identify your “unique selling position,” or what differentiates you from your competitors, and help you communicate it in a short and succinct message that will resonate with your potential customers.

    Some marketing companies may also create ads and marketing materials for you like an ad agency or send out press releases like a public relations firm, but that varies from company to company.

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