Should I Press Pause on Advertising?

The past year has been full of ups and downs for most small business owners. For many, it’s been mostly downs. We’ve met with clients that have been through hell and back trying to keep their business alive, and we’ll often hear things like “Business is bad right now, I just can’t afford to advertise.” or “Things are too unpredictable, I’ll wait until the pandemic is over.”

We get it. We’ve been in those tough meetings where company leaders are racking their brains to figure out how to stay afloat. We’ve had to make difficult (and sometimes expensive) adjustments to our processes to stay compliant with guidelines.

The classic saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” When it comes to marketing, this couldn’t be more true. These are EXACTLY the times when you NEED to be advertising your business. What you SHOULD do is rethink your strategy, to make sure you’re getting a well-blended campaign tailored to the current atmosphere.

Here are 17 reasons to consider maintaining (or even increasing) your advertising budget when times are tough:

1. Advertised businesses attract better employees. The best candidates apply at businesses they’ve already heard of and businesses which are perceived to have solid futures.

2. Advertising improves staff morale. Employees and front-line sales people feel more confident about the future of employers who invest in advertising. Advertising that generates more traffic also keeps them more active and motivated.

3. Advertising improves your sales closing ratios. It is much easier for your sales people to sell a consumer who has heard of you, knows who you are, what you stand for, and knows your reputation, rather than selling to someone who has never heard of you.

4. Better vendor relationships. Vendors who recognize you as an aggressive marketer who will promote their products will give you preferred pricing, co-op commitments, and advance notice of new product availability.

5. Advertising reinforces your existing customer base. While your competitors repeatedly try to steal market share, advertising is a great reminder to maintain customer loyalty.

6. Advertising creates powerful “inter-media” synergies. Repetition sells, and businesses which reach and influence consumers repeatedly over time with multi-platform approaches, from on-air to online, build stronger consumer awareness, confidence, and sales.

7. Your market is constantly changing. Due to circumstances beyond your control, you’ll lose 20-25% of your current customers due to no fault of your own. Changing demographics, increased competition, geographical moves, changes in income, marital status, new products, career moves, divorces, births, and a long list of other market conditions can cause your previously loyal customers to shop elsewhere.

8. Perception becomes reality. The best product or best service doesn’t always win in the consumer’s mind. The best marketer, that is the business which creates the best image and perception, is usually the winner in a crowded competitive space.

9. Competition is always increasing. In the current atmosphere, thousands of new businesses and e-commerce stores are opening every day. Advertising can keep you top-of-mind with your prospects and ensures you aren’t forgotten amidst your competitor’s advertising. You can also embrace new targeting strategies that allow you to be on the offensive and lure customers from your competitors.

10. Advertising can differentiate you. When products and prices are perceived to be the same or similar everywhere, the image and reputation you create with your advertising can be the tie-breaker that helps consumers choose you over your competition.

11. Improved web and in-store traffic. Consumers are much more likely to click on a link or visit a business they’ve heard of, than they are to patronize a business they’ve never heard of.

12. Effective advertising is cost effective. If you could afford it, you would have a professional salesperson tell your story to every prospect in your market. Advertising was invented as a more cost effective way of telling your story to hundreds or thousands of people you could not afford to reach in person with your sales force.

13. The ‘most recent’ ad often wins. Consumers who may have intended to do business with your competitor can often be swayed at the last minute to respond to your ad if they are purchasing today. Often the ad seen or heard ‘most recently’ wins. Make sure to include a technique that targets customers that are already at the bottom of the sales funnel.

14. Improved profit margins. Consumers have been proven to be willing to pay more for brand name products or businesses they’ve heard of over products or businesses they’ve never heard of.

15. Stakeholder confidence. Investors, bankers, and would be business purchasers or partners place a value on the ‘goodwill’ or ‘brand’ created by your advertising.

16. Increased Return On Investment (ROI). Many of your fixed costs like electricity, rent, staff, etc, remain constant whether you have 100 customers or none. Advertising can generate the traffic and sales to ensure you capture a return on all of your other investments.

17. You control your advertising. You have little or no control over what is being said about you on social media or behind closed doors, but you have total control over the image your advertising creates.

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