Advertise, or You’re Dead
During the severe economic crisis of the early 1980s McGraw-Hill Research conducted an advertising study of 600 companies (from 1980 to 85). Knowing that most companies, looking for ways to cut expenses, would start that process by gutting their advertising budgets, they were curious to see how that would play out both during, and after, the recession. What they found was telling: Those companies who intentionally continued to advertise aggressively, not only maintained their market share, but they came out of the recession in a dominating position. Specifically, their sales were 256% higher than those who stopped advertising. Not surprisingly, this dominance continued years after the recession ended.
Similar studies, during the 2007–2008 recession, bolstered these findings. For example, The American Association of Advertising Agencies conducted a study that demonstrated that advertising, in general, contributed to financial performance for up to three years into the future and that a commitment to advertise through the recession further bolstered growth.
Whether the nation’s economy is in recession today or not, the importance of advertising, always, cannot be understated. Advertising drives awareness to a brand and awareness is critical to survival and growth. But advertising is often a problem for small businesses. It is expensive to advertise and a many small businesses don’t have the budget for much advertising. So, what can they do? The one thing they can NOT do, is nothing. Do nothing and they will die, plain and simple.
The question then becomes — How can I advertise if I don’t have much money? The answer is obvious: Look for venues that cost nothing, or are extremely reasonable. Free advertising for businesses is out there, but you do have to get creative. For example, it costs nothing to pick up the phone and market yourself. It costs nothing to write an article for your local newspaper, on your business expertise, and get exposure that way. It costs nothing to post on local bulletin boards around your city. It costs nothing to announce a special on your window. It cost nothing to start collecting email address of patrons and send out special deals to them regularly. It costs nothing to post free ads online using www.graigslist.com or www.clikker.co or www.kijiji.com, to list a few. A smart business operator will take advantage of free venues to promote themselves.
On top of free venues, for very little expense you can create a flyer, join your local Chamber of Commerce, attend networking groups, join a charity or service club or find reasonably priced online venues on which to advertise. Facebook.com and Clikker.co are two great examples because they both allow the local business person to post ads targeted specifically at their local population.
Consistent, well-targeted advertising is the lifeblood of a healthy and growing business. It not only brings new customers but it is a constant reminder to everyone out there that the business is a going concern and it is worthy of their patronage.