How can I convince people to advertise when business is bad?

Question:The national news says the recession is over, but obviously a lot of my advertisers haven’t heard about it.  They are asking, “Why advertise when business is bad?”  What can I tell them?

Answer: The recession may have “officially” ended, but the recovery is slow and shoppers are cautious.  Business is tough to get.

Here’s what we have to keep telling retailers, service providers, professional businesses and companies:  You have to maintain or increase your advertising spending during a challenging economic environment if you want get ahead.

Here’s the mantra we must keep repeating:  Business isn’t bad – it’s tough to get. You can actually increase your market share in down economic times if you take an assertive, well-thought-out, consistent and ongoing advertising program.

A reduction in advertising expenditures guarantees reduced profits, sales and lost market share due, in part, to three significant impacts:

  1. Loss of top-of-mind awareness.
  2. Loss of image in the marketplace and local community.
  3. A change in perceptions held about the retailer, service provider, professional business or company.

Why should you counsel your advertisers to continue to advertise in a slowly recovering economy? To be successful — to grow and to survive — businesses need to have a constant presence in the marketplace. Customers have to know who the business is and what they do. And in today’s world, that awareness typically comes through advertising.

What strategy might you suggest to assist your client in seizing the opportunity presented by a recovering economy?  Try these:

  • Stress benefits and talk value. Stress benefits and values, rather than just price, in your advertising message thereby reducing buying risk for your customers and potential customers.
  • Capitalize on local awareness and familiarity. Your readers and advertisers and their customers should be familiar with your local businesses through past advertising campaigns. Leverage that awareness and familiarity to reduce buying reluctance while reinforcing the advantages of safety and security in shopping locally. The best advice and the best value … always come from someone you KNOW!
  • Maximize competitive advantages. Help your advertisers seize the moment when their competitors may be cutting back or eliminating their advertising, by identifying and articulating what separates and makes them unique or different from others.
  • It’s all about the long term.Coach your advertisers to implement the plan and preparation you helped them put in place when the business decline first began. With the economic certainty improving, remind them to continue looking to and designing the future, rather than seeking to reinvent the past!
  • Don’t sell an ad – sell ideas and campaigns. Talk to advertisers about investing in a series of ads, within a timeframe, with a set aside or allocated budget, to meet an identified need, problem or opportunity with a desired outcome — rather than placing one-time, single-shot ads or promotions.

Helping the retailers, service providers, professional businesses and companies in your community create a public awareness of who they are and what they do promotes growth for your community, your retailer and your newspaper, both in print and online.