Ask an Expert Questions and Answers

Business in my community is really bad. I know businesses should advertise, but I can’t persuade them and should they agree to continue their advertising, I am not sure what we should advertise.

First and foremost, you should never agree with anyone in your community that business is bad. Likewise, you should never say “business is bad.” Anywhere in Texas, or for that matter in the U.S. “Business is not Bad!” “Business is tough to get!!”

Your advertisers, both current, new and old, are asking or going to be asking the question … why advertise? Why advertise in a possible recessionary period or when business is tough to get?

Simply put …those retailers, service providers, professional businesses and companies that maintain or increase their advertising spending during a difficult or challenging economic environment do, indeed, get ahead.

For those local retailers, service providers, professional businesses or companies who take an assertive, yet well-thought-out, consistent and ongoing advertising program, opportunities do exist to increase sales and profits, which in turn leads to an increase in market share.

Whereas, a reduction in advertising expenditures guarantees reduced profits, sales and lost market share due, in part, to three significant impacts … loss of top-of-mind awareness, loss of image in the marketplace and your community and a change in attitudes and perceptions held about the retailer, service provider, professional business or company.

To be successful, to grow and to survive, a retailer, a service provider, a professional business or company needs to have a constant presence in their community. This presence comes through a community awareness of that business and ‘who they are’ and ‘what they do’. This awareness and presence takes place through a consistent and ongoing advertising program.

What strategy might you suggest to assist your client in seizing the opportunity presented by a economic downturn? Consider the following:

  • Stress benefits. Talk value. Your readers and advertisers and their customers are looking for reassurances. Reiterate to your advertisers the importance of reducing (buying) risk by stressing benefits and values, rather than just price, in their advertising message.
  • Capitalize on local awareness and familiarity. Leverage the awareness and familiarity that your local retailers, service providers, professional businesses and companies have built through past ad campaigns 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 long term. Coach your advertisers to plan and prepae for growth when the economic uncertainty ends. Don’t seek to reinvent the past or worry about the present, look to and design the future!
  • Don’t sell an ad. Sell an idea, a campaign. Talk to advertisers about investing in a series of ads … rather than placing one time, single shot ads or promotions.

By Chuck Nau

Chuck Nau, of Murray & Nau, Inc., is a publishing consultant with more than 25 years of experience, having served the Seattle Times, Knight-Ridder Newspapers and the Chicago Tribune in a number of management, marketing, media and sales capacities.

Nau’s work as a publishing consultant includes clients who are newspapers, publishing associations and niche publications. His practice enables him to put his wide range of publishing experience to work for publishers, sales management teams and senior managers on both a day to day and special project basis. He has assisted clients as a management consultant, sales trainer, facilitator and coach/mentor in advertising, circulation and marketing areas.

In addition to his consulting practice, Nau has spoken to and conducted workshops for a number of national publishing groups, state press associations, and newspaper organizations throughout North America. He has written a series of columns covering topics in advertising, management, marketing, and sales which have appeared in various newspaper industry and press association publications.