Finding ad dollars when none seem to exist

In today’s struggling retail environment, garnering advertising dollars, whether online, in paper, special sections or niche publications continues to be an ongoing challenge.

Coupled with the evolving and changing advertising media (Consider the Internet’s impact on other media!), the media choices for many retailers may, at times, be overwhelming.

“No money to advertise!” Simply stated, this is an all-too-frequent objection refrain from a potential advertiser.

However, when business is tough to get and the retail or service provider sector continues to be challenging, “No money to advertise!” may be reality, from the potential advertiser’s point of view, rather than an objection.

When a small business owner feels (rather strongly) that she has no money to advertise, your selling opportunity shifts from one of overcoming an objection to one of education. To secure any ad dollars for your newspaper, you must first help her understand where to look and where to find dollars that may be utilized to invest in her business through advertising and promotion.

Within her business and without increasing her budget or without additional cash input, ad dollars do exist to invest in her business. Here are six areas to consider in your search for those elusive ad dollars:

  • Explore reducing overall salary expense, by reviewing her business’ hours of operation. Opening an hour later or closing an hour earlier without impacting customer service or revenue generates 20 hours (one hour/day x 20 days) of saved expense that may be converted to a $200/month ad budget (20 hours x $10/hour in payroll expense).
  • Bring her vendors and suppliers into the conversation. Inquire from each and every business that she does business with, if co-op advertising or extra promotional dollars exist to support their product placement in her business. Leverage enhanced product placement in her store or in her ads for those vendors willing to contribute to the promotion of their product or service.
  • Review her current inventory and purchasing habits and controls. Is it possible to tighten her inventory without impacting customer service or revenue, and shift those savings into an ad dollar investment?
  • Take a look at helping her initiate a joint neighborhood marketing effort. Inquire locally at the Chamber of Commerce or other city agencies to see if neighborhood promotional dollars or marketing opportunities are available for the asking. This strategy may also open the door for additional and new advertisers for you.
  • Challenge her to review her own remuneration schedule (e.g. her salary!). Remind her that a small reduction in her personal income this year make reap big benefits for her business and subsequently to her next year and down the road!
  • Last, but not least, help her clarify where her business dollars are going in support of her local community. Do some services or charities or groups duplicate others? Would a realignment of her dollar commitments maximize results while better allocating those funds?

“No money to advertise!” may simply be a challenge offered to you by an advertiser to find the money! Good luck and have fun!

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.