In a recession, or when things are tough (as they most definitely now are), business owners and marketers tend to put a lid on their advertising spend as a means of capping their expenses. And yet, whilst understandable, it’s often a mistake to do so.
The reason that advertising is often the first expense to face the chop is that it’s the easiest thing to cut. It’s far easier to send out an instruction to your ad agency and media agency to cut, by way of an example, TV advertising or radio advertising from a media schedule than it is to, for example, retrench staff.
History has shown that advertisers who stop advertising in recessionary periods have some catching up to do when the economy turns for the better. This stands to reason, as the advertiser who continues to advertise in a downturn will be better positioned to capitalise in an upturn as his or her advertising would have remained uppermind over time. The advertiser who has stopped advertising will have lost ground in the minds of his or her target market. (A matter of out of sight, out of mind..)
One of the most prevalent reasons given by marketers looking to cut, or stop, advertising is: there’s no money out there, so what’s the point? Fact is, that whilst some South Africans have no money (OK, many South Africans have no money), many do..something that was brought home recently when my wife and I tried to find a week’s timeshare on the coast. After days of searching, it became clear that there was none to be had.
How could this be, if people don’t have money? The cynic would say that they don’t have money because they spent on things like timeshare, but this rings hollow.
South Africans are spending WEEKS on holiday. And as a family who was fortunate enough to have eventually found somewhere to stay and as a result, went away for ten days, we can vouch for how much an extended holiday would cost. Eating out every day and keeping the kids entertained costs plenty. And yet, restaurants are pumping and queues at the movies or fun parks never seem to end.
Another thing that struck us is how many people have second homes on the coast: homes that cost millions. And boats, that sit idly moored to those homes..
People short of money? Certainly not all of them…
It is clear that there are many people in this country (admittedly in the upper LSMs) who have money to burn. And these are people who continue to eat, continue to drink, continue to entertain, continue to drive, continue to bank, continue to invest and continue to holiday.
Quite simply, they need to be advertised to – regardless of the state of the economy.
The bottom line is that if you’re not advertising to them, you’re not in the picture. Simple as that.
But what about the middle class? Or the lower income-earners in our country? Here a different picture emerges because they’re more under pressure, financially-speaking. That said, they still need to eat and drink, still need to buy household goods, still need to put food on the table. So they also need to be advertised to.
What marketers need to do when things are tough is box clever.
If your product is not moving, you need to think of ways to GET it moving. Discount the price, offer a “buy one, get two” offer, start a loyalty program…think out the box and get creative.
The worst thing is to put a stop to your advertising efforts. But if you have absolutely no choice other than to cut back, do it strategically. Cut back on media that you consider to be “nice-to-haves” – this might be in the form of TV advertising, radio advertising, cinema advertising, outdoor advertising, newspaper or magazine advertising – and continue with advertising that brings you response. (Digital advertising more than likely).
With people googling practically everything these days, make sure that your website is professionally optimised for search engines. You need to come up on the first page of Google when people search for the type of product or service you offer. This is imperative. It’s said that the best place to hide a dead body is on the second page of Google. Why? Because no one ever searches there. Quite simply, if you’re not on the first page of Google, you’re dead in the water.
Google Adwords are also good. If you’re running Adword campaigns, continue running them. And if they’re not delivering the type of response you expect, find someone professional to manage them.
Google Display? Also good. Keep it going.
Blogs? They work well. Blog more than you have in the past.
If your business is struggling, cut your advertising spend if you must – but at the very least – maintain a presence online. You’ll regret it if you don’t because , despite what you may believe, there ARE people with money out there. And amongst them will be people looking for what you offer.
My name is Gerard Kavonic of This country’s smallest ad agency, Kavonic Hone and I can be reached on email@example.com and 083 444 9888. You can see what I’m about on www.kavonichone.co.za
I’d be happy to advise you.