Advertise smarter, not harder

As much as I hate to admit it, it seems we’re in or entering a recession.  And that can spell bad news for small businesses.  I recall hearing anecdotes along the following lines from various people throughout my life:

“ah, but it’s the best time to advertise”
“if you can make it now, think how you’ll do when the boom returns”
“it’s the best time to start a business”
Etc, etc.

(You know the sorts of things, and you can even picture the people that say them, right?)

But someone actually sent me more than just anecdotal advice just yesterday, and here it is, research that backs up the claim that businesses that maintain or increase the ad expenditure during recession have significantly higher sales during and for three years following.

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Now that sounds like common sense, right? But let me add another twist.  How about if its nothing to do with how MUCH you spend, just HOW you spend it?  The ‘how much you spend’ model is very traditional and in simpler times when all advertising was created equal maybe it WAS just a case of spend more and get more.  BUT, today we have more choice, and more ways to promote our businesses.

You can see where I’m heading right? What if you didn’t spend more, but you just took advantage of new ways to find customers and promote your business online?

I’m constantly amazed at how few of the ‘regular’ local businesses are really taking advantage of the many opportunities to attract customers online.  If only I had a magic wand that I could wave to make them all aware of Brownbook.net.  Seriously, I meet with a bunch of local business men and business women in my home town for breakfast once a week and I am amazed at how web-unaware they generally are.  Up ’til now they’ve had it good, but what about when times get tight?

What this means of course is that its not necessarily the businesses that spend more on advertising in a recession that will win, but its also those that spend wisely AND embrace new methods of attracting customers.  And you know, over time I actually think it’s the latter that will overtake the former.

Its a bit like the old adage, work smarter not harder – perhaps I can coin it “Advertise smarter, not harder”

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