When the economy is faltering, advertising is often the first thing in the marketing budget that gets cut. This is true whether it’s the budget of Coca-Cola or the local car wash. But before you make the decision to scale back or cancel your advertising campaign altogether, consider the following tips.
Now Is the Time to Bargain
If you are hurting, rest assured, so is the local newspaper, the TV station, and the radio station. Now is a perfect time to bargain for ad space, both in price and position. In most cases the more advertising space you buy, the more it is discounted. So if you’re a landscaper and you’re looking to place seasonal ads twice a week in your local newspaper for six months, ask for the 12-month price. The economy will go back up again and advertising prices will rise, so see what you can do to lock in the prices for the long term.
Ask for Premium Placement
If you’re placing an ad in a magazine, ask which “premium” pages are open and see if you can get those at a discount. Premium pages include the inside front cover, the centerfold, the back cover, and the “front of book,” which means the first third of the publication. On radio, the premium placement is rush hour. On television, it’s the 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. “prime time” slot. But more important is to advertise when and where it makes sense for your business. If you offer tax services to small businesses, check into the costs of a “sponsorship” during a public radio station’s “marketplace” show. If you own a sports store, make sure your ad is in the sports section of the newspaper or runs during the sports segment of your local news. Haggle. Haggle. Haggle.
Build Your Brand
In a recession you can count on your competitors cutting back their own marketing and advertising. This gives you the perfect opportunity to build your brand by ramping up your own. Are you the leading spa in town? If not, now is your chance. Does your bakery make the best cinnamon buns in the state? Now is the time to let people know. Who knows, you may be the only spa or bakery advertising. What’s more, with advertising being down overall, there is less clutter and more opportunity to get your message across.
Bargain for Sponsorships
Sponsorship is a creative and often cost-effective way of marketing your product or service, particularly locally. Often sponsorship sales decline even more rapidly than ad space sales during a downturn in the market. Is there a trade show, golf tournament, or concert series you’ve been locked out of because your competitor always sponsors? If so, take the time to check if the sponsorship is available now. If it is, bargain for it, whether you ask for a reduction in price or an increase in benefits. And make sure you have a clause in your contract that allows you first right of refusal on future events. But if sponsoring the city’s premier golf tournament is too costly, don’t underestimate the value of sponsoring a team for Little League or soccer for $500 or so. That’s a lot of adorable kids walking around town with your business’s name on their backs.