Out of the Box Innovations Ltd

How do you advertise in a downturn?

Picture of a homeless man advertising in a downturn

Expanding while you’re contracting

During good times, business often seems to happen like clockwork. If your offering is market worthy and well-priced, as long as you’ve some smart marketing in place, you’re going to be busy. Unless you make some huge mistakes, you’ll find that customers or clients come back for more, and refer others.

Often business owners see there’s plenty of profit available for advertising, but wonder whether they should bother? Why spend money when you’re too busy to handle extra work?

Then, the crash comes. Sometimes it is a credit crunch, and sometimes it’s foreign competition. Right now, many of our clients and contacts in the oil and gas industry are struggling to make sense of the prolonged drop in oil prices. Whatever the reason for the downturn, profits drain quicker than you can imagine, you think that one bad month could be an anomaly, suddenly it’s twelve.

Now you’re faced with a dilemma, do you advertise at a time when you can least afford it? Do you invest in new products, services or technology?

How can you put an expansion plan in place when you don’t know what the future holds?

Picking yourself back up and reversing the downtrend

If you’re not ready to close your business, there’s a solution that doesn’t involve much investment. One that can help you turn around much quicker while having a stronger foundation.

The purpose of advertising is to create brand awareness, as well and attracting customers and making deals. For an extended period, ‘traditional’ advertising was the only choice (TV, newspaper, radio and so on).

Traditional channels have gradually become less effective in the last 15 years or so. 20+ years ago large companies spent a lot of money on TV, billboard, newspaper and other types of advertising. While they hoped for the phone to ring as a direct result, they also wanted to create brand recognition.

There was a phase where banner ads on websites did very well. Over time, all blatant advertising has become less effective. Now, even website banner and click ads are becoming less profitable.

The objective of building brand awareness, and getting the phone to ring can be done now for free, by smart use of the internet tools we have available.

Most buyers are overwhelmed with sales and marketing messages to the extent that they are becoming ‘ad-blind’. Many people now block adverts in their browsers or watch TV channels that don’t have adverts. One reason why people like ‘on-demand’ TV is that there are no ‘annoying adverts’.

What’s taking over from interruption type advertising is providing trust-building messages regularly. The internet allows us to reach out to thought leaders, influencers, and company decision-makers in a way that’s difficult to achieve in person.

During a downturn, you’re more likely to get peoples attention than during good times, because these people are looking for suggestions and answers to their problems. Whether traditional advertising is the best way to do this is questionable and niche specific.

Fortunately, through online avenues, you can achieve the same business goals, for a fraction of the price.

If you’ve staff that are less busy because of the downturn, encourage them to share your companies message. They can do this on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and in online groups.

They can do it by commenting on industry-related forums and even on competitors blogs! Steal their audience from right under their noses! Every single employee can become brand ambassadors in the way that they conduct themselves online.

You’ll save money, and possibly get a better message out into the marketplace. If you approach online networking from an angle of understanding your customers, and caring about the result that they’ll achieve, the message will be more powerful than a ‘special offer’.

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