Expanding while you are contracting…
During good times, business often seems to happen like clockwork. If your offering is market worthy and well priced, as long as you have some smart marketing in place, you are going to be busy. Unless you make some huge mistakes, you will find that customers or clients come back for more, and refer others.
Often business owners see there is plenty of profit available for advertising, but wonder whether they should bother? Why spend money when you are too busy to handle extra work?
Then, the crash comes. Sometimes it is a credit crunch, sometimes it is 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 are drained quicker than you can imagine, you think that one bad month could be an anomaly, suddenly it’s twelve.
Now you are 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 are not ready to close your business, there is a solution that doesn’t involve much investment, and that can help you turn around much quicker, whilst having a stronger foundation.
The purpose of advertising is to create brand awareness, as well and attracting customers and making deals. For a long 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. Whilst 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 do not have adverts. One reason why people like ‘on demand’ TV is that there are no ‘annoying adverts’.
What is taking over from interruption type advertising is providing trust building messages on a regular basis. The internet allows us to reach out to thought leaders, influencers, and company decision makers in a way that is difficult to achieve in person.
During a downturn you are 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. In fact, if you have 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 all social media avenues.
They can do it by commenting in 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 will 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 will achieve, the message will be more powerful than a ‘special offer’.