For the past year, I’ve been listening to business owners tell me that their business is in a slump because they’re advertising isn’t working or they have stopped advertising completely to save money during a relatively good economy. Really? Do they really think that way? They go on and on about all kinds of things that get in the way of growing their business and the first thing they mention as the problem is the economy. The economy? I think we beat that horse to death about a year ago and it’s time to stop whining and chin- wagging about the “E” word. Move on, get over it, stop complaining and make some relevant changes but more importantly, don’t use the economy as an excuse to do nothing. Doing nothing is far more dangerous to your business than the booming economy.
Our world is filled with the expectations of one person (the customer) to another (the business). Everyone has expectations for everyone else. We’re human! The business owner writes an ad and hopes the customers come in to buy the product. But, the ad never meets the expectations. Why? Well, for one – the business owner will always ask that the ad do what it cannot do.
Advertising will not repair a broken business, it will not make you better at what you do and it will not turn a struggling business into one that isn’t. Advertising will only accelerate the inevitable. When it comes to correcting the problems of bad selection, poor location, road construction, low quality, high prices, bad employees, NO WEBSITE, inconvenient hours, and NO WEBSITE you could advertise until the cows come home and it won’t make a difference. I mentioned ‘no website’ twice because if a business doesn’t have a website or has a bad website I’m not wasting my time with them. They could be giving away stuff for FREE and I’m not showing up. Small businesses do not have the luxury of surviving without a great website.
“The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time.”
The above website comment may seem unfair for me to say because we sell website development and Internet marketing services but everyone I know goes to the web first when they want or need something. It isn’t just me. Google didn’t get rich on just me. Amazon isn’t king of the web from the one book I recently bought. So, if you’re not online and good at it your business is getting passed up and losing tens of thousands of dollars in revenue. I’m sorry to be so blunt but that’s a fact.
Advertising is expensive but so is not advertising. Placing one of those little ads all grouped together in a magazine is a waste of money and if you would have invested that money in a great website over the past year more than likely, you would have had a much better return. Bad advertising is even worse. People today are sick to death of advertising as a whole and when it’s bad the damage is worse than not advertising at all. The small business owner should take a long hard look at their ads and how they’re written and what they say. Stop advertising a product and write the ad about a personal experience surrounding it. Kodak sells film but they advertise memories. If you’re going to advertise, get emotional about your products and sell that feeling.
You also have to ask yourself why some businesses thrive with no advertising at all while other businesses struggle to place tons of ads everywhere. What’s up with that? The answer isn’t simple because it’s a combination of many things done very well by those businesses but I can promise you this – their spending advertising money on other things besides ads, you just don’t see it. They don’t need to run ads everywhere because they’re marketing on the Internet; they have a fresh new décor, new products, customer appreciation discounts, friendly staff, blog articles, strong warranties, surveys, free product demonstrations, Facebook promotions, etc., etc., etc. This business doesn’t need to advertise because the word of mouth is spreading from all the other powerful stuff they do.
Have you remodeled lately or done anything different to the inside of your business and then let your customer base know about it? Have you introduced new products on your blog or website? If not why not?
The recession? Really? Listen my friends, the recession isn’t going away anytime soon and all of us had better get used to it and serious about it. The new norm is surviving in a recession and the landscape coming out of it will be riddled with dead businesses all over the place and new opportunities, too. So, stop chin-wagging about the recession and start thinking differently so you can move forward because what worked in the past isn’t working anymore. Give your customers what they expect and don’t just rely on past loyalties. The Internet has weakened the loyalty foundation. The expectations they have of you and your business will surprise you.