Have you ever seen the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life? Set in the 1930s, the film is about protagonist George Bailey, who operates a small business when the Great Depression hits. And while all of the working class, small business owners, and ordinary folk panic and attempt to pull all their funds from banks, the antagonistic “Corporate Giant” Henry Potter keeps his cool, increases his spend, and effectively buys the town.
Ouch. Still incredibly relevant today.
Did you know that almost half of U.S. adults believe that reduced or no advertising from retail stores, banks or auto dealerships during a recession is an indication that the business must be struggling?
Let’s digest that for a moment… if you pull back on your advertising now, the impression you are giving your clients and potential customers is that your business is hurting. Is that what you want to project?
You might be inadvertently scaring your customers away!
People don’t want to give work to companies that might not be around… what if there is a problem with the product or service, what if there are upfront costs paid by the client for future work? Such thoughts are likely to send consumers running right into the waiting arms of your seemingly stronger-rooted competitors.
No one is disputing that the soured economy has been taking its toll on businesses and individuals. It’s causing a major rethinking in how day-to-day business is conducted all over the country. But if your firm or organization has a need to cut back costs, cutting out advertising completely might help in the short-term but is almost definitely going to hurt you in the long-term.
In fact, a recent article from the Harvard Business Review reports that the companies who have come out strongest from previous recessions not only refused to cut their ad budgets, but often increased them! (Just like Mr. Potter!)
Unfortunately for the small business owner, many of the companies with enough liquid assets to up their advertising budget are larger companies, who, by definition, have more resources at their disposal. If you simply do not have the means to increase your marketing efforts, perhaps your best solution is to redirect them. Use this time period as an opportunity to change things up a bit. If you’ve been paying for expensive television advertising, why not try switching mediums to radio, print, direct mail – anything less expensive that still reaches your audience. Work with your vendors to see if they have any ideas that will help you reach more potential clients/customers or how to save costs. Perhaps you can give some new vendors a chance, letting them demonstrate value in getting your message out?
Whatever you do, be creative and DON’T STOP ADVERTISING! I guarantee you the Mr. Potters of the world won’t. You still need to get your message and name out there, now more than ever – and if you panic, the big corporate giants of the world WILL squash you without a second thought. So keep your head – and your marketing budget – high. And when you come out on the other side of this stronger than before, remember that it IS a wonderful life.
“Don’t you see what’s happening? Potter isn’t selling. Potter’s buying! And why? Because we’re panicky and he’s not. That’s why. He’s picking up some bargains. Now, we can get through this thing all right. We’ve got to stick together, though. We’ve got to have faith in each other.”George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life
I read this entry blog in the voice of Mr. Potter, that nasal-y tone. Oddly, it made the point even more!