Let’s get this out of the way right up front. We understand that it sounds self-serving for an ad agency to tell you to think twice about cutting the ad budget.
But the fact is that, after decades watching the ebbs and flows of business, we’ve seen fortune reward the companies that keep marketing through both good times and bad.
Consistency plays a powerful role in connecting with customers. We’ve all heard the old “Rule of Seven” that asserts that a customer has to hear your message seven times before they buy from you. That might be a little overly simplistic, but the basic concept holds:
You can’t make sales if you’re not selling.
And, often, getting potential customers into your sales funnel – getting you into the considered set when they need your kind of service – can happen months or even years before they’re ready to buy.
Taking yourself off the air or “going dark” on your advertising means a large cross-section of potential consumers has stopped hearing about you. And, as the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” Moreover, while you’ve left their minds, you may be freeing up mental space for a competitor who is continuing to advertise and would love to take your place.
So, if there are compelling reasons to stay consistent in your advertising, why do some businesses pull ads? There are two primary reasons.
One: “I have a backlog of leads and jobs.”
Sometimes you can suffer from being too successful. A full lead funnel or a backlog of sold jobs may mean that you’re not able to offer customers the response times they demand. Sure, it’s a good problem to have, but it still can be challenging to manage.
An initial reaction might be to consider pulling advertising to stop the lead flow until you can handle them again. But leads are a little like a train. Once stopped, it takes an awful lot of chugging to get back up to speed.
There are alternatives to full-stop. There are good options that will slow leads without sacrificing the good momentum you’ve developed.
One option is to shift your advertising message from “selling” to “branding.” While hard-working lead generation commercials ask for calls and web visits, branding spots ask customers to simply feel positively about your organization. They give good reasons for homeowners to like and respect you, and to trust your solutions. This type of messaging can create a “soft-landing” for backlogs and position you for growth once the backlog subsides.
Using branding spots is also a great way to keep your competition from taking advantage of your success to “pick off” customers and steal your market share when you’ve left the room.
Best of all, studies have shown that customers will wait longer, pay more and be more likely to forgive mistakes of companies whose brands they like. All of these factors can benefit you while you’re working through a backlog of leads and jobs.
Focus on Recruiting
Recruiting commercials can accomplish two things. First, obviously, they can help you staff up to manage a larger workload and complete more projects in your backlog.
Second, recruiting spots will typically talk about the positive qualities you’re looking for in new team members. Homeowners who see these ads will associate these qualities with your company. In this way, recruiting advertising can work a lot like branding advertising.
So both recruiting and branding advertising are great ways to keep your name in front of homeowners and enjoy ROI from your commercials, even when you have a backlog. But what about the second situation where it’s tempting to pull advertising?
Two: “Business is slow and I have to cut budget.”
Slow times are a fact of life for any business. And while we all wish money was an unlimited resource for our business, there come times when even successful companies have to tighten the belt.
When considering marketing reductions, though, it’s important to remember the old adage that “you can’t save your way to prosperity.” This simply means that, no matter what else happens, the only way to get out of a slump is to make more sales. Marketing is the engine that powers your lead generation and feeds your sales.
There are budget-trimming alternatives to stopping your marketing altogether. And, by not “going dark” you make sure that you still have the opportunity to be in front of homeowners when they’re ready to buy. Here are a couple of options to consider instead of turning off your lead-gen engine.
Like any set of tools, media comes in different levels of power … with matching costs. TV still delivers the biggest audience and message impact. But it also comes with the biggest price tag. If you have to trim budget, a move from broadcast TV to cable could make sense. Or, you might consider moving from TV to radio for even bigger budget savings. Each of these steps will likely reduce leads, but it won’t shut them off entirely.
Flighting is a media term for staggering when you’re on- and off-air with your commercials. For example, over the course of four weeks, you might be “on” the first and third week, “off” the second and fourth. While being “on” all four weeks would obviously deliver the biggest impact, the flighting saves money while still helping keep you top-of-mind with potential customers.
If you advertise on multiple media, flighting can be even more effective. In the example above, consider that maybe you would also flight your radio advertising, but alternate it with when you’re on TV. So, you’d be on TV the first week, on radio the second, on TV the third, on radio the fourth. This way you would never be off the air entirely, but would also not be paying for four weeks of both media.
These are simple examples and, in the real world, effective flighting is more complex and takes an examination of ratings data and audience overlaps to deliver the biggest savings without sacrificing too much impact.
Luckily, the media pros at RCG have the tools, data and expertise to help you make the most of just about any size advertising budget. We’re committed to helping you be successful in both good times and slow times.