According to a recent media study conducted by market research and analysis groups Yankelovich Partners and Harris Interactive, businesses that advertise in times of economic hardship will invariably have a competitive advantage over businesses that don’t. In fact, the groups reported that advertising during times of economic uncertainty is more important than advertising during times of economic prosperity. The researchers also determined that eliminating or reducing advertising expenses is one cost-cutting measure that will ultimately backfire, as it will inevitably lead to a loss of traction within the marketplace, and leaves the proverbial door wide open for competitors to steal the spotlight and take center stage.
In addition, the Yankelovich/Harris study states that this kind of momentum can be vital to survival in the marketplace, as business owners can’t afford to jeopardize brand loyalty or lose their customer base. Similarly, the research indicates that when a business aggressively maintains its brand image in a period of financial hardship, consumers will view this as an enduring commitment to its products, services—and most importantly, to them.
No one may know the benefits of advertising better than internationally renowned “Marketing Maverick” Joe Sugarman, author, innovator and founder of JS&A Group Inc., which has introduced a number of groundbreaking products to the world.
Regardless of economic conditions, it is essential to communicate with your customers, said Sugarman. In fact, he suggested that business owners increase their marketing and advertising expenditures in these difficult times, as it will help them position themselves for a stabilized economy. Conversely, if you vanish from the marketplace, you run the risk of severing the connection with your customers, he said.
Sugarman—literally—wrote the book on winning marketing strategies, and contends that in order to maintain a competitive edge, advertising is sure to be your best ally.
“It’s really about public relations,” said Sugarman, former publisher of the Maui Weekly. “You need to draw attention to your product or service… fading from the marketplace is a bad idea.” Not to mention, he said, cutting back on advertising now can cost you more in the future. “Rebuilding your brand after the fact can be very difficult.”
As for fledgling business owners who may be anxious about navigating the economic tide, Sugarman said he has launched several products in a down economy—and with extraordinary results. “The key is to get creative,” he said. “Design a marketing/advertising strategy to make your product stand out.”
Scaling back on advertising, Sugarman said, could spell disaster for your business. “You must continuously connect with your customers, regardless of the economy,” he said. “Repetition is crucial.”
While advertising may be generally considered as a maneuver to attract new customers, Sugarman said it is also crucial to generate repeat business from a loyal customer base. “Word-of-mouth referrals can be invaluable,” he said.
While many can’t see it, there is a silver lining to the economic slump, according to Sugarman, as many print and online media vehicles now offer discounted advertising rates and special deals. “During difficult times, you can have a terrific advantage with the media,” he said. Not to mention, he said, businesses can “bring up what’s on everyone’s minds” and put a positive spin on advertisements by offering solutions to cash-strapped consumers, whether it be a kama‘äina discount, coupon or buy-one-get-one-free special.
While the Yankelovich/Harris study provides substantial evidence to support the advantages of advertising, especially in slower times, a number of successful business owners and CEOs agree that advertising is the crucial element for success.
According to Sugarman and the Yankelovich/Harris study, the rules of the game are very simple: If a business fails to communicate with its customers on a regular basis, then it will most likely not be considered during a purchase decision. While the prevailing notion may be to cut back on advertising to save money, experts agree that marketing your business in a down economy is essential for survival. With that in mind, business owners should take a second look at advertising—it may very well be the secret ingredient in the recipe for success.
“Marketing Maverick” Joe Sugarman suggests that island business owners increase their marketing and advertising expenditures in these difficult times, as advertising during times of economic uncertainty is more important than advertising during times of economic prosperity.