Max’s Marketing On A Budget: Volume 3

Let's say I have a little money.  Where should I spend it wisely so I can make my line graph look like this.

Let's say I have a little money. Where should I spend it wisely so I can make my line graph look like this?

In today’s down market it can be tough to decide where to spend any money that you do have.  In fact, right now a lot of people are trimming back on their marketing budgets and it’s understandable.  As people cut back their spending habits, profits are changing, and typically not for the better.  For some businesses, this isn’t a problem.  Bars will typically maintain a steady stream of income and will therefore continue to pour money on advertising (pun intended).  But what about the small business?  How can a small business that may have a little money spend the money so that it makes them money? 

First of all, as with everything else, the business should look at their particular market.  Don’t go chasing advertising that limits your focus or is too broad.  Here’s a couple examples.  If radio and TV cost the same amount and you have a highly visual business (like an athletic club, or maybe a dance club), it would make more sense to spend the money on television.  This way people can physically see your business in action.  Now let’s say you own a music venue.  It would make sense to have the ads run on a radio station that plays the same format as your show.  However, a big visual TV campaign could be cool too.  See, it’s hard to decide where each precious dollar should go.

Here’s what isn’t smart right now.  It’s not smart to get involved in monthly campaigns unless you can negotiate the rate way down.  Mall advertising, coupon books, and similar media can be great, but you can give out coupons in a newspaper, or verbal discounts on radio or TV (“Mention this ad and get 10% off!”)  The other drawback is that most of these types of buys require a multi-month campaign.  Committing to a guarantee right now with a small budget could come back to bite later on.  By negotiating a smaller fee for the advertising and keeping it to a weekly or monthly buy enables you the freedom to stop spending that money if the well suddenly dries up. 

The most important thing to remember is that right now, advertising agents are also feeling the crunch, and they will be more willing to make deals to get business in the door.  If they believe in their ads and their media, it should increase your business, which will in turn increase their business.   I have never understood the idea of buying advertising through an agency buyer.  It’s easier to buy it yourself, plus, then you develop a relationship with your salesman and can bring them around to anticipate what you want.  Plus, why pay a middle man to do something that you are completely capable of handling?

This installment has jumped around a bit, so let’s recap:
* Budgets are tight.  Take some time to decide what advertising will best stimulate your growth
* Stick to old stand-bys that have worked for you in the past unless a great deal comes along
* When that great deal does come along, make sure you are getting it for the lowest price
*Don’t lock yourself into long contracts that could bog down your bottom line
* Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price of advertising
*As always, remember while you are negotiating that your ad salesman is trying to make a living too.  Working together to find a great solution for your business will be advantageous to both parties
* If something isn’t working, get out of it before you waste more money – some things just don’t work

If anyone reading this has other ideas, or examples of what has worked for you, feel free to discuss them in the comment section or email me at


~ by maxaverage on December 29, 2008.

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