Historically, companies that continue to run ads during tough economic climates come out ahead of their competitors who stopped advertising when times got rough. Procter & Gamble, Chevrolet and Camel cigarettes were just a few brands that continued advertising though the Great Depression, and came out ahead of their competition. For instance, during the 1920s, Ford outsold Chevys 10 to 1. Chevy continued to advertise and even expanded their advertising budget during the depression, and as a result, in 1931, Chevy was the top-selling car maker, outing Ford. Camel did the same thing – except Camel started out on top before the Depression, but was ousted out of the high spot in cigarette sales by Lucky Strike. Camel increased ad spending during the Depression and took its top spot back in the cigarette category.
Why You Need to Continue Advertising
1. Less competition: With companies scaling back or eliminating their ad budgets, that leaves room for you to get into more markets with less money. Low competition means lower ad costs.
2. People are looking for deals: If you can offer consumers a deal on your products, they will come. People still spend money during a recession (which we still aren’t quite in yet, according to experts), they just don’t spend as much of their money. Of course, those people that are always frugal still have money to spend.
Frugal Advertising Techniques
Flyers: This is an oldie, but a goodie. You can print flyers or brochures with black ink on colored paper to give your flyer some eye-catching punch, while keeping your budget way low. Even color brochure printing isn’t that expensive, and the more you buy, the more money you can save. Try printing flyers with a message that will last you through the holidays so that you can order a large number and continue using them for the next few months. Bulk discount and longetivity sound good to me!
Write a great press release: If you can get the media to do a story about you, whether in your local newspaper or magazine, that’s free advertising right there. It’s even better than running an ad in the publication because people will know that you didn’t pay for the coverage!
Word-of-mouth advertising and referrals: This is one I turn to when times are tough and it works well. Offer an incentive that you can afford to give to current customers who drive new customers your way. Whether it’s one free item or a discount on a service, as long as the referral will end up covering the cost of the free item for your current customer, you’ll build goodwill with current customers and get new ones!
Find an advertising partner: This is a business or person who offers a product or service that complements yours. You can either split ad costs with this person and offer customers a two-for-one type of deal, or you can simply exchange business cards and brochures to set up in each other’s store. Either way, it’s cheap advertising for both of you.
If you need more ideas, you can look up “guerrilla marketing techniques,” which are cheap ways to market your business that rely more on time and imagination than money.