I get it. In the world of business ownership, much like the world of home ownership, it seems like the expenses never stop coming. You need to pay your employees, pay the rent, utilities, licensing fees, insurance, get products in the store, etc, etc, etc. So when you’re balancing the budget and trying to keep your checkbook from catching on fire, you look for things to cut. Typically, marketing is one of those things – seen as a luxury which would be nice to have, but isn’t realistic. And all those advertising salespeople ringing your phone off the hook just make you want to put your guard up and say “No, we’re not interested, we can’t afford it right now”.
What I want to say to you is why can’t you afford it right now? And before your guard goes up, I’m not a salesperson. So just think about why. Is it because sales aren’t going quite the way you thought they would? Or because you’ve spent money on everything else so you want to wait until some people start rolling through the door to bankroll an ad campaign? Don’t get defensive, these make sense. BUT, you need to adjust your way of thinking. Let me give you an example.
When you go to the store and buy a bunch of groceries, you know that money is never going to magically reappear in your checking account. Groceries are certainly a necessity, and are a lot more economical than eating out all the time, but the $100 you spent isn’t ever coming back. Now, think about when you buy a stock. You’re not buying it to eat or serve some other purpose, you’re buying it in the hopes that you’ve done enough research to be reasonably confident that the $100 you forked over will multiply and become $150 or $200 or more. So while you might subtract it from your bank account for the moment, the chance of that money coming back exists.
THIS is where most business owners go wrong when they think about marketing. Marketing is not like groceries – it’s like stocks. It is an investment made in your business that, if done well and through the right channels for your particular industry, should bring you a positive ROI. When business slows, marketing absolutely should under no circumstances be the thing that gets cut. After all, if it is designed to improve business and increase brand awareness, why would you get rid of it at a time of year when you need these things most? I get that you only have a defined amount of cash, but if you treat marketing like the necessity it is, then you can typically find other areas to trim to make the budget work.
Now, I’m not saying that you should suddenly buy into every single advertising opportunity that comes your way. You’d go broke real fast if you did that, considering how many different media channels exist and the fact that not every type of advertising is right for every business. But if you change the way you think about marketing, do your research, and work with someone who understands your company and who your target market is, then paying to promote your company won’t be a minus sign in your books for long.
Need specific advice? Have any particularly good or bad experiences with marketing you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!