Streetfighters – Recession-proof your business

Many of our clients have been expressing their concerns about a possible economic slowdown. They've asked us for specific recommendations on how to thrive in such an environment. Any pizza business would also benefit from what we recommend:

Don't stop advertising – One of the biggest mistakes business people make is cutting the advertising budget when business slows. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The time to advertise is when you need the business the most. When times are leaner, it's tougher to get consumers and businesses to spend. That's when you have to be aggressive. Saving money on your advertising is a sure way to kill your sales.

Budget your advertising based on objective, not as a percentage of sales – Many businesses budget their advertising based on sales, yet the time you need the sales the most is when you've cut the budget. Instead, consider budgeting based on objective. Ask yourself what it is you want your advertising to do for your business and how much will it cost to get you there? You can use a percentage as a general guide in budgeting, but when business is strong and you're working to capacity, that's the time to stash some cash for a rainy day.

Re-evaluate your existing advertising program – During leaner times it's critical that you squeeze every bit of exposure you can for the dollars you spend on advertising. Take advantage of manufacturers' co-op programs. Ask your media sales rep if there are any special opportunities, like remnant space or volume discounts. Perhaps if you're advertising on three different radio stations, cut it back to only two stations with the same budget. Let the three stations fight over who will get the buys based on the value they offer you. Learn how to read and understand the ratings. Have them provide you, not only the cost per commercial, but cost per every 1,000 subscribers, listeners or viewers (called CPM). Also, keep in mind that print advertising often had 'pass-along' readership. Don't confuse 'subscribers' with 'readers.'

It's not good advertising unless it sells – Regardless of the media you use, make sure your advertising copy sells the message you want. Your newspaper ads, for example, must have a strong benefit headline to grab the reader's interest. Focus the body copy on what's in it for the reader. Have a strong 'call to action' so the reader knows what you want them to do (i.e., call, visit your location, mail money, etc.). Visually make sure your ads grab the potential buyer's attention while, at the same time, reinforcing your selling message. Use enough repetition (frequency) of your message to the same target audience so you can drive home the point. Generally, when your friends start complaining that they see your ad too much, it's just starting to make impact.

Track results whenever possible – A coupon is a great way to see if your print ad is working because it requires redemption. If your call to action is a phone call or visit, ask your customers where they heard about you. This should give you an indication as to where they are coming from.

BizSmart Action Plan

  • Don't stop advertising
  • Look for more ways to squeeze more exposure from your advertising budget
  • Make sure your advertising message 'sells'
  • Track advertising results so you can make informed decisions
  • Using the same budget, consider concentrating more dollars on fewer media to leverage a better cost per audience member

Jeff and Marc Slutsky, co-author of five books including StreetFighting. They are executives of Street Fighter Marketing in Columbus, Ohio which specializes in teaching how to promote, market and increase sales without spending a log of money. Jeff and his brother Marc have a variety of audio and video tapes. For further information contact Jeff or Marc at 800(SLUTSKY) 758-8759, 614/337/2233 fax, 476 Waterbury Court, Columbus, OH 43230.