Advertising in Tough Times

Laurie L. Wilson |

Your first reaction to a sales slowdown in tough economic times is to cut spending on advertising, isn’t it? But doing so is probably one of the most expensive things you can do.
Most of the people trying to fix the economy now don’t advocate saving more money or cutting down on debt; they’re calling for increases in spending. And while spending yourself out of a bad economy seems to make as much sense as a drunk drinking himself sober, the experts are correct — spending will be part of the solution.
We thought that we could always borrow more than we needed and make up the difference later on. Well, yesterday’s “later” is now, and reality says we must produce work that generates more cash than it costs to create. In other words, we now must generate advertising that produces more in sales than the ads cost to create.
The party’s over. Ads that only let you pat yourself on the back and tell the world how wonderful you are aren’t going to cut it. It’s crunch time; it’s time to create ads that sell and generate a profit.
Institutional advertising listing a name and phone number might have worked in the 1800s, when the newspaper was new. Back then, hanging out a shingle with your name and occupation was enough to bring in business. We’ve come a long way, baby!
Brand advertising like Gucci’s, Apple’s and the Gap’s may be wonderful for creating a sense of style or positioning for your business. But these ads work because the companies have big profit margins and wealthy customers.
Most drycleaners aren’t in that echelon of business, and shouldn’t try to create ads that cater to it. No, it’s time to roll up those shirtsleeves and get back to the basics with ads.
You know — the kinds of ads that sell people on the benefits of the products and services drycleaners offer. Ads that will give people a reason to do business with us: “It’s ready, it’s right, or it’s free.” “Suits, $17.99; Dresses, $20.00!”
I can hear you thinking, “Are you nuts?! Those prices are higher than our normal, nonsale prices.” And that, folks, is another article entirely. Your regular prices are too low. Tough times are the best times to raise them.

About the author

Laurie L. Wilson

L. Wilson Group LLC

Founder and “Chief Motivation Officer”

Laurie L. Wilson is the founder and “chief motivation officer” of L. Wilson Group LLC, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her organization serves a variety of corporations and individuals. For the drycleaning industry, Wilson provides keynotes, consulting, coaching and training on team dynamics and development, client and community alignment, and personal and professional effectiveness. She spent 20 years in the retail fashion industry, and has served as director of fashion, trend research and community relations for Mercantile Stores Co. She can be reached by phone at 513-383-5390, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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