Unless you’re an ostrich with your head in the sand, you don’t need to be reminded that these are some pretty tough times. And when times are tough, our instincts tell us to stop spending, tighten the old belt buckle and adopt a wait-and-see approach. But, it is through this very approach, that we will undoubtedly begin to watch our sales drop, our in-store traffic die down and our anxieties rise. Economic slowdown shouldn’t mean a slow down in marketing efforts. In fact, several studies show that advertising during a recession not only maintains your presence in the marketplace for customers who may need your products or services during this period, but after the tough times subside, you’re apt to gain more market share than the competitors that chose to be nonexistent, cutting their advertising all-together. Case-in-point is the McGraw-Hill study following the 1981-1982 recession that determined the business-to-business firms that maintained or increased their advertising during that recession grew their sales 275% from 1980-1985. Those firms that cut ad spending only averaged 19% growth during the same period. The best advice in times like these is to cut back, but not altogether. Think of it as going on diet. You have to eat, just reduce the fat. You have to advertise, just be lean and mean. And, being lean and mean means making sure your message is relevant, consistent, and commands action. How to compose a LEAN and MEAN advertisement. First and foremost, know the market you want to reach and know what they want to hear. Ask your closest customers for their opinion and why your product or service appeals to them. Also, ask what would make their buying decision easier. Is it really price? Or is it convenience, quality, or value? The answer may surprise you. This information becomes the foundation of your advertising message. The headline of your ad should capture your prospects’ interest with an appeal. Keep in mind, nothing will happen unless your headline makes the reader want to learn more about what you are offering. Be bold, exciting, even daring! Understand that your reader will simply turn the page if your ad bores them. Use eye-catching graphics or a compelling photo or illustration to add interest. Incorporate tried and true appeals that focus on things like: Making money, Saving money, Security, Better Health, Better Job, Better Future, Prestige, Enjoyment, Easier Living, More Leisure, More Comfort, or Freedom from worry. Add positive action words like: Introducing, Announcing, At last, New, Now, Beginning, How to. Avoid the negative approach whenever possible. Use “You’ll get more”, as opposed to “Don’t get less”. People want to hear the good, not the bad, especially in these tough times. Maintain interest throughout the entire body copy. Keep the ad focused on the benefits your customer will receive by using your product or service. And finally, always include a call to action. Is this a limited-time offer? Is the supply limited? Make the customer think that they may miss out if they don’t call or visit today. Executing a LEAN and MEAN marketing campaign: To be truly effective your ad should run repeatedly over a period of time, we recommend a minimum of six times. The more readers see you in print, the more they will remember you. It is always better to run a smaller ad with repeated frequency than a larger ad just once. Keeping the format of the ad consistent can help bring recognition to your company name and its products or service. MEASURE and ANALYZE your efforts. Make sure to weigh your efforts! After the campaign is all said and done, measure its impact on your business. What was the increase in sales? Did you gain more customers? Analyze what worked, and what might have worked better. Understand that marketing is a process and that every effort helps to fine-tune and better plan future strategies. On Track Marketing Consultants is an Orlando-based consulting firm that focuses on integrated marketing solutions. You can reach them by phone at (407) 375-5598.