NUmedia: Advertising? In this economy? 

Yes, absolutely. 100%. Couldn't be a better time.

And yes, I know how ludicrous that sounds. Believe me. I work in an environment whose financial health relies on the availability of marketers and our ability earn fair share of their budgets (which are currently being attacked with red ink and hostility). However, if you have a solid handle on these three things, then yes, you are currently being presented with an opportunity.

1) Message- Who are you hoping to attract? What are their lives like right now? What role does your product or service play in their lives? Relating to your customer/client is crucial in times like these. Things that have been taken for granted- job security, healthcare, schooling- have become daily stressors and are garnering more of their time and attention. But for those same reasons, consumers across the country are modifying their once habitual spending behaviors- looking for lower prices or better value. (See Mayor Ballard approving the purchase of Toyotas for the city, despite the sticker price, for their better fuel economy.) Decision makers are actively looking for options!

Yet, at such an opportune time, most organizations are cutting back their marketing budgets. It is often a short-sighted reaction. Customers you gain now, while difficult to earn, may offer the best long-term return as they stay with your high-value product or service, even after the economy recovers.

2) Media- I truly believe there's no such thing as bad media. That's not to say, however, that all media will perform equally for you. Most companies- when faced with a financial decision- will cut their budget by a necessary percentage or dollar figure, then figure out how to allocate it. If I were in the room, I might suggest a different tact. That being ensuring media are subjected to performance reviews prior to budget adjustments and allocations. If I have advertising efforts that outperform some other revenue generating factor, then perhaps that should be considered at the same time as the expense burden. Which brings me to...

3) Metrics- Advertising carries with it an inherent risk. But these days the technology exists to greatly diminish that risk and make reasonable and scientific conclusions about the success of your efforts. These could range from something simple- like a physical coupon in a Super Shopper- to the advanced- like post click conversion analysis for online advertising. But, at the minimum, you should know how much a customer/client is worth (on average) and how much it costs to attain them (per media outlet).

Amazon, several years ago, somewhat famously stated that they had an unlimited budget for advertising. But there was a significant caveat: The budget was unlimited for any source that would produce a customer for less than $33 a piece- above their profit threshold at the time. Amazon tracked all of its sources closely. For any media that generated customers for, on average, $33 or less, they continued to reinvest.

I wouldn't expect everyone to match Amazon's analysis of media. But I would hope that in a competitive environment, marketers and business owners alike see the difference between cutting costs and cutting revenue.

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