If you're advertising in print media such as newspapers and cannot put a verifiable hard dollar figure on the return, you may want to either stop altogether or ask for a deep discount. If your local paper does not offer an online edition and include print ads there as part of your contract I would seriously consider eliminating this part or your advertising mix. Traditional newspapers are struggling amid declining readership and are simply not a good bargain compared to other options.
Taking the time to audit your advertising contracts can save as much as 50% of your budget and may even allow you to lock in the lowered rates for a year or more.
Now let's take a look at marketing and advertising that is just not pulling its weight any longer.
Although probably a small part of your overall budget, goodwill marketing is rarely an effective marketing strategy when compared to the return. Goodwill marketing can encompass everything from sponsoring little teams, yearbook advertising, charity event sponsorships, civic and youth group events and fundraisers, and involvement in non industry specific community events like job fairs and carnivals. While all these causes are worthwhile, in lean economic times they should be carefully evaluated.
While discount coupon packs and card decks are still viable, individual direct mail is not. In lieu of formal and sometimes costly coupon mailing packs, you might consider partnering with five or six compatible service companies and create your own mailers and send to each other's prospect lists. One successful program is creating a 4x7 refrigerator magnet with all the service companies listed and distributed to all current clients.
The value of home and garden shows varies from market to market, but sponsorship and attendance are way down. Do not fall victim to the belief you must participate because your competition might be. Direct these dollars into geographic specific cable television spots to run during the week the show is in town.
Although bill boards are rarely effective for service companies, the recent glut of this ad space is making for some amazing deals and might be a great place to move newspaper advertising dollars.
This is a short list of possible places to cut marketing costs. The larger point is in unpredictable times it is essential you respond to the market instead of reacting by re-evaluating what your advertising dollars are generating in terms of cold hard cash. If you can't see a direct link between the ad and an increase in sales, it's time to make a change.
Michael Hart is a speaker, author, talk radio host and shameless publicity hound. His marketing and publicity strategies have been featured in numerous magazines including: Selling, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Sales and Marketing Executive Report and many others. He is the co-host of the popular weekly home improvement radio program HOUSE STUDS www.HouseStuds.com He can be reached at (866) 238 5294 or michael@MichaelHartSpeaks.com