Advertising is considered discretionary by many small business owners—but it isn’t. And should never be thought of that way.
We’ve heard all of the normal reasons for it, and each one has some foundation in truth. It didn’t work. No one pays attention to advertising. It is expensive. I did that once. Do I really have to do it again?
I am not going to speak to what works and why because our Great Harvest President is more focused on that area. But I do want to broadly address why all small businesses should be advertising.
One can debate all day what type of advertising works and which is most cost effective, but that is not the point of this post. The point is that trends exist and are hard to change without external intervention. Momentum and inertia are real things. If your sales are flat or declining, you have to assume that will stay the same unless some external event takes place. Those are beyond your control, so what can you control to break the cycle? Advertising. And doing it consistently.
Don’t overlook consistency because it is the net results over time that will push you beyond the impact of a single advertising campaign. Instead of giving up on advertising when you get mixed results, keep trying different things to find something that works. Because doing nothing is sure to fail.
Retail is a trendy business space. You have to stay top of mind with customers to keep growing. And you have to grow just to keep your sales where they are, because some customers will move or otherwise leave your market area. There are many ways to stay top of mind through outstanding service and quality, but it’s not enough by itself. You also need to advertise.
The last point I want to make about advertising is something we see with stores that consistently advertise. And that is the impact of compound growth. If your base trend is zero growth and you take that to plus 10% with advertising, but then stop, it takes a while for it to revert to zero. If you catch it while you are still at plus 5%, for example, and get another bump from additional advertising, you keep ratcheting up your base. Bumping up from 105% gets you to a bigger number than bumping from 100%. And bumping off of a bumped up 105% is bigger still. It is simple compounding and essential to consistent growth.
The world is competitive. You can’t expect luck and circumstance to always bring growth to your door. Consistent advertising can and does.
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