The textbook definition of a recession is a period of declining economic performance across an entire economy, frequently measured as two consecutive quarters. In other words: it's a time when most Fort Myers area small business owners sell fewer of their goods and services.
There is one thing a recession is not. It is not a time for Southwest Florida business owners to stop advertising.
One of the greatest marketers of all time, Henry Ford, once said, "The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time."
The bowl of cereal you ate this morning could be all the proof you need that Mr. Ford's observation is accurate.
The New Yorker magazine financial columnist James Surowiecki writes, “In the late nineteen-twenties, two companies—Kellogg and Post—dominated the market for packaged cereal. It was still a relatively new market: ready-to-eat cereal had been around for decades, but Americans didn’t see it as a real alternative to oatmeal or cream of wheat until the twenties.”
“So, when the Depression hit, no one knew what would happen to consumer demand. Post did the predictable thing: it reined in expenses and cut back on advertising. But Kellogg doubled its ad budget, moved aggressively into radio advertising, and heavily pushed its new cereal, Rice Krispies. (Snap, Crackle, and Pop first appeared in the thirties.)
“By 1933, even as the economy cratered, Kellogg’s profits had risen almost thirty percent, and it had become what it remains today: the industry’s dominant player.”
What you ate for lunch could also be an example of a company that thrived by advertising its way through a recession.
In a recent article in Forbes, media consultant Brad Adgate explains that "In the 1990-91 recession, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell took advantage of McDonald’s decision to drop its advertising and promotion budget. As a result, Pizza Hut increased sales by 61%, Taco Bell sales grew by 40% and McDonald’s sales declined by 28%."
Many SWFL business owners, unfortunately, do not have the financial resources of Kellogg's or Pizza Hut. So, it is inevitable that some advertising budgets may need to be trimmed or re-configured. For those companies, advertising on Fort Myers radio makes the best sense for several reasons.
According to Nielsen, one of the most potent components of a marketing campaign, as it relates to sales, is reach. This is the number of consumers who actually are exposed to an advertiser's message.
Reach, it turns out, is more powerful than targeting, branding, context, or recency.
Fort Myers radio, provides, by far, the largest reach of any local advertising medium. It reaches significantly more consumers than local TV, local newspaper, social media platforms like Facebook, or streaming audio sites like Pandora and Spotify.
Over the past few years, Nielsen has conducted over 20 studies to determine what type of ROI a business can expect from radio advertising. Although the results varied by industry, the average company generated $100 in sales for ever $10 invested.
The chart below shows the range of returns from each study.
AdAge, a trade magazine for advertising professionals, calls these types of return "eye-popping". The magazine goes on to say radio's ROI is superior to commercials on TV, online, and social media.
Southwest Florida business owners have always known that they can expect impressive returns-on-investment when advertising on Fort Myers radio stations.
"During our first full year of sales," says Mr. Denson, "we sold 600 cars, 100 more than General Motors expected from us. This year, we are on track to sell 2000 cars. Advertising on Fort Myers radio has been part of our growth since the very beginning."
Mr. Denson became a big believer in radio during the 15 years he spent managing dealerships in Ft. Wayne, Phoenix, and Sarasota-Bradenton.
"When I became an owner here in 2007, I had to make sure every dollar we spent counted, because, now, it was my money. Since we opened, advertising on Fort Myers radio has proven to deliver the value and return-on-investment we need to continue our year-over-year growth."
Advertising During Downturns Has Extraordinary Value
A study published by WARC determined that increasing advertising during a downturn has extraordinary long term value for any business.
According to the study, "those advertisers who increase spending, whether modestly or aggressively, achieve greater market share gains than those who cut their advertising investment. This, in turn, puts them in a better position to increase profits after the recession.
One can hope that the next recession will be slight. But hope will not guarantee an SWFL small business owner's ability to survive or even thrive during a downturn. Advertising can be a lifeline.
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