Advertising Basics: I Don't Have An Advertising Budget

Thursday, July 11, 2013 - by Clint Powell
Clint Powell
Clint Powell

I am at the Starbucks on Brainerd Road one day and one of my media reps commented that I drink a lot of coffee.  I do.  But of course, I denied it and said I drink the average amount. It got me thinking so for the next day or so I made mental notes…and yes I drank (still do) a lot of coffee. More than average.  However, I wasn’t super aware of it until she pointed it out. I hope this brief article will help some folks be more aware of their advertising and marketing. 

Over the years I have talked with hundreds of business owners and decision makers about their advertising and marketing budget. You would be amazed at how many of them tell me they don’t really have an ad or marketing budget. I just smile and keep asking them questions (if you ever work with a marketing person who doesn’t ask a lot of questions…run). What typically transpires during our talk is a pretty amazing thing. They do have a budget. 

Now it’s not on paper.  It’s not on the books.  But here is how it normal goes. 

Me – ‘What do you do to market and advertise?’  Client ‘Nothing really. We have tried a few things, but nothing sticks.’ Me – ‘Things like what?’ Client – ‘Well we tried radio for a few months…nothing. Then we ran a few ads in the paper last year. And we ran some TV stuff over the weekends because it was cheap.’  

As we talk I realize they ran radio on the wrong station – the paper ad was tucked away in the land of the lost and they had no real reason to run it to begin with – they ran on TV over a few weekends and the ad said call them now, but they aren’t open on the weekends. Plus we found out they sponsor three little league teams, spend money on business cards for four employee several times a year, have a phone service for folks while they hold,  have print materials they hand out, do a few expos each year, etc. 

You get the point…they do spend money on advertising and marketing…but there is no intentionality behind it. It’s haphazard. So when your plans are chaotic it’s hard to measure or see any real progress or growth. When there is no real plan there should be no real expectations. 

If you’re great at selling widgets and you start trying to buy advertising or put together a marketing plan, it can be tricky. Think about it, there are over 25 radio stations in the Chattanooga market, several print options, a number of local magazines, many couponing opportunities, four broadcast TV stations, several cable options, a number of billboard companies, video and mobile marketing, web banners, not to mention social media, direct mail, event marketing, etc. We are hit with over 3,000 advertising messages every day.  Every day.  

We don’t take vacations without planning the trip. We pick a destination and then we map it out. We know where to stop, we know when rush hours are, we know what roads to take and which ones to avoid and we have an expected time of arrival. Many business owners just spend money on ‘things’ because they know they need to be doing something. 

It’s not really my clients fault, they are busy. They have payroll, they have schedules, employee issues, meetings, the day-to-day tasks of keeping a business running. Plus it isn’t what they do. Being great in one industry doesn’t make you great in another. I know lots of great mechanics who have no idea about marketing – but no one comes to me to fix their car either.

There are three things you can do right now to help get your marketing under control.  

1) 1) Be intentional. Don’t just give it the leftover dollars and scraps of time. Find marketing and advertising professional you trust and pull all the numbers together. Talk goals and destination and then develop a road map on how to get there. Be intentional about everything you do. Leaving it to chance is a great opportunity for your competition to stake the ground and claim the hill.  

2) Set a marketing budget and set an advertising budget. Usually the ad budget will be between 3-20 percent of your gross. I know that sounds like a big swing, but it depends on the industry and it depends on the goals and duration of the campaign. (The core average will fall between 8-15 percent).

3) Let them do their job. Trust them. You are good at what you do, if you find someone you trust and has a track record of success, let them do what their good at. 

Next week we will talk about controlling what you can control, the four things that will help set your advertising up for success. 

Clint Powell – Connect Marketing – www.connectchattanooga.com – 505-1014


(Clint Powell is owner of Connect Marketing in Chattanooga. He is a graduate of Carson-Newman College and also has his real estate license. After nine years in radio advertising sales and management he decided a new challenge was in order and he built Scenic Outdoor Media, a billboard company. Scenic Outdoor specialized in billboard placement and advertising. He sold that company in 2007 and started working on a contract basis with local ad agencies helping formulate strategies and writing ad copy for local and regional companies. Clint has worked with hundreds of local and regional companies over the years and helped them develop advertising and marketing campaigns. He frequently leads marketing and advertising seminars and meetings for businesses and network groups. He believes that life is all about connections and spends his time connecting businesses and business owners to solutions. He sits on the board of Y-Cap (YMCA Community Action Program) and helps with several other non-profits. Clint currently resides in East Ridge with his wife and three children.)





Senator David Perdue Says The Debt Crisis Is Directly Impacting The Ability To Protect The Nation

Senator David Perdue, a member of the Senate Budget and Foreign Relations Committees, on Thursday highlighted the impact the federal debt crisis is having on the country’s ability to support the military and protect the nation.   Here are highlights: Responsibly Funding The Federal Government:  “The primary role of Congress is to responsibly fund the federal ... (click for more)

Department Of Labor And Workforce Development Awards Hamilton County Job Training Grants

Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced on Thursday, the department has awarded $50,000 in Incumbent Worker Training Grants to two companies in Hamilton County. Incumbent Worker Training Grants assist employers with upgrading skills to avoid layoffs of their employees. “By helping employers throughout the state provide the ... (click for more)

Federal Judge Rules That Hutcheson Medical Center And Its Trustees Owe Erlanger $36,379,968.20

A federal judge at Rome, Ga., has ruled that the Hospital Authority of Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties and Hutcheson Medical Center are liable to pay Erlanger Health System $36,379,968.20. Judge Harold Murphy, in a 90-page opinion, discarded a counter-claim brought by Hutcheson against Erlanger. He directed that Erlanger be paid $20 million for money it spent while managing ... (click for more)

Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson Hospitalized; 2 Cleveland Police Officers Injured After Altercation With Man With History Of Assaults

Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson and two Cleveland Police officers were injured Thursday while intervening in a domestic assault in progress. While driving on 25 th St. N.W. Sheriff Watson witnessed the assault, it was stated. When the sheriff tried to intervene, the man involved in the assault attacked him. During the scuffle the man struck Sheriff Watson numerous times, ... (click for more)

Jill Levine Is An Educational Rock Star

No one has covered the Hamilton County Department of Education drama better than Roy Exum.  Thank you, Roy, but I take issue with your unnamed sources.  Professional jealousy and sour grape darts should not be anonymous.   HCDE is so dysfunctional, and there is good cause to place this public organization under a microscope, dissect it into pieces and discard all ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Cancer Is Not A Battle

I read a marvelous essay not long ago where the author urged, “Stop telling the lie that cancer is a battle … a battle implies a fair fight, and there was nothing fair about my cancer or the cancer that took the life of my friend. Those experiences were about as fair as getting hit by a car – and nobody says people lose their battles with automobiles.” Mary Elizabeth Williams, ... (click for more)