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 – – 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.)

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