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During a recession, cutting unnecessary expenditures from a business’s budget seems like a logical first step in cost savings.  However, do NOT cut your advertising budget if at all possible.  During a recession it is essential to not only maintain current advertising presence, but to consider expansion.  Many other businesses will be cutting their advertising budget, giving your business an advantage.  You can create a dominant presence: the business that stands out while others are fading into the background.  Since the media will be losing clients, more space will be available, leaving you with the perfect opportunity to negotiate for better pricing for newspaper, radio, and T.V. spots. 
If you start considering cutting your advertising budget, first determine whether your ROI (Return on Investment) is positive of negative.  If you pay $1000 for a newspaper ad, and make $2500 off the ad, then you have a positive ROI, and you should seriously consider keeping the ad.  If you only make $800, and have a negative ROI, then cutting the ad may be something to carefully consider.  If you find that you must cut your advertising budget, look to the Internet and social networking sites for less expensive and more effective options.

“A great point to keep in mind when you advertise is to make certain that the channel you are using is dense with your audience.  For instance, if I am an insurance broker and my chief target are entrepreneurs, then advertising in the mass media in the 'carpet bombing, needle in the haystack' approach will really not work and may prove expensive, with lower ROI, even if it does work.  Meanwhile, a program for a gala for entrepreneurs may prove to be less expensive and more productive in producing leads.  So the moral of the story is: you will achieve better, more cost effective results by knowing where your audience/prospect is and what he/she is doing.  Attack (showcase your ads) when and where the target audience is 'densest' and most receptive. This will save you money and effort.” – J.M. De Jesus, Brooklyn SBDC

“Guerrilla marketing - low cost, yet highly effective marketing, which might include networking, the internet, referrals, etc. - is where it's at right now, although traditional advertising definitely has its place too.  If you haven't done so already, you need to systematically analyze your target market - including your existing base - so you can determine the best methods to reach out to them. 

It's  important to remember that your customers are probably being impacted by the economic 'reset' as well - so you want to present solutions that show how dealing with your business can actually help their financial picture (not just yours)... maybe by making their buying choices more informed, or showing that your product is a sensible option and not a luxury. 

Too many businesses slow their advertising and marketing during tough economic times, but that just doesn't make sense.  How can you have more customers if fewer people know about you?  Cultivate your existing base, and keep marketing to new and old customers.  That's how you'll get past this rough patch, and your non-marketing competitors won't.” – Sarah O’Connell, Watertown SBDC


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Recession Survival Guide for Small Business