August 2009

Supply Side

The importance of advertising in tough times

By J. Baird

Since 1906, American Business Media — the U.S. association of business information providers — has been delivering business intelligence to industry, Madison Avenue, Wall Street and the Beltway. Its 350-plus member companies reach an audience of more than 100 million professionals, and represent nearly 6,000 print and online titles, 1,000 trade shows and well over $33 billion in annual revenues.

ABM has recently produced a PowerPoint presentation entitled “The Importance and Value of Advertising During Times of Economic Uncertainty.” The presentation summarizes the wealth of data that has been accumulated over time, clearly demonstrating that companies who either continued or aggressively increased their advertising during tough times experienced overall growth as well as continual growth past the period of economic uncertainty.

A survey of 162 business-to-business marketers in October 2008 demonstrated that marketers understand the importance of advertising in hard times. While 30 per cent of respondents expected to decrease their budgets, 40 per cent would retain the same budgets and 30 per cent would increase their spending. Queried on their medium of choice for their largest budget increases, 49 per cent of those planning to increase advertising named online advertising, 17 per cent said direct mail, 14 per cent said events (such as trade shows) and 9 per cent said print.

Even in a depressed economy, more than 95 per cent of executives maintain a high interest in learning about and investing in new products or services. Of the same audience, 86 per cent agree that when a company advertises in a troubled economy, they feel more positive about that company’s commitment to its products or services and it keeps those companies top-of-mind when purchases are to be made.

One study that analyzed the performance of more than 600 business-to-business firms concluded that those that maintained or increased their advertising expenditures averaged significantly higher sales growth during and for three years following the recession, compared to those that eliminated or decreased advertising.

The presentation concluded by saying: “Advertising aggressively in a recession can not only boost sales and market share, it can also open a lead on the more timid competition. It can skilfully reposition a product to take advantage of new purchasing concerns, give the image of corporate stability within a chaotic business environment, and give an advertiser the chance to dominate the advertising media.”

Jon Baird
Jon Baird, managing director of CAMESE and the immediate past president of PDAC, is interested in collective approaches to enhancing the Canadian brand in the world of mining.

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