Here I sit in Victorville, California, on a working vacation. The lovely Mrs. McKay and I are taking some time to visit all three of our daughters (and play with the grandkids), and I’ve had the privilege of speaking before several Southern California service organizations this week.
Yesterday I was the guest speaker at the weekly meeting of Victorville, California’s Victor Valley Marketing Group. I’ve known about half of these people for years. I used to be a member of this group. Of course, there were only 30 of us then. In the last three years the group membership has doubled.
When I went through the steps of creating an advertising budget, my long-time friend Bob Sole, owner of Express Blinds, asked a pertinent question: “Once you’ve created a budget, how long do you have to advertise at that level before enough people know about you that you can cut back on your advertising?”
I don’t believe that you ever can. In fact, if your business is successful, you’ll probably be investing ever-larger sums in advertising. Here are two reasons why.
The purpose of advertising is largely to expose your business to people who don’t pass by and see your sign on a daily basis. The best thing that you can do to promote your business is to locate in the busiest intersection in town, then hang out a “now open” sign. Find an area with enough traffic, and you may not need to advertise at all. Most of us though, don’t have prime locations. The farther we locate from where people naturally congregate, the more we need to use other means (ie: advertising) to remind those people to come and do business with us.
One of the realities of any community is that it’s a continually changing entity. And no matter how great your location was ten years ago, the population and traffic patterns have probably shifted to some other prime location in the last decade. Perhaps you’ll find it makes sense to relocate every eight to ten years. A number of national grocery chains do that with their stores for this very reason. Then again, you may find that its more cost effective to simply keep inviting people to your current location.
The second reason is that people move. According to the United States Postal Service, approximately 17% of the people in any given community relocate each year. Run the math and you’ll find (worst case) that after ten years only 19% of the people who “knew” you a decade ago still remember you. Add a small growth in population, and that figure can drop by a couple more percentage points.
This brings out an odd contradiction, doesn’t it? The faster your community’s population grows, the more money there is in circulation. That usually means more business happens by default. Long term, though, it also means that you’re becoming lost in the crowd.
Look around town. Are some of your old customers disappearing? Are new people moving to town? Have the traffic patterns changed in the last decade?
Can you afford to assume that enough people have heard about you to quit inviting them into your business? That’s roughly like dropping your hook into the water without bait. Not an efficient strategy when you’re when you’re fishing for customers.
How do you advertise your business? Do you have an annual plan? Should you? Start a conversation with Chuck by email at [email protected] Or call him at 317-207-0028.