Should I advertise in a down economy?

by Ken Sethney, Volunteer Business Mentor, SCORE Kitsap

A recent article on dealt with a couple of difficult questions: “What Is a recession, and are we in one?” Three experts answered the questions. From a technical perspective we’re not there yet, but we could be very soon. 

OK, fine. I’m not a college professor, a manager of economic research, or an investment strategies advisor, but from my perspective, we’re smack dab in the middle of a recession. The question we all face is what do we do about it?

If you own a business, you want to cut costs, but where? For some companies the decision is easy… the first cut they make is advertising. But you’re not so sure.

As as advertising agency creative director for ten years and a marketing coach for another ten years or so, I can think of eight good reasons to continue advertising during a recession. They might even justify boosting your budget, but only if you are prepared to come out the other side as a market leader!

Aggressive advertising can help you capture market share while your weaker competitors are slashing ad budgets and waiting out the storm.

Your sales team needs help, now more than ever. While existing customers are cutting orders, advertising is needed to identify new prospects. 

Memories are short. Buyers can easily forget your name. If a competitor continues to advertise, they are the one most likely to be called upon and remembered.

Advertising is an important part of your sales team. You aren’t going to eliminate your sales staff just because business is slow. Why would you cut off the most important element of sales support?

It takes time to make a sale. Advertising has a cumulative effect. If you cut your ads today, you’ll lose the ground you’ve gained. Continuity is the single most important factor in effective advertising.

Good advertising generates sales. If you cut your advertising, the sales slump you experience may be self-inflicted. Your customers still need what you’re selling, don’t they? 

There is more to advertising than immediate sales. It is an inexpensive way to keep in touch with customers, to let them know that you are alive and well in spite of the slow-down.

New conditions create new needs. The recession may be creating new prospects for your products or services and advertising will help you find them.

If you would like to meet with an experienced business person who has volunteered his or her time to help people like you, reach out to a SCORE mentor today! SCORE’s mentoring services are free.

Ken Sethney is a volunteer business mentor and branch manager for the Kitsap branch of SCORE. He started his first business in 1976, and several more after that. Contact him by email at

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