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by Carasue Moody

Every company, no matter how successful, will occasionally go through some bad times. Imagine that your sales figures for this last quarter have come in, and they are disappointing. Maybe you lost customers you had come to depend on; or maybe a promising forecast failed to materialize. Youíre looking for places in your organization to cut back until business gets better, and before you know it youíre eyeing up the advertising department and wondering what it is those people do, anyway!

Of all your operating expenses, advertising is the most illusive. Money that is spent on renovations or equipment gives you a tangible object that you can easily see at work. Advertising does not provide you with same security. While some ads will bring you an immediate customer response, most will not. The main goal of a successful ad campaign is to increase your name recognition and product reputation over a long period of time. So you may be fooled into thinking that cutting back temporarily on your advertising budget will not have the same dire consequences as cutting down on necessary equipment or repairs. This theory makes sense on paper, but in reality now is the time to increase your marketing efforts, not reduce them.

In poor or uncertain economic times, you are not the only one holding onto your purse strings a little tighter. Your consumer is feeling the same crunch, and is looking for ways to manage his purchasing dollars in the most cost effective way possible. To make the wisest choice, your consumer needs to be well educated and up-to-date. They are looking for information that only you (or your competitor) can give him.

One of the best ways for buyers to get reliable, current information about products, services, prices and values is from an ad in a publication like American Waste Digest, which targets the waste industry for you. Independent statistics have shown that a company which advertises below the industry average, has sales that are also below the industry average. What this tells you is that your sales are already dropping, cutting back on your advertising will only make things worse.

Of course, you may be able to argue that your competition is going through the same uncertain economic times as your are, and will probably be cutting back on their advertising, as well. That certainly is a possibility. But can your business afford to take that gamble? Being proved wrong in this assumption is going to be a costly lesson. Remember how long it took to get your business started? Each time you reduce your advertising, you slip a little in the marketplace. After a period of time, it can be just like starting all over again. Playing catch-up in advertising is a lot more expensive than maintaining a steady image. It could also give your customers the erroneous impression that you are not committed to your role in the waste industry.

How can increasing your advertising help you out of an economic slump? Think of your ad as an employee that pre-sells your product and prepares the way for your salespeople. Customers who know what you do and what your product stands for are easier to sell because they have confidence in you before your salesperson even walks in the door or makes that phone call. When customers see you highlighted in AWD with an ad or read about you in the Product and Services Update, they see you as a vibrant, stable company. They will also perceive you as being progressive and successful in the waste management industry.

Face it: Being in business has always had its ups and downs, and the economy may be unpredictable. It is true you canít do much about most of the variables in the business worlds. Rent, labor costs, prices of equipment Ė all of these factors are going to operate independently from any one company. And you canít control what your competition will or will not do. But you can control your promotions, sales support, and advertising.

The waste management industry is alive and growing. People still want and need good equipment, products, and services, and will continue to fuel the economy with consumer dollars. There is plenty of business out there, but the competition is fierce. It may help to remember that when you pick up your next copy of AMERICAN WASTE DIGEST, someone will be advertising in it. Someone who knows how important it is to provide reliable, up-to-date information to potential customers. Someone who will be maintaining visibility in the waste community so that when customers are ready to buy, they know who to call.

Exciting layouts will always be part of the DIGEST. It can be your name at the top of the ad Ė or someone elseís.