The 100-year marketing advice

“A man who stops advertising to save money, is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” As profound as this statement was back in the 1920s, Henry Ford’s words still hold a strong message to modern businesses. Chris Globe, director of Inside The Box Marketing looks at how it still applies to our industry today.

In today’s world, advertising takes many forms; no longer confined just to magazines, we have seen businesses become more creative in their attempts to market and promote their products and services. But when uncertainty hits, from local or global economic slowdown, and sales fall, businesses often decide to cut their advertising or marketing feeling they cannot afford to continue.

Would you stop a clock if you were running out of time? Of course not. So, as marketers, the frustration felt when clients cut their marketing activities as a first wave of cost saving is almost unbearable.

Generally, these actions are borne out of the need to look at the situation in the short-term, and the view is that one of the easiest areas within a business to cut out quickly – and make an immediate saving – is marketing.

However, even the shortest of periods of not doing anything could undermine all your previous marketing efforts, and the work you have done to promote your business, products and services.

The fact that we are still debating this issue almost 100 years after Ford said it means that companies are still inclined to panic when times are tough.
While cutting marketing spend is not the answer, focusing on where that budget should be spent, is.

Reviewing what you have been doing, and approaching your marketing with a new focus, is a great way to reinvigorate and stay ahead of your competition; simply doing what you have always done – even if you have had success – is no longer the answer in today’s technologically changing times. There will always be other, better things you can add to your plans to improve your results.

What are your USPs? What sets you apart? What is going to make a customer want to talk to you? Are your messages aligned with your customers’ expectations? Being clear about what you are trying to achieve, what you want to say, and where you want to say it, is key.

One common question is: “How do we know if our marketing is working?”

Things were always a lot less complicated before the internet: you placed an advert, and either your phone rang or more people visited your showroom, or they didn’t. You knew quickly if an advertising message had hit the spot or not.

Today, the first recourse of any potential customer is to visit your website to find out more before contacting you.

This means you may never have access to a potential customer, giving you no chance to sell directly to them. This is a fact of marketing life in the 21st century and is never going to change.

For an industry like ours, where the vast majority of sales still need human interaction, this adds another dynamic: you still get the opportunity to sell. Therefore, your website needs to be sufficiently appealing to ensure that when someone sees your advert, and they visit your website, they still want to talk to you.

Henry Ford’s comments appear as relevant today as they did at the time – so it’s time that marketing assumed its rightful position as the key discipline which drives success in all businesses and for its budgets to be untouchable.