The Perils of ‘Oily Rag’ Thinking

Positive Marketing Momentum

It is largely unknown or not understood by the new small business person that marketing momentum used positively means that over time you will need to spend less and less on your marketing program.

Marketing has its own momentum. If you stop marketing for two, three or six months, you will have a corresponding soft patch or trough in business sales and enquiries further down the track. How much further down the track and how much effect is largely to do with the location and type of business you have. But ultimately your business will die a slow and agonising death. There is no such thing as a business staying the same – same is death. A business is either growing or it is dying.

Negative Marketing Momentum

For the rocking horse business a stop of all marketing activity for a period of 2-3 weeks would result in a noticeable downturn in business in 2-3 month’s time. Telephone and web enquiries dropped off gradually to a trickle.  Reduced enquiries, reduced business, reduced income and so it goes.

When times get tough, it is instinctive for many small businesses, (and many large businesses) who rely exclusively on paying for their promotion and marketing, to radically curtail or stop spending on marketing and substitute it with  – you guessed it –  nothing. They then wonder why business continues to slow. Their attitude is “Whew! We survived that month with no marketing expenditure, maybe I can get through the next month.” It continues until you are flattened financially with no hope of regaining any momentum because your own and/or your staff’s morale is in tatters on the floor. One of the most important prerequisites to being a good Shoestring Marketer and business person is self-belief – see the 7 P’s of Shoestring Marketing and Poise, so morale is big deal.

When there is an economic downturn, do not assume that “better” economic times are around the corner and you can run the business on the smell of an oily rag until it picks up. In the last few years the economy has slowed, and slowed, and slowed. It slows, then it slows some more and you’re still in “oily rag” mode, working impossible hours making less money. You don’t have the energy, time or inclination to work “on” the business because you’re so buried “in” the business. It’s a recipe for self-destruction.

Managing Supply & Demand through Marketing Momentum

Rule 1 – Never stop marketing. If you have a business, you should always be doing some from of marketing. You may wish to vary the type and intensity of marketing when your  efforts have been so effective that demand outstrips your ability supply and you risk disappointing or annoying potential customers with long waiting periods or inferior product.

Waiting lists or back orders can be great for your entrepreneurial ego, but no good for your business long term as they threaten your business credibility. Part of being a good shoestring marketer and business person is about matching demand and supply in an acceptable time frame to your customers. When we had more demand than we could supply, we slowed things with a careful combination of price increase and reduction in marketing activity, but we continued to take up and pursue any free exposure opportunities that presented themselves on our laps.