Many suppliers and manufacturers are confronting significant supply chain challenges. Some are having trouble finding needed parts. Some may be dealing with labor shortages; others are facing lengthy shipping delays. In turn, making sales and fulfilling orders has become difficult in the short term.
It’s understandable if companies are tempted to pull back on advertising if they can’t meet customer demand, but we would highly caution against reducing your visibility in the market.
Cutting back advertising during a supply chain crisis is much the same as cutting back during a recession. Historically, companies that reduce their marketing and advertising during challenging times fall behind competitors and have difficulty catching up when conditions improve. Conversely, companies that continue to advertise often gain market share and emerge from a crisis in a stronger position.
As Henry Ford once said, “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.”
In other words, the savings you hope for simply won’t materialize. Ultimately, it’s less expensive to continue marketing during a crisis than it is to pull out of your marketing channels. Once conditions have improved, you have to reintroduce your brand and rebuild your funnel from the beginning because your company is no longer in the mind of the customer.
But while you shouldn’t cut out advertising during the current supply chain crisis, you should make adjustments to your messaging and marketing approach.
Here are some points to consider:
Think ahead rather than short term
If you’re unable to fulfill orders due to supply chain issues, you might scale back advertising that is intended to drive near-term demand for products. Instead, shift that budget to promote brand awareness and to communicate with your customers so that you stay top of mind for when conditions improve.
Use your advertising dollars to remind the market what your company stands for. Reinforce your brand advantages and strengths. Advertise your overall brand portfolio rather than specific products or services that may be delayed. This way you can stay top of mind with your customers.
Communicate early and often
If your ability to meet customer demand is negatively impacted, communicate the situation clearly to your customers. Stay ahead of what your customers might hear from other sources about the supply chain.
Buyers understand the problem exists, but they want to know where they stand with their vendors. What is your strategy for dealing with the supply chain? What are your company’s priorities? What is your plan? Customers will appreciate honest, straightforward communication and will be more likely to stay loyal to you.
Advertise what you can
If you don’t want to be taking product orders that you can’t fulfill, advertise alternatives that are still within your company’s control. This may be a time to focus on the value propositions you can offer around technical services, consulting, or repairs. It’s also a good time to promote educational content that your audience will value.
Take advantage of advertising terms
As mentioned above, companies that continue to advertise during a crisis can gain an advantage over competitors who pull back. And if some companies are pulling back, you might be able to find better pricing or placement on available inventory from media companies. You might be able to raise the visibility of your brand without throwing your budget out of whack.
Get tough and stay the course. That’s easy to say, and not so easy to do when faced with short-term pressures. But if you keep your brand in front of your audience, communicate honestly with your customer and prospect base, and rethink your advertising messaging, you can weather the supply chain disruption and emerge in a strong market position once conditions improve.