(By Bob McCurdy) One consequence of the past month is that previously closed advertising minds will now likely be open, as most businesses are in need of immediate mouth-to-mouth economic resuscitation.
Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman in their book, Strategic Selling, refer to the four “response” modes that determine the likelihood that an advertiser would be receptive to a sales overture, with the prospect’s perception of their immediate business circumstances determining their mode. The four are:
Over-Confident – “My business is great”.
Even Keel – “Things are good. I don’t want to rock the boat at this time”.
Growth – “I am growing but want to grow faster”.
Trouble – “I need help”.
I’ll add a fifth one as of a month ago: Calamitous- “My business is on life support”.
Do any of us know of any business that is in the “over-confident”, “even keeled”, or “growth” mode? Likely not many unless they are Amazon, an online grocer or in the mask, PPE or hand sanitizer business.
Businesses are looking for solutions to help them survive this crisis. This makes every business a solid prospect. Local businesses are in extreme need of our experience, guidance and our creativity. In such tumultuous times, advertisers will likely be open to solutions they might have dismissed only a few short weeks ago, so it is important for us to be visible with open ears.
Another likely by-product of the current situation is that the “economic buyer”, the individual who controls the purse strings, will be more likely to engage investigating ways to jumpstart their business. Reaching these individuals should be a top priority even if it means leap-frogging any pre-virus hierarchies that might have existed.
We are the media experts who possess years of experience working with and helping local small businesses thrive. We should approach these prospects not as a vendor but a solutions provider, similar to the way a doctor approaches a patient. Ask questions, listen intently, evaluate options, enlist the best thinking of our peers when necessary and then prescribe a remedy.
It is also not too early for advertisers to begin thinking about “AC”, After Corona. There is a danger waiting until there’s more visibility into the future. Business owners should at a minimum begin mapping out what their marketing strategy will look like when things settle down, even if it’s not put into action today. Doing so will speed up their own recovery when the smoke begins to clear.
Those who choose not to scenario plan will find themselves ill-prepared to effectively compete in the new “normal”, whatever that turns out to be. As Clayton Reid, CEO of travel marketing firm MMGY Global recently said, “Brands need to be prepared for this resurgence—they need to have plans ready to drive the demand. It will be an increasingly competitive environment where [marketers] will be scrambling to not only bring back their current customers but to steal market share.”
While no one can predict exactly what “AC” will look like, it is incumbent upon us to channel all of our professional expertise to assist advertisers out of the “trouble” and “calamitous” mode and back into a “growth” mode. Their future and ours depends upon this.
Greek philosopher, Plato, once said that, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, meaning that the driving force for most new thinking and ways of doing business is a need. Right now, our local advertisers “need” creative and effective ad solutions to grow their business. We should be this “driving force” servicing this “need”.
Bob McCurdy is now retired and can be reached at [email protected]