Tips for Advertising When Your Inventory Isn’t Here
Have you walked into a store or tried to order a product online lately, only to see that it is out of stock or backordered? Perhaps you’ve encountered a message about shipping delays. If so, you are in good company. Increasingly, inventory shortfalls are plaguing many businesses.
The knee-jerk reaction for many during times of inventory constraint is to stop advertising. If you don’t have the inventory, why promote it? However, that is flawed reasoning. You must continue advertising, though you need to change your strategy.
The Benefit of Advertising Consistently
Discontinuing your ad campaigns during times of short inventory risks placing your brand out of sight and out of mind. If consumers don’t hear from you or about your brand, they may forget about you altogether. Consistent advertising keeps customers aware of your brand. Even if you’re not overtly trying to make a sale, it keeps your brand top of mind.
Let’s say you sell running shoes, but, unfortunately, your suppliers are experiencing supply chain issues. At some point, you will have your problems resolved, or you’ll find a new supplier. If you stop advertising, you’ll have to start building back your customer base when you replenish your inventory. Would you rather save a few dollars on advertising, only to have your customers start relying on another store? Or would you like to keep in touch so they will continue to check with you about their favorite products or explore your other offerings?
Advertising is not just a financial outlay, it is an investment in your business continuity. You are betting that you can attract and maintain a loyal customer base. Consistent advertising means promoting your brand throughout the year, even during periods of inventory shortfall. Advertising consistently also means maintaining a cohesive, recognizable style.
Focus Your Messaging on Brand Awareness
When you are flush with inventory, you focus your efforts on moving it. Your calls to action target converting customers. During times of inventory shortfalls, you need to shift your focus. Instead of encouraging customers to buy the stock you don’t have, your messages should focus on brand awareness.
Businesses should always foster customer relationships, and that is never more important than when you can’t fulfill their requests. Focusing on your client relationships means they stay informed about why you can’t give them what they want right now. Acknowledging their frustration and inconvenience also keeps communication open for them to remain loyal to your brand.
Radio is a fantastic medium for brand awareness campaigns. Consider how businesses communicate after natural disasters. They often use radio to let the audience know about their reopening efforts, what they are doing in the interim when they can service customers again, or how to help their community. Reaching audiences with in-depth information keeps your business top of mind and relevant, even when you can’t supply the goods or services your customers want.
Advertise With Less Frequency
A variety of factors can impact your inventory. Cargo ships stuck waiting for a port, labor shortages, a pandemic, fires or natural disasters anywhere along the supply chain, and more. Sometimes you can quickly pivot with alternative suppliers, and other times, you are stuck with the figurative hand you have been dealt. That’s where managing traffic and expectations becomes vital.
While it is a bad idea to stop advertising altogether, it makes sense to slow down how often your messages are delivered. You can decrease the frequency of messages to buy your goods or services while still carrying out a brand awareness campaign. In essence, this lets you manage how often the customer thinks of your brand. If you can keep your business in their awareness while slowing how often they think of you for a purchase, you can more easily manage stock shortages.
You Can’t Sell What You Don’t Have, But You Also Can’t Let Your Customers Forget About You
It doesn’t make much sense to run promotions on items you don’t have in stock. It isn’t a wise strategy to heavily advertise a product you can’t get, much less sell and ship to the customer. That strategy will only frustrate your customers. However, you must continue advertising, just with a different message.
Brand awareness campaigns keep you afloat during periods of inventory shortfall. Use empathy and consideration when your inventory is at a critical low point. Keep your customers in the loop about what is happening, how you’re resolving it, and acknowledge their inconvenience. If you don’t have other inventory to offer, talk to your customers about what is important.
Instead of asking them to buy your running shoes or gear, ask them to remain active for their physical and mental health. Rather than focus on what your business can’t do, inform them about what else you do, such as your ecological endeavors or philanthropic efforts. Remind your customers about your mission statement, product quality, customer service, green initiatives, additional perks, or other reasons they should wait for you to have their favorite items back in stock.
There are many ways to navigate through turbulent times successfully. However, it isn’t something you can do without careful planning. It takes strategy, experience, and long-term vision. Working with a media partner can help you manage by leveraging their expertise.
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