The Tough Choices on Promoting Your Company


By Jeff Burnstein, RIA President

Trade shows.  Magazine ads.  Online ads. Public Relations. Direct sales.  How do companies determine where to spend their promotional dollars?

At RIA, we know our members are wrestling with these issues more than ever today as each dollar becomes more precious. What we don’t know is how they make their choices.  How carefully do they measure the results of current or past efforts?  What measurement tools do they use?  What statistics would convince them to go in one direction vs. another?

RIA provides members with ways to utilize dollars or free opportunities in each one of these areas.  We sponsor shows like the International Robots, Vision & Motion Control Show (June 9-11 in Chicago), we print annual magazine directories, we have a wide variety of online advertising options, we offer many free PR opportunities, and we provide sales leads that members can follow-up with directly.

We want to help our members take advantge of the opportunities that are best for their own specific situation, but we struggle with how to help them reach the best decision.  For instance, a company that wants to position itself as an industry leader probably ought to have a presence at the industry’s leading trade show where their competitors are participating.  But, what do you do when the company says they are cancelling their participation in all trade shows?  Did they really measure past results, or are they just looking at cost reduction and not considering the bigger picture?

A company that wants to quickly expose its brand new product to a highly targeted audience of potential customers probably should be buying ads on the industry’s leading website.  But, how do you convince that company to do so if they say they are cutting all ad programs?

Cost-cutting is relatively easy, the hard part is strategically using resources to generate new business.  By the way, this is just as true for RIA as it is for our members.  If we drastically cut our own promotional efforts, what impact will that have on attracting attendees to our events, readers for our directory, traffic to our website, and ultimately, new members for our association?

I’m curious about how your company makes these decisons.  Is it across the board cutting, or cutting in some areas and greater investment in others?  What measures do you use to make your decisions?

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