Pay Me Tuesday for a Hamburger Next Year

I hate it when my marketing budget is running on empty. This usually happens every three months, at the end of a quarter of the business year or which ever comes first:) Funny thing is I always seem to receive lots of great offers for marketing and promotional vehicles, just as the funds are getting low. I know it’s not just me who is running into this problem. There are plenty of people out there vying for your marketing dollars and it’s hard to weed through all the offers for the best possible return on investment.

My favorite kind to turn down are the ones with the longest turnaround. Quite often event organizers will send me information demanding a commitment (and deposit) well in advance of the actual event. For example; “Come to our trade show in October 2003!

Registration deadline July 31st 2002? Hold on a minute. You’re asking me to commit marketing funds from a future budget (which I haven’t received yet) simply to help you with your advance costs. Ridiculous. This is called consumer “carry-the-load” and IMHO is a very unprofessional way to do business. I know some will say, hey, if you can’t forecast your budgets that far in advance, you shouldn’t be in business. Maybe, but let me throw it back at the organizers of such events. Perhaps you should have enough money in your budget to cover all the costs of the event (in case no one shows up) or don’t bother holding it in the first place. Carry the load scenarios are very much like buying on credit and we all know where this reality has taken our society. Basically you’re doing nothing more than helping the organizers cover their costs well in advance and allowing them to earn interest on the money you sent. Quite nice of you. You must not have needed that extra money yourself.

I much prefer doing business with people where the product will show up quickly or at least within a reasonable time period. I like to see what I’m getting for my money. I’m not adverse to a three month turnaround because of publishing deadlines nor even longer commitments, for TV or Radio production, but in these cases it’s usually a deposit upfront and the balance on publication. This seems fair, but voluntarily funding an event six months or a year from now, is simply tying up money I can use for other things.

It’s about time some of my fellow marketing professionals out there woke up and smelled the coffee. Not all small businesses have enough reserve funds to commit a years worth on future events and even if they did, why should they bother? What happens if something better comes along in the meantime and all your money is tied up? The reality is, the prudent business person will hold onto their money till the last possible moment or at least look for opportunities which provide a quick turnaround. It’s human-business nature and good common sense.