Cut Back on Advertising

When an Instructor decides he is going to cut back on advertising to save money, they might as well stop their watch to save time.

Years ago, the Campbell Soup Company advertised it had twenty-one varieties of soup to choose from. They received complaints, yearly, there were not twenty-one soups to choose from in their selection; and yet they continued to advertise this wide selection.

Truth be told, they had twenty-one soups to choose from; they just couldn’t justify to pay for the shelf space in the grocery aisles. And yet they received hundreds of letters from customers complaining the different varieties were not available at their local stores. They were delighted to receive these letters because it proved customers were reading their ads!

Going Out of Business Sale

Just a few months ago, a car dealership advertised: “Going out of business sale – all cars are certified used and guaranteed”. Really?

We have tried every type of advertising media available for a business. We can’t tell you which method is going to be best for you because every firearm academy is different. But we will share some thoughts that may help you decide. According to Webster, advertising should:

  1. Give pubic notice…
  2. To inform…
  3. To make known through an agency of the press…

If you haven’t figured it out by now, you can’t open a firearm training business and then expect the public to be knocking down your door. It just doesn’t work that way. The public must know who you are, what you’re selling, and why they should buy from you. In short, you need to say: “We have it”, “You need it”, “Buy it from us”. The message must include a unique value-add to distinguish you from the competition. Without a unique value-add you’re just another instructor selling the same dozen eggs.


The answer to the question is how do we get the message across to potential students? What media will bring the best results? What image do you want to project? Are you the cheapest in town or are you the most expensive? Are you providing the best in training? There are many factors to consider:

  1. The size of your advertising budget: Based on cost, this will narrow down the type of media you might consider. Most instructors spend two to three percent of their gross for advertising. However, four to five percent is not unusual. Preparing an Advertising budget makes you think about your needs, what you want to accomplish, and commits you to spending the amount you budget.
  2. Location: What area do you draw from? A central location in a large city may justify a different strategy. Smaller cities can utilize a different approach.
  3. Brand or price advertising: Brand advertising means your brand is top-priority. It advertises your brand as “the” brand to buy into. Price advertising produces immediate results in registration. The goal is to produce as many students as possible in the least amount of time and at the lowest cost.
  4. Ad Agency verses Do-it-Yourself: Most new firearm agencies cannot afford an ad-agency. However, there is typically no charge to discuss your needs and goals. Many times, you’ll gain invaluable insights into how to promote your business during these conversations. Your input, what you hope to accomplish, who you want to reach may be better outsourced to these organizations. If you choose to go this direction, ask them to lay out a six to twelve-month projection. Ask for milestone expectations, insist if milestones are not reached you can cancel any agreements made with the company.

Do it Yourself

We know most instructors are on a do-it-yourself method of advertising. Unfortunately, these plans of attack also need planning. This means there must be a certain thought of planning, budgeting, spending. It requires a lot of thought rather than a willy-silly approach to advertising methods.

There’s an old saying: “An attorney who represents himself as a client is a fool”. This holds true for advertising. A business owner who thinks he’s doing the right thing, regardless of the results, is a fool. Your training certifications are marked “Firearm Instructor”, not “Advertising Consultant”.

Find a Trusted Partner

Now is the time to find a trusted partner in business. Your training as an instructor does not make you an advertising guru.

Think back to your highest level of education. If you have an MBA in business, you know, without a doubt, there’s an MBA in advertising degree; these are two different areas of concentration. Any MBA knows they can’t do “everything” well.

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