B2B Advertising During a Supply Chain Crisis

PPC | Strategy

Supply chain issues have an effect on all lines of business and B2B is no exception. When it comes to advertising during a supply chain shortage, you may be inclined to pull back or stop advertising until you can secure products or parts. On the other hand, if your supply is not affected and your competitor’s supply is, you’re probably sitting back and waiting for the flood of customers. Let me offer a couple of alternatives to these two approaches.

Full Transparency in Your Advertising

We highly recommend full transparency with your potential and returning customers. This approach applies to more than just when you’re in a supply chain crisis, of course. If you don’t have inventory and lead times are longer than expected due to supply issues, don’t let your customer learn about longer lead times or backorders AFTER they place their order. If you’re afraid you’ll lose the order, it’s much more likely that you’ll still lose it by not being upfront. In fact, you may lose future sales because you weren’t honest. Instead, continue advertising but be honest in your ability to supply products. You can add language such as “Secure your spot in line” or “Reserve your product now” to encourage ordering while still being honest about availability. 

If you do have inventory and your competitors’ lead times are long, don’t assume customers know you have stock while your competitors don’t. Many of your competitors are likely not going to take the honest approach and the customers that place orders with them will just assume supply is on backorder across all suppliers. However, if you add callouts such as “In stock and ready to ship” or “No lead times, ready to ship” to your advertising, they don’t have to work so hard to know that you have inventory. 

Shift Budget, Offer Alternatives

If you don’t have inventory, it might make more sense to shift a portion of your budget to products not affected by supply chain delays. In lieu of reducing advertising budget completely and risk losing out on precious brand exposure, you can move the budget and even offer product alternatives in your ad text for people searching for out-of-stock products.

If you do have inventory and you want to capitalize on it, you might want to shift more budget to advertising that product as you have a clear competitive advantage. Just don’t set it and forget it. Keep on top of your inventory and suppliers to know when you need to shift your budget back to normal.

Offer Pre-orders With Lead Times if Possible

If your first reaction is to not allow backorder, you may still want to consider allowing customers to pre-order. Again, be fully transparent with them that they are placing a pre-order and offer them an estimated (realistic) lead time when you can. As all of your competitors are likely facing the same issues, they may appreciate the honesty and feel more secure in reserving a product despite longer wait times.

Offer to Let Them Know When a Product is Back in Stock

If your system cannot accommodate pre-orders or if you’re not comfortable taking an order on a product you’re not sure when you’ll be able to supply, consider a mailing list to let them know when it’s back in stock. Create a quick, simple form that records the product and requests their email address so you can send an email blast to them once you know when you’ll have inventory again. Keep in mind that this approach can backfire if you do not execute it promptly and appropriately. Follow through on your promise and let them know as soon as possible to ensure maximum return.  

Supply chain issues will come and go but the way you handle them will have the most impact on your business. Use this opportunity to gain trust with your customers through honest and timely messaging. If you need help with communicating through advertising, Top Floor has an experienced team of advertisers to guide you. Let us know how we can help. For more on this and similar topics, join our quarterly webinars.