“Advertising doesn’t work for me. Nothing ever has. Not newspapers, magazines, TV, radio… NOTHING.”

A big statement? Perhaps a big mistake?  This was the statement given to me by a specialty item retailer when discussing the advertising opportunity I had found for them. The advertising medium was a magazine, and included a bonus product feature and editorial review in addition to the advert. Gold! (In my eyes anyway!)

I’ll be honest, I was more than a little surprised by the reaction I received, as I felt the type of exposure, communications medium, target market and distribution was perfect for this business.  That’s right, I had done my marketing “4P” analysis, and the product, price, promotion and place was “perfect”!

So why on earth would this business reject the opportunity?    Did they have proof that their past investments had completely failed them?

  • Did they survey each person who entered the shop on whether they had ever seen an advertisement?
  • Had they interviewed clients who explicitly responded they only found the shop in a page 3 Google search or accidentally walking past?
  • Maybe they bugged random homes throughout the community to rule out any discussions or awareness from advertising?

I doubt it.  My only explanation is their personal perception comes from one or many negative past experiences.  Yes, sometimes advertising may feel like you are placing all of your chips on a roulette spin. But is advertising really a game of chance?

The problem lies when you assume that advertising is “magic”.  Suddenly customers will flow through your door from a simple 10 x 4 print ad in your local paper, and you had to do nothing. Have any businesses reported hearing a wave of sound echoing though their shop door from customers shouting “we saw you on TV last night, and just had to come!”?

Reduce your advertising investment risk through planning –  Good, careful informed planning – kinda like the planning you would undertake for an overseas holiday. Lets elaborate.

Step 1 – Identify what sort of holiday you want to experience:

Relaxation, luxury, family, romantic or thrill seeking destination? Or for advertising, what exactly do you want to achieve? Brand exposure, fast sales, business growth, promote a new product or service?

Step 2 – Choose a suitable destination and accommodation:

Different types of advertising is suitable for different types of businesses.   Would you trek the Kokoda trail when  travelling with 3 kids under 5? Never! You instead consider where is best for your needs, likes or personality. Apply this to your advertising – what medium speaks best to your target market?

Finding your perfect advertising medium is like finding your perfect holiday destination.  Great fit = Success and happiness!

Step 3 – Learn the language:

What is your message? Are you communicating in a manner that your potential customers understand?

Step 4 – Book a travel packages or a tour:

Add value to your investment – just like holiday discounts, extra nights for free or an upgrade; what else is the advertising sales team willing to offer? Can you get an editorial for no extra cost? A 2 for 1 deal? Endorsements? You never know until you ask!

Step 5 – Prepare important items like passports and maps:

Would you travel with no idea about how to get there? Without the appropriate tools to get to your final destination?  Make sure you prepared for your business to reach that final destination – A SALE!

Are you easy to find by customers? Is your welcome strategy ready? Is the customer experience terrific? Are your staff briefed and ready? The worst outcome is when your advertising does encourage customers to connect with your business, but the first impression is terrible. You wouldn’t return to a crappy hotel (regardless of how great it looked in the brochure)…. You get the idea?

Step 6 – Fill out the Feedback card:

At the end of your holiday stay, you will generally be asked to complete a satisfaction questionnaire. Are you asking your customers how they found you? If you are advertising a special item, ask each person who buys one how they know about it. Easy! Now you really can gather your proof of the success rate of your investment.

OR…..   Ask a travel agent:

Just like a great travel agent helps you to plan, see, experience and save, recommend deals you have not considered or were aware of,  a marketing professional can set up your advertising “travel guide” in the same way.  By creating a basic checklist of advertising guidelines to follow, you can independently and confidently assess the viability of the advertising opportunities presented to you. Imagine always communicating to the right audience in the right manner at the right time!

Finally, it’s important to remember there are some things that no amount of clever and considered advertising will fix:

  • Poor reputation or negative customer experiences – Is your business really operating in the best manner it can? Once you have fixed your problems then use advertising to promote your improvement. 
  • Non-competitive pricing – if your product is viewed by your market as not worth the financial investment, then no amount of advertising will help.
  • Fame and fortune – Advertising is not a magic wand that turns your business into a respected industry leader, sought after service, or famous land mark. That’s up to you, how you operate and what you offer. Advertising is the communication of the excellence you have created.

Tough Cookie Marketing works with small to medium service industry businesses to create clever and effective marketing and communications strategies.  For more information visit – www.toughcookiemarketing.com or contact Kathie Bolitho at kathie@toughcookiemarketing.com for a chat about how Tough Cookie Marketing can help you.

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