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Why advertising doesn't work (or does it?)

I get told time and time again by small business owners that advertising doesn’t work. The thing is, advertising absolutely does work. If it didn’t, then companies would not spend hundred of thousands to millions on advertising their products and services.

And herein lies the lesson.

Advertising works when you are prepared to invest enough to make it work. That means that you need to have invested your time and effort in making sure that you have a well researched clear message to communicate to a well researched target market, and you need to keep pushing that ad out there.

If you watch the ads on TV, you’ll see that they don’t just appear once, they appear lots of times across terrestrial and satellite channels. (And they tend to be backed up by other marketing activities too).

The reason they do this is that advertising is at the “cold” end of marketing methods (i.e. to people you don’t know and have no relationship with). The small business world tends to work far better at the “warm” end of marketing: that’s all the personal stuff: for example, networking, personal referrals, your email list.

With advertising, you have to work harder to get your potential customers to sit up and take notice. Your message needs to be in front of them at least seven times before they act on it.

The fact is, the vast majority of small business owners just don’t do that. You don’t need a marketing budget of millions, but you do need a budget to make this work. So, whether your budget is £100 a month or £1000 a month, you need to commit to it for a few months.

But before you do any of it, you MUST research your target market, and research your advert with them. (Very easy to do – just get a group of your customers together and ask them what they think!). This is what the “˜corporates’ do (and this particular type of research is called a focus group): in all my years of handling ad campaigns, I didn’t see one that went out without being well researched – and tweaked – first.

The thing is, as a small business owner, it’s quick, easy and free to do research, so there’s no reason why you can’t employ the same process as the corporates. What I would strongly suggest though is that you pay a professional graphic designer AND a copywriter (check that they design ads, because not all do) to design and write the advert for you first (it’ll pay dividends!).

But whether you do the design & copywriting yourself or pay a professional to do it, then test, test and test your ads?but that’s a whole other article!

By the way – one of the most successful ad campaigns that I worked on was for Brita Water Filters, and through their first TV ad (you may remember the young couple in an upmarket apartment discussing their tea) we achieved a 1,000% increase in sales. I can remember that we had to double check the figures, and the client nearly fell over!

The thing is though, I know of a small business owner who achieves astronomical results too with his advertising (committed budget, well researched target market, well placed and researched ad?), so these kind of results are not limited to the corporates.

So, advertising is a great marketing tool if used properly. It’s just down to you to decide to be bold and make the commitment to it.

Have a great week,

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