Should you advertise?

intrusive advertising

You might expect to get a resounding “yes” to the question: “Should you advertise” from someone who has earned upwards of 90 per cent of my income for the past three decades — from advertising sales.

However, the other side of the coin is our business has spent almost no money on conventional paid advertising — and there are strong arguments against pouring money into advertising, unless you know what you are doing and truly understand your objectives.

Advertising sales businesses like to argue that they sell “brand awareness”. This is a cheap way of getting around the word: Results — that is, individuals and companies actually buying anything because of your advertising.

“Brand awareness” after all can be a two-edged sword. You can have negative, as well as positive awareness; like the names of organizations you know you will never do business with either because their values differ from you, they have a poor reputation, or they simply are selling what do not need or want to purchase.

There are of course some circumstances where advertising makes sense for virtually every business, and I’ll outline them below:

When you can test, test and test some more, and through the process determine an effective linkage between your advertising and sales.

Generally, this process takes plenty of time and trial and effort, an is better for larger frequency transactions. Certainly some residential specialist contractors have been able to build worthy client flow through a structured and ongoing advertising campaign. However, for most ICI construction businesses, the advertising falls into the “brand awareness” category or trap, depending on your perspective.

When you are purchasing editorial or “native” advertising, in media relevant to your audience, and which you can recycle in other media.

Editorial(ized) advertising is almost always more effective than conventional ads. While there is much outcry about “fake news”, the fact is most publications and online services will sell advertising packaged subtly within a news-style framework. It is relatively inexpensive for its value. (And it reflects a significant part of our own advertising sales.)

There’s a valid reason such as a specific offer or objective, relationship or in rarer situations, because you really want basic brand awareness.

The explanations vary. A major client encourages you to advertise in a profile supporting their business. You shouldn’t buy the ad in this situation because of any fear of offending your client by not spending the money, but because you want to be associated with the client’s identity/success. You might have a recruitment challenge, or the opportunity to sell a specific property or offer. And, in some cases, where you are “rebranding” as part of a larger strategy, the advertising can help facilitate the market/message changes you are seeking. (This is generally something only larger companies with very large overall budgets should do, however.)

Please comment or email me at if you would like to discuss these ideas some more.

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