Is This One Question Worth $1,000,000 to You?

September 16, 2011 by  Filed under: Advertising 

Here’s a question that has the power to keep business owners, advertisers, and marketers awake at night. It’s a debate that will stand the test of time as consumers become more educated, and skeptical of marketing messages. With the constant bombardment of images, sounds, products, and services exploding the inner sanctum of consumer minds probably numbering in the millions of exposures everyday; why wouldn’t you have doubts that maybe your advertising message isn’t breaking through after all? You’re struggling with the question that is begging to be answered. That question is simply, why should I bother advertising in the first place?

Before we can make a stab at asking the pointed question, and join the debate constructively it’s necessary to define what advertising is. When I say advertising, what comes to your mind? I’m sure you have images of the goliaths of industry. Coke, Ford, Nike, and AT&T. Images that recall emotion and Ah-ha moments!

The definition of advertising is the public promotion of something such as a product, service, business, or event in order to attract or increase interest in it. This is the typical definition of advertising as a means to create awareness or get the word out there to the masses.

Now, read the definition of direct-response advertising, which is a form of advertising designed to elicit a direct response that is specific and quantifiable. The subtle difference of these definitions can be likened to how a salesperson calls to just introduce them selves versus initiating a call to action by asking to set an appointment.

Can you see the difference? The introduction is simply creating awareness and is easily dismissed. On the other hand, asking for an appointment elicits a response or call to action. I like direct response because an action is derived from it. What’s more important is that it’s specific and measurable. That means you can track your results and calculate a return on investment.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to advertising.The first school believes that advertising is mainly a function of creating brand awareness. The second school believes that advertising is a function of making sales and brand building is simply a byproduct not the main objective. Mostly, if you’re an advertiser your train of thought will fall with just one of these. Which are you? You can’t be a slave to two masters. Before you can make this decision get clear on what branding is.

The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other seller’s.” The brand definition is constantly evolving. It is the essence, personality, and identity of a product, company, or service. I’ll add that it’s the reputation and underlying message or benefit derived from using that company’s products or services.

Now, before we join the debate, take a few moments and ponder which master you’re going to serve. After you decide which one fits your business philosophy and resources you will be ready! Now, let’s try to answer the million dollar question of why advertise?

If you’re a business owner then you’d agree in the statement that we’re constantly selling and promoting our businesses, right? We engage in the activity internally when we’re hiring new employees, giving company events, interviewing with journalists, networking, and even while having family time. A sale is simple. Someone uses your product or service and compensates you for it.

The health of your business is in direct correlation to the number of sales it produces.I don’t need Webster’s Dictionary to know that sales are the lifeblood of any business. Alright, what does advertising have to do with sales? Think of advertising as the X factor. The X factor will provide a multiple to your sales results that is limited only by your resources.

For example, how many people can you talk with on a given day to make one or more sales? Unfortunately, there is a limit, a set limit to how many people you can speak with one-on-one. There’s one last word definition that needs to be introduced and it’s the power of leverage! By extension, any influence which is compounded or used to gain an advantage is leverage!

Get excited because advertising is away to leverage your time and resources to reach more people than you would otherwise be able to do! For instance, an effective ad could give you a return of investment ten times that gained from a sales force cold prospecting. If your goal is to grow your business then this type of leverage is invaluable. So, why advertise?

As challenging as this question is on the surface the answer is simple. If we are clear about what brand advertising is versus direct-response advertising. If we are clear on what a brand is and the idea of leverage. Really, the answer becomes quite clear. It’s not just about advertising blindly, trying to copy our competitors. As a business we want to communicate our message so that it leads to immediate sales.

That strong message in conjunction with strong sales will lead to a strong brand. We don’t advertise to build a brand but to create responses or actions that lead to sales. By leveraging our efforts we reach more people. More satisfied people or customers using our products and services build, as a by-product, a brand. Ultimately, we advertise to build our business while capturing better return on investments.

Eric T Dahl works with business owners and marketers across Oregon as a Sales Expert and Marketer. He regularly introduces his clients to cutting edge advertising mediums in order to help them showcase their businesses and get the most from their advertising. In addition, he sells information technology (IT) solutions to businesses of all sizes.

Visit to subscribe to his FREE weekly e-letter and download a copy of the powerful advertising vehicle called the Oregon Resource Guide. You will learn proven advertising to profit strategies

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