Small businesses need all the help they can get when it comes to creating successful and effective advertising messages. This is why many small business owners cringe when they hear the quote attributed to John Wannamaker that goes, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
You can almost hear the cries of agony from small business owners through your monitor….
“HALF of my advertising is going to be WASTED!?!?!
You mean I have to spend TWICE what I need to spend to get my advertising to work?”
Um… that may be overly optimistic. Seth Godin writes in his post 5 Common Cliches (done wrong):
Half my advertising works, I just don’t know which half. Actually, it’s closer to 1% of your advertising that works, at the most. Your billboard reaches 100,000 people and if you’re lucky, it gets you a hundred customers..
I deliver even worse news in my book and elsewhere on this blog… it’s possible that what IS working in your advertising messages may actually be HURTING your business instead of helping to build it.
I’m just overflowing with good news today, aren’t I?
It gets worse. Dominic Canterbury in his post “I know that half of my advertising budget is wasted, but I’m not sure which half” hits the nail right on the head when he writes:
I’m telling you this because as an independent business, you probably learned most of your marketing tricks by watching the big, successful companies. Very sensibly, you might have presumed that huge and expensive marketing departments headed by big-name gurus would actually know what they’re doing.
Turns out, though, the big boys really don’t know what they’re doing. No doubt some of it is working, but they don’t know how, when or why. And to make matters worse, it’s looking like the really big, flashy and expensive stuff is actually the least effective.
UGH! If you can’t learn from the big guys, then where can you catch a break? Well, there is a silver lining to this dark, dark advertising cloud… watch the successful SMALL businesses in your area and see what they’re doing.
The problem with this approach is you can’t see EVERYTHING they’re doing because you can’t be everywhere at once. However, there is one thing you can look for in successful marketing messages… usually they speak to the solving a problem for a tightly targeted customer. (Read my post The Power of Pain for more on this subject.)
Creating a tightly targeted “niche marketing” message is the first step in creating affordable AND successful small business advertising campaigns. This is my cue to shamelessly self promote my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results.