They mean well. But they’re wrong. Your sparkling new business is going to need to attract sparkling new customers in order to survive. Advertising is a key to doing this.
But frantically waving their ad-blocker apps at you, your friends will tell you lots of reasons why you shouldn’t advertise. Here are the top five. (And why they’re all a load of man-cow droppings.)
Advertising doesn’t work
Companies around the world are spending approximately $600 billion on advertising. In 2015 alone. Put simply, that kind of money wouldn’t get spent if companies didn’t expect much larger sums to come back in return.
We need to make a distinction, straightaway: it’s bad advertising that doesn’t work.
Advertising should be an essential part of your business plan.
Especially for a new company. It’s a great way to build awareness in new customers. It gives them a way to learn about your product and how it will meet their needs and delight them.
Advertising gives customers information on which they can base their buying decisions. They might not be reaching for their wallet straight away (although that does happen). It will help build a familiarity. So that when it is time for them to reach for the cash, it’s you they’re thinking of.
Word of mouth is better
Not strictly a lie. Because word of mouth is the best type of promotion you can get. But it’s also the hardest to achieve, especially when you’re starting out, or even with a brand new product. There simply aren’t enough mouths to spread all the good will.
Advertising reaches more people, quicker. It will help you towards this vital step.
Sure, a 30 second spot on TV during the EUFA Champion’s League is going to be beyond you. But that’s only one type of advertising. There are as many types of ad as there are types of media.
Starting small could mean a Facebook or Google Adwords campaign. Or perhaps promotion through a blog that your customers read. Even print advertising isn’t necessarily expensive – you might be able to use advertising as leverage to get some editorial content, too.
(Tip: I used to work for a consumer magazine. Editors are quite accommodating if they know you’re willing to support the magazine with cash. The same can be true of bloggers. It doesn’t hurt to ask.)
The important thing is, make sure wherever you decide to advertise is where your customers hang out. For instance, don’t spend precious funds to advertise your great soy burgers in Meat-Eaters Monthly.
It’s advertising in the wrong place that’s really expensive.
Advertising is lying to people
Don’t lie to people. It’s not nice. And it’s illegal. In the UK advertising is governed by the Advertising Standards Agency (https://www.asa.org.uk/). Other countries will have similar bodies.
Their whole purpose is to ensure that consumers aren’t hoodwinked.
Advertising is well regulated, which means there are lots of rules.
To keep you safe, two great rules of thumb are:
- don’t make claims you can’t prove (We’ll make you 3 inches taller! 100% guaranteed)
- don’t offer things that you can’t provide (Free flask of water from the fountain of youth with every order!)
If you use your advertising to discuss real benefits that real people will experience while using your product, then you will be able to get real customers. And it’s these people who are happy to provide that ever so precious 'word of mouth' for you.
There’s no way to know if it works
If you decide to run advertising in lots of different places, then it is important to know where the sales are coming from.
You can do this lots of ways: use discount codes, create different landing pages, add special codes on order forms, ask people.
But how do you know your advertising is working?
Is that the sound of a cash register I hear?