Advertising 101

Advertising has truly become a part of all of our lives as consumers, as business owners, as parents, as concerned citizens. We simply cannot escape from its presence no matter how hard we try. Considering how pervasive advertising is in our daily lives, it's no surprise that people have such extreme views about it.

Many home-based business owners want to steer clear of it altogether. They might dabble in marketing or use some sales strategies, but most don't want much to do with actual advertising. Unfortunately, this is a mistake on their part and it usually comes as a result of not understanding the purpose of advertising.

So what is the true reason for advertising? According to Michael Corbett, author of The 33 Ruthless Rules of Local Advertising, you should advertise "to create an equity position in a target market and to ...motivate a sufficient number of consumers..." In simple language, you advertise so that people will know you exist and will keep you in business. What's so evil about that?

Absolutely nothing! Here are a few very good reasons why you need to start advertising today:

1. Potential customers are constantly shopping

The truth is that most people are always looking for ways to spend their money. They don't always realize it, but they are. That's why banner ads, commercials, and billboards work even though they are being viewed miles away from the business. If you don't advertise, you're missing out on a chance to tap into that human desire.

2. Potential customers may forget you

While the desire for shopping may be permanent, a consumer's memory is not. Even if they have had a tremendous experience with your business, even if they've recommended you to their friends and family, even if you were the only company they ever thought of doing business with, after awhile they would forget you or forget how to get in touch with you.

3. Potential customers don't always make buying decisions immediately

Another tried and true rule about consumers is that they don't always decide to buy as soon as they see an ad. For example, if you see a commercial for a fast food restaurant right after Thanksgiving dinner, you're not going to run right out to the drive thru after seeing the commercial. However, the next time you're hungry, you might remember that commercial and choose to stop in then. So the idea of advertising is to plant an image in consumers minds so that when they need your product, your business comes to their minds.

4. Customers rely on name recognition to guide their consumer choices most of the time

Why do people still buy name brand products over generics even when the price difference is significant and the quality of the products is equitable? Because of name recognition! Consumers respond to names that are familiar whether they are buying a new car, a computer, a lawyer, or ketchup. If you want to succeed, you need to be sure that your targeted audience will know your name when they hear it and will think of your name when they need your product. Advertising can make that happen.

On the other hand, many business owners see advertising as a quick fix. If business gets a little slow, a newspaper ad or a direct mail piece will fix everything in a jiffy. That's not the case either. Let me give you a few reasons why.

1. Advertising works on a six month cycle

Many times when people think their advertising hasn't worked, it's because they haven't waited long enough to see results. Generally, the advertising you do today won't fully pay off for another three to six months. For that reason, if you want to ensure a consistent stream of customers, you need to continue to advertise all the time. Advertising only when business is slow simply won't save your business because by the time you start seeing results, it may be too late.

2. Your problems are related to another step in the process

Another reason advertising can't cure everything is that simply attracting customers is only one step of the process. Once you lure them in, you need to have the content or the customer service to convince potential buyers to take that next step. If any step in the process is lacking, then no amount of advertising is going to help.

3. You are neglecting your current customers and their potential

Don't make the mistake of focusing all of your efforts on finding new customers when your best source of additional revenue is being neglected. Past customers are more likely to become repeat customers, plus they don't require the additional expenses of marketing and advertising.

As you can see, the truth about advertising is that it can be a powerful force for your success if handled correctly. Too many people see it as an evil force or as a business miracle when the reality is somewhere in between.

Vishal P. Rao is the owner of: http://www.work-at-home-forum.com/ An online community of people who work at home.

In The News:

The one about disruptive advertising  The Times of India Blog
What Digital Advertising Gets Wrong  Harvard Business Review

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