The paradox of advertising

The paradox of advertising that we’ve all heard is this: “I cannot afford to advertise, but I cannot afford not to advertise.”

The answer to this is that it’s not about advertising, it’s about marketing. More specifically, it’s about marketing planning.

Advertising doesn’t have to be expensive. And, the correlation that the more is spent the more is gained does not always work if the message is not targeted correctly or if it is not engaging.

There are a few companies that have spent their entire year’s budget at once. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. There are other companies that follow the tortoise and the hare philosophy of slow and steady wins the race. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Start with the end in mind. That’s “vision.” In an article earlier this year, I mentioned a five-year plan. If that’s too difficult, start with a one-year plan or a six-month plan. Know where you want to be. Yogi Berra, one of my favorite modern day philosophers, said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Start with a vision, and allow a little flexibility.

Where you’re going is important. How you’re going to get there is as equally important. If you set a quota for yourself, the flow of customers has to come from somewhere. How will the message get to them?

Being in the marketing business, I don’t necessarily focus on one medium or one vehicle. I believe in a multimedia approach when possible. Sometimes budgets don’t allow for this at first. But, each medium and each vehicle have their strong points and their weak points. It’s important to know these when spreading the message.

“Every time I turn on the TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, or go online, I see my competition.” The first SUV I bought was small and green. I thought it was unique. Yet, after I bought it, I started seeing its twin everywhere. Because I had an interest in the vehicle, I started noticing what I hadn’t been seeing before. If I’m not paying attention, I can easily lose my car in a parking lot because there are so many cars similar to mine. Perhaps your competition does have a larger marketing budget than you do, but you’re also seeing the message because you are looking for it. With a smaller budget, it is important to work harder, target better and be more specific with the message. And, no one’s budget is limitless even though it may appear to be so.

I started this article with one cliché, and I’ll end with another. “Plan your work, then work your plan.” Remember Yogi Berra. A direction is needed. The path may change along the way. That’s OK. While the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, sometimes obstacles get in the way to make the straight line path impossible. Don’t lose focus of the vision. One vision may lead to another vision. That’s OK too. Then it’s time to plan again.

Failing to plan and then following the plan is “like déjà vu all over again.” Right, Yogi?

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