Monday, November 30, 2015

New Advertising Techniques are Really the Original Ones

Time was when a business could advertise itself in a very limited number of channels and cover its target remarkably well.  I think of my great uncle who owned a pharmacy in my little home town in the '50s and '60s.  He could call up the local newspaper, and maybe even one of the few radio stations easily reachable in the area and do as well as anyone could.  He would only worry that he reached, say, 75% of his target, instead of 85% or more.

Today, advertising is an absolute nightmare.  Channels are astonishingly fragmented, especially once Internet advertising became a reality.  There are hundreds of radio and television channels.  It is very difficult to count every possible advertising vehicle available in any given area.  I'd dare say one has more advertising options at the South Pole now than were available in New York City even fifty years ago.  And it goes almost without saying that no single channel can deliver more than a few percentage points of a target market.

So what to do?  It definitely does not make sense to buy ad space to the desired cumulative target.  That would be ridiculously ineffective.  For many of us it is also too expensive to use targeting technology like geodemographic coding.  And it's incredibly difficult to understand the reach of each and every advertising channel.

My thinking is that for small business, at least, the new normal does not include traditional advertising.  No newspapers.  No magazines.  No radio.  No television.  The return on investment simply isn't there.  What I do see is that we need to exploit the potential of what used to be called network marketing.  Each of our network contacts in turn knows others who know others, and so on.  By creating strong, trusting referral relationships we in essence create an advertising-and-marketing channel of considerable power.  In various ways this is a return to principles established before there was widespread print and classical "advertising": long ago your products and services were promoted by the people who knew and trusted you.

It's more work, to be sure, than just buying an ad.  But the bond is stronger.

Bottom Line:  There is really nothing new, even in advertising.  Using very fundamental principles can work well for you.

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