There is an ageless axiom in advertising that states when business is good it pays to advertise, but when business is bad, well then one must advertise!
There is certainly no arguing that spreading the word about your business, products, or services is necessary no matter how great a value or benefit your products and services have to offer.
Let’s say for example that you had the cure for the common cold. No doubt virtually everyone would be interested in your product. However if no one knows about your product or knows where to get it, then most likely no one will find it. In other words, the quality or the benefit of the product is not enough to make the product a success. The marketplace has to know what the product can do and, maybe more importantly, where to get it.
Simply that’s what advertising does. Today consumers are bombarded with messages every minute. The challenge is to make sure your potential customers remember your message.
For generations throughout most of the 19thand 20thcenturies, there was little need for small business owners to advertise much. Word of mouth, a solid reputation, and an established customer base usually were enough to maintain a sufficient revenue stream that generated some profit. Small business owners knew most of their customers well enough, personally or professionally, to maintain their business. Competition was present, but often not intense enough to cause too much concern. Usually there was room enough in the market for everyone to make a living.
Advertising – if it was done at all – was mostly done around special events or time of year. Small business owners did the traditional and necessary stuff. They relied on newspaper ads, radio, signs, and maybe television.
Some of the advertising was effective, but for the most part advertising was not necessary for survival. Of course there were exceptions then and there are exceptions now.
Certain businesses have always had to advertise regularly. These include vehicle dealerships and retail stores particularly. But for the most part, most small businesses – and particularly B2B (business-to-business) enterprises didn’t advertise much at all aside from the occasional ad in the trade journal. The latter was usually perceived as mandatory or obligatory. It may not have been much of a sales generator.
Things began to change in the decade of the 1990’s when the world began to shrink thanks mostly to great advances in electronics and communications. The Internet and the World Wide Web brought us all closer to things far, far away. The changes were gradual at first, but momentum has increased steadily and continues today. Frankly, there will be no stopping it any time soon.
Direct-to-consumer small businesses have responded well. The market expanded well beyond the neighborhood for them thanks to E-commerce. Shopping on line has become routine for millions of consumers. The smallest of businesses can ship its product to almost anywhere in the world.
The small B2B enterprises have not responded as well as their direct-to-consumer counterparts. Competition for the B2B enterprise has increased from outside the traditional market and from outside the country. It is a global economy, not just a neighborhood anymore. What was automatic is no longer automatic. Long established customers are courted from afar by new competitors. Established business contacts are no longer present. Buyers and decision-makers are far away, not down the street or across town as they once were. The company headquarters down in Dallas is calling the shots for the Wisconsin location. The contractor from Phoenix is looking for a masonry contractor in Ohio. That’s the way of B2B commerce today.
To survive in the new world economy, both the small direct-to-consumer business and the small B2B business must now do something that hasn’t been done very often or very well for generations. The small business owner must now advertise effectively. Advertising effectively is not just advertising more of the same, but advertising by using methods outside of, instead of, or in addition to the old traditional ways.
Patience is not a typical trait of entrepreneurs and small business owners. The lack of patience on their part is particularly true when it comes to advertising. Most entrepreneurs and small business owners have tried one form or another of the established forms of advertising including newspaper and journal print ads (display advertising), radio or television (media advertising) or direct marketing at least one time.
Consequently, there are many small business owners that will swear that advertising is a waste of money.
Advertising specialists and Marketing experts measure everything. Nothing is left to chance or luck. These specialists and experts know that repetition is essential to any effective advertising program. While it is possible to get lucky the first time, almost always advertising will take time and repetition to be effective.