Catching the Advertising Bug

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It’s easy to forget about advertising. Small business owners, like myself, tend to focus our marketing on relationships, conversations, and the incredible reach of the world-wide-web. However, at some point in your career you’ll wonder about advertising. You’ll want to promote a workshop, fill the seats of a special event, or compete with more established brands in your market. Advertising doesn’t have to be TV, Radio, or Print. It can involve any number of vehicles, and more importantly, the lessons you learn from advertising done well are invaluable when it comes to growing your business.

Here are a few advertising tips worth pondering.

Why Advertise?

I do it to keep my name out there?

I hear this a lot from people when they choose to invest in advertising. Building a brand is important, however, using advertising simply as a brand awareness tool is costly and woefully inefficient. Your advertising efforts will produce much better outcomes when you focus on a specific message, one that people can act on.

Have A Singular Message

When you choose to advertise, work on identifying a singular message and purpose. Rather than using it as an opportunity to promote all the wonderful things you do, consider holding onto one core component something that distinguishes you from your competitors. You might choose to promote a specific kind of treatment or program instead of communicating your overall experience working with depression, anxiety, trauma, and substance abuse treatment.

A general rule of good advertising is this: âThe more features you show the less you are seen.

Make it easy for people to remember you among all the message clutter they are bombarded with each and every day. People will remember The Anger Guy over the therapist who works with men on issues of depression, anger management, and relationships.

Great Customer Service is NOT a Distinguishing Advertising Factor

Most of us fall victim to this one at some point in time. We’re asked what makes us different, and we lean on the customer service angle. Great customer service is incredibly important to business success, but in the advertising world the vagueness of that message gets quickly diluted. We hear it too often to find it believable, and if it is not very, very, very clearly defined it has almost no impact.

A small independent bookstore is not going to compete with Barnes & Noble on a platform that focuses on creating a family atmosphere and offering customers individual attention. As a customer you’ll visit their store a few times for the atmosphere and to browse the bookshelves even when you can’t find the book you want. No problem, you’ll say. You’ll just stop on over to Barnes & Noble afterwards to get the book you really want because you know it’s there and you’ll get it for 30% off.

The local bookstore will win by identifying a niche market and offering an unbelievable array of books, speakers, and events in that specific area. If it’s something tangible and specific to a core audience it has a much better chance of sticking.

Find Your Audience

Stay with your core audience! If 85-90% of your business comes from middle age men, why dilute your message going after a completely different market? You’ll want to expand your reach by going after new clients/customers, however, make sure you’ve thoroughly penetrated the market you are already in before saying goodbye.

Advertisers say that 4% of your audience wants what you offer right now, another 4% needs more information from you before they buy, and the other 92% simply don’t care about your product or service. Focus your time, money, and efforts on the 8%. If you do a good job connecting with your core audience you will draw other people to you.

Communicate an Astonishing Offer that Promotes Action

When you begin to think about promoting your services, give yourself an opportunity to put everything on the table. Entertain ideas no one else would, the kind of ideas that you might easily dismiss with a laugh and a smile. The idea of an astonishing offer helps to provide a platform where possibility becomes reality.

I wrote a blog post a couple years ago about a woman who taught swimming lessons. She led with with an incredibly enticing offer, I will teach your child to swim in six sessions or less, OR I will continue to teach your child free of charge until he or she does. Swimming in six sessions or less is a great advertising message. It was a guarantee I remembered, experienced, and shared with others.

Anytime you create advertising copy, ask yourself what you are offering. Make sure it is specific, unique, and prompts someone to take action.



  1. Dan Franz  March 13, 2012

    Great message David!

    I know I tend to frown on advertising, because it can be so impersonal, sporadic, and not well targeted – but these tips really change that!


  2. David Diana  March 14, 2012

    Glad the tips helped Dan. They’re based on work we have been doing with clients and they have worked quite well!

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