Friday, June 25, 2010

Is Your Marketing And Advertising An Expense Or An Investment?

Recently I was comparing two clients. Both are multiple outlet retailers, both are in similar markets, and both had initially pursued comparable marketing plans. The difference was, one (we'll call Company A) was thriving and one (Company B) was struggling and will likely have to make drastic changes, like closing stores, cutting personnel and even bankruptcy, in the near future.

As I considered their situations and wondered what might have been done differently, I realized the most significant difference was their outlooks. Company A approached advertising as an investment in their company, knowing that it can ultimately provide a return. Company B, however, always looked at advertising and marketing as an expense, or a necessary evil.

While they both started out in similar fashion, Company A set up a solid marketing plan and stuck to it in good times and bad, knowing the money they spent each month would likely be recouped through increased sales and visibility. Company B also set up a marketing plan and stuck to it…for awhile. However, when slower times came along, Company B started cutting expenses and their advertising budget was the first to go under the knife. The problem is, now that their business is struggling even further, Company B doesn't have the money to put towards the "expense" of advertising, and they'll likely be unable to generate new business to increase their sales.

Now, consider your advertising and marketing outlook. Is your advertising budget money you're putting back into your business to help it grow even more? Or, do you see your advertising as a cost of doing business that could be better spent elsewhere? While there's no set formula for how one feels about advertising, if you want to change your business fortunes, you might have to change your outlook.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Forget "Where's The Beef?" Where's The Benefit?

Regular readers of this space (and God bless all of you who aren't actually related to me!) know that I am an avid recreational bicyclist. During my bike rides, I often find my mind wandering as I try to pass the miles and forget about the wind and/or the heat. While I still concentrate on the road, my thoughts often turn to business, clients, and projects of days, and even years, gone by. And tonight, I drudged up an issue I had with a client several years ago that is still relevant today.

This particular client sold high end, over-the-counter remedy creams targeted primarily for diabetics. All was well until the day came to create a new retail brochure for this client's foot cream. I wrote my typically non-poetic copy that touted the benefit of the product, while reinforcing that with the science and company behind it. One problem: this client was a bit of a control freak who insisted that copy about the company be front and center with actual product copy secondary. (Did I mention this was a retail brochure for a specific product?)

I could have buckled under and given in, but I refused to stand by and be party to a very bad move. While I fully understand the benefit of selling yourself or your company in order to sell your product, in this era of short attention spans, selling yourself before you sell the product just isn't going sell product, especially in print. I argued till I was blue in the face but ultimately, the client refused to accept the theory that the solution should come first, and the company that offers the benefit second. In the end, said client and I parted ways very soon after (me with absolutely no regrets, but that's a blog for another day).

Now consider your advertising and marketing message. Are you advertising the solution your company's goods or services can provide your customers or just advertising your company? If your answer was the latter, then maybe it's time to reassess your advertising message. Just as Wendy's made a huge impact asking Where's The Beef?, make sure your message puts the solution your service or product can offer consumers at the forefront, so that your ad doesn't leave them asking, "Where's the benefit?"