I’ve said before that there are really only two marketing problems:
- You need more customers
- You need your current customers to buy more
Similarly, there are only two advertising problems
- Awareness problem
- Perception problem
The purpose of all advertising strategies, tactics, and executions is ultimately to solve one or both of those two problems. So let’s go into them a bit.
Awareness Problem: Not enough of your target audience(s) know about you.
There’s a few ways you can address this problem. The first is the easiest…
Buy a bunch of advertising. Paid advertising is by far the most efficient and simplest way of getting more people to be aware of your company. Costs are basically based on how many eyeballs or ears will be exposed to your ad (pay-per-click is an exception). The more you spend, the more likely people will be aware of you.
However, that’s usually not the answer any business owner wants to hear. So an alternative is to be more selective in your media buying. Select the media vehicles that only your target is likely to use. Again, you’re usually paying for eyeballs and ears.
Yet another way is to create ads that break through the clutter. Make some noise. Communicate a message that’s provocative. Do something that people will take notice. Don’t be safe.
Perception Problem: Your target knows you, but thinks about you in a different way than you’d like.
The first step in dealing with this problem is to identify what you want people to think about your brand and your products. It’s amazing how many small businesses don’t really think about this in depth. Many focus too much on what they think of their product and not enough on what their buyers are likely to think about it.
The next step is simple. Create advertising that will get people to think of your product the way you want them to…
Ok, it’s not so simple. Perceptions take a long time and a lot of commitment to change. This is why it’s usually better to make sure you’re saying the right thing from the very beginning when you’re trying to get awareness.
But it’s not impossible. Just look at Old Spice, Target, and even Apple. At one time, all of them were perceived as much less than the popularity they experience today. And they’ve successfully transformed themselves.
Now, of course, people are going to say, “what about social media and PR?” Of course, they can help solve these two problems as well. But I would be hard pressed to say that they’re “easier” than advertising. In fact, they’re usually much harder because you have to actually be newsworthy and engaging.
No matter what tactics you use, it takes time, resources, and a commitment to solve these problems.
I wish the solutions were easy. But if they were, there would be no need for advertising and other marketing professionals. And that’s why we’re here.