As far back as Ancient Egypt, advertising has served a critical purpose in the business world by enabling sellers to effectively compete with one another for the attention of buyers. Whether the goods and services your company provides are a necessity, a luxury or just a bit of whimsy, you can’t rely on a one-time announcement or word-of-mouth chatter to keep a steady stream of customers. A strong commitment to advertising is as much an external call to action as it is an internal reinforcement to your sales team.
The primary objective of advertising is to get the word out that you have something exciting to offer, says George Felton, author of “Advertising: Concept and Copy.” It can be anything from an upcoming entertainment event you’re promoting, a new product line you’re selling, a political campaign you’re managing, the expansion of an existing platform of services or officially hanging out a shingle for your first business. Whether your promotion takes the form of print ads, commercials, billboards or handbills, the content adheres to the rules of journalism by identifying who, what, when, where and why.
Advertising helps to raise your target demographic’s awareness of issues with which they may be unfamiliar as well as educate them on the related benefits of your product or service. A popular example of this is the health care industry. If, for instance, a consumer watches a television commercial in which someone describes aches and pains that are similar to those experienced by the viewer, the ad not only identifies a probable cause but suggests a potential remedy or treatment option to discuss with her doctor.
Advertising invites your target audience to evaluate how your product or service measures up against your competitors, says Gerard Tellis, author of “Effective Advertising: Understanding When, How, and Why Advertising Works.” Demonstrations of household cleaning products are a good example of this because they provide compelling visual evidence of which product does a faster and more effective job of tackling stubborn stains. Political ads are another example of how advertising serves up side-by-side comparisons of the candidates’ qualifications and voting records for readers and viewers to make informed choices at the polls.
An ongoing advertising campaign is essential in reminding your existing customers that you’re still around, say Kenneth Roman and Jane Maas, authors of “How to Advertise.” In a troubled economy where so many shops, restaurants and companies are going out of business, maintaining a strong presence through regular ads, fliers, postcards, events and a dynamic website is invaluable for long-term relationships. This also serves to attract new customers who may not have been in need of your products or services when you first opened but are now pleased to have their memories jogged.
When people ask your employees where they’re working, the latter will likely feel better about their jobs if the reaction to their reply is, “Wow! I’ve heard a lot of great things about that store” instead of “Nope, never heard of it” or “Oh, are they still around?” Investing in an advertising plan keeps your business an active part of the conversational vocabulary and community buzz. This, in turn, gives your workers a sense of pride and emotional ownership in an enterprise that’s generating positive feelings and name recognition.