ADVERTISING 2011…Are you overwhelmed yet?

Major corporations spend more on marketing research in a day than most small businesses spend in a year on advertising. This piece on advertising is for small business owners who make advertising decisions themselves or who may have a small marketing department on staff.

If you were to ask most business owners what has changed about advertising in the last twenty years, most would say the internet. I disagree. I would say the biggest change in advertising in the last twenty years is “CHOICE”.

Small business advertisements have been found from 4000 BC in the form of art on rocks. The early versions of billboards were in the form of pictures on signs since the masses couldn’t read. But let’s fast forward to around 1836 when printed products began to carry advertisements. There was usually one choice in most communities. Fast forward again to around 1906 and there were two main choices, print and radio. Roll up to the early 1950’s and television gave us three main choices. So from about 1836 to the early 1990’s, three primary media choices were on the table for over 150 years.

1990’s KABOOM!! Internet marketing is born with new web sites appearing by the minute. Along with internet marketing, because of the computer, there was another KABOOM! The computer gave rise to niche publications, company newsletters, and marketing companies in basements, consulting experts on every corner and on and on.

Now, internet marketing combined with the rainbow of traditional advertising outlets has created an overwhelming array of choices- newspapers, banner ads on millions of web sites, a plethora of radio formats, direct mail, your personal website, yellow pages, inserts, email blasts, flyers, blogs, mobile marketing, magazines, social media which brings us to Facebook, Twitter and the beat goes on…and on. Don’t forget skywriting and of course billboards, now with words not just pictures.

And then there are salespeople, call to action ads, account executives, targeted marketing, business consultants, image advertising, ad executives, demographic studies, search engine optimization and branding. And where would you be without thinking “outside the box” as you ride the cutting edge?

I’m waiting for the chip implant that senses when our body is hungry. A hologram appears with a merchant telling me about their special of the day complete with coupons floating in the air!

WOW! I’m exhausted just thinking about all this! And all you wanted to do was run an ad telling your customers that you had a sale on socks. It’s become a little more complicated than hanging a sign outside your tavern with a boar’s head on the sign telling travelers that you serve food.

Yes, it’s all about choices. And internet marketing is just another choice like print, radio and television. The truth is that all of the advertising choices discussed in today’s blog work. The question is, which ones work best for your business? There is no magic answer but, in my next blog entry, I’ll share some ideas that will help you simplify the choices.

I will close with an interesting sidebar to one of the biggest news stories in recent months. It involves advertising and some miners. You’ve most likely heard about the incident in Chile involving 33 trapped miners. The whole world watched as these brave souls were pulled up one by one from their death trap. And what were they wearing? Oakley sunglasses! When asked for help to protect the miner’s eyes as they rose from the depths, Oakley sent their sunglasses for every miner. I will estimate, even at retail, their advertising investment was probably less than $7,000. The value of their exposure to the world – priceless.

Many businesses from different parts of the world helped save those miners and I would like to think that they did this because they are human first and business people second. The exposure for their products was just a side benefit. But still, this was a noble and smart thing to do. It gives us all hope to see businesses from around the world come together to save strangers in their time of need. One thing is for sure. Oakley made the right choice.

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