Lead Generation

Advertising fundamentals

written by Tim Berry of Palo Alto Software https://www.paloalto.com


Advertising is Communication

Advertising sends a message. Your advertising campaign, regardless of its scope or size, portrays your organization, your products and services, and your values. Each attribute will be tested with each new customer you acquire. This is one area of business where you do not want to take unnecessary risks. Your advertising should enhance your credibility as an organization and present you as the best solution to meet your customers’ needs.

You can see from our abbreviated list in the section entitled Advertising Options, that the number of advertising alternatives is enormous. To sort through it all, you need to constantly relate your advertising to your strategy. It’s not a matter of clever ads or large budgets. You’ll get much better results if you focus on the message you want to send and reaching the people you want to receive that message.

Take Proper Aim
Your advertising tactics should take your message to that target market. If your target is a small group, easily identifiable by factors like geography ordemographics, don’t spend the money to reach a large group. The Fortune 500 companies that reach millions of people use national television advertising, while local restaurants may use the telephone directory and newspapers.

Creativity comes into play here as you look for ways to spend just enough to reach just the right people. Testing with small, more trackable groups first may serve as a way to gain information and experience. Later you can use this broader base of knowledge to effectively implement advertising tactics that are tailored to your target market segment.

The Message

Every advertising campaign has to involve a message. Make sure you understand the message you want to send to your target customers. Read your positioning statement and review your strategy. Does your message match the strategy? Does it fit your situation analysis? For example:

  • The sign on the highway tells you there’s a fast food restaurant off the next exit. That’s a simple informational message.
  • The television advertisement shows a woman and a child in a car driving at night through a rainstorm on a deserted road. Whatever product being advertised, the message involves safety and peace of mind.
  • Advertising may contain simple informational messages, such as name, address, price list, or location.
  • The late John Crawford, former dean of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and an executive with Leo Burnett Advertising, used to tell his students that the best ad campaign ever created was “Colgate cleans your breath while it cleans your teeth.” He said that was a simple, easy-to-understand advertising message that sold products.

Food for Thought

For some thought-provoking Internet reading on the subject, Advertising Age magazine has a website section on the best advertising of the 20th century.

Tim Berry

about the author

Tim Berry

Founder and President of Palo Alto Software and a renowned planning expert. He is listed in the index of "Fire in the Valley", by Swaine and Freiberger, the history of the personal computer industry. Tim contributes regularly to the bplans blog, the Huffingtonpost.com as well as his own blog, Planning, Startups, Stories. His full biography is available at www.timberry.com. Follow Tim onGoogle +


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