ICS Magazine

The Advertising Rule You Should Never Break

November 30, 2009

There's one rule you should never break, or it might well kill your advertising budget. It's no wonder so much advertising ends up as wasted dollars. Like Michael Gerber says, small business owners are so busy being busy, they don't take time to plan.



There's one rule you should never break, or it might well kill your advertising budget.

When you get a solicitation with an advertising opportunity, the rule is to JUST SAY NO! It doesn't matter if the deadline is tomorrow. It doesn't matter if the ad is buy-one-get-one-free. It doesn't even matter if the ad is half price. Politely tell them you appreciate the call and you will consider their advertising media in the future. But for now, you have to say no.

I'm recommending this action not only for phone solicitations, but each time a salesman contacts you.

So how will you buy advertising? Create your advertising message, plan your advertising strategy, and then make contact with the advertising media yourself. When you go about your advertising this way, you'll make a more profitable advertising choice. If you plan your advertising based on a sales call, you're letting someone else plan the advertising for your company.

Years ago I developed an advertising plan that resulted in the idea to test radio advertising. I selected a particular station because my research concluded this was the station with listeners in the demographic I wanted to reach.

I'll never forget the sales rep telling me, "Wow, I think this is the first time someone has made the initial contact with us to sign an advertising agreement."

It's no wonder so much advertising ends up as wasted dollars. Like Michael Gerber says, small business owners are so busy being busy, they don't take time to plan. If you want your advertising to be successful, you have to plan your advertising. Never allow a sales rep to plan your advertising for you.

Example #1: Joe is busy cleaning rugs when he gets a call from the local radio sales rep. She sets up a time to speak with Joe in person so he knows what radio has to offer his company. During their meeting, she sells Joe on all the great things radio can do, how many people radio can reach, and how much business Joe will get. And wouldn't you know the radio station is running a super great special on radio ads right now. Joe's business is kind of slow, so he can use all the help he can get. Since the radio rep is selling a solution to his problem “for only $XXX a month,” it sounds like a good plan. Joe doesn't have a better plan created, so he takes the deal.

Example #2: Mike is busy cleaning tile when he gets a call from the local radio rep. She sets up a time to speak with Mike just so he knows what radio has to offer. During the meeting she sells Mike on all the great things radio can do. Of course, the radio station is running a special almost too good to be true. But Mike's advertising is already planned out. He already knows exactly who he wants to advertise to and even the message he needs to advertise. It's all in his advertising plan. He thinks for a minute to decide if this radio station will fit in his plan. But then he stops himself. He politely tells the rep, "Thanks for the information. I'll indeed consider your radio station in the future. If radio comes out to be the best choice to advertise my message, I'll be calling you."

As you can imagine, the sales rep counters with many reasons why radio is the best choice. Mike understands it's NOT a question of whether or not radio is the best choice. It's a matter of following his advertising plan. To date, radio was NOT in his plan. Mike isn't going to let this advertising rep add radio to the plan for him. He'll need to decide at a later time if radio is the best media to get out his advertising message.

Now, I'm not saying radio is bad advertising. And I'm not saying advertising reps are bad. But I am warning you, never base your advertising decision on a sales call.

Just say no for now. You'll make a much wiser choice after you've had the chance to sit down and plan your advertising message. The sales rep will still want your business next year.