Why Do You Advertise, Anyway?


I get this question a lot.  I feel there is only one answer, at least for retail businesses.  It is not to get your name out. It is not to brand.  It is not to get “Likes”.   It is not to let people know won awards, have the best parking, have friendly, knowledgeable staff or have been in business for 25 years.  It is not to build your image.  It is to sell more stuff.  Period.

Before you start emailing me why I am wrong, hear me out.  Of course, advertising can help you build your image and build your brand.  But, the reason you want to do these things is…..to sell more stuff. There is no other reason.

Listen, advertising is really just about telling people why they should buy your stuff, or let you service their widget, and why you can do it better than the next guy.  Advertising is to tell your story, leading to a sale.

So, what is your story?  What makes you different than your competitors?  I ask most new clients why I would ever shop there…and they can say that it is because they have the lowest prices, best service, or best quality. Now tell me! It never ceases to amaze me how many can’t really answer that question.  In most cases, it is because they really are not much different than their competitors – at least on the surface.  Often they go into big spiels about how they really do have better service and peel off a bunch of reasons, or that their products are hugely superior to their competitors.  Got news for you….if I asked the same questions to your competitors, they would give me the exact same answers.  I have always taken the approach that on balance, most of my competitors are pretty good at what they do.  They do things right most of the time.  So, knowing that, how do I make myself better so I am always one step ahead of them, and I challenge my clients to do the same thing?

So, what really makes you different?  What is your unique story?  What can or will you do that your competitors won’t.  What is the one thing you want to be known for….with every customer, with every sale?  Focus on these things and you will sell more – thanks to your advertising.

Just Because You Can……



“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”.  I used  these words many times over the years with myself, my son and my employees.  I had a wonderful sense of validity when Jeff Goldblum, playing Dr. Ian Malcolm in the original Jurassic Park movie, uttered “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

I find myself thinking about these words more and more lately.

In business, these words stand for integrity and doing the right thing.  However, as I read about connected cars being hacked and taken over as they speed down a highway, utter nonsense being passed off as truth on social media, and more and more technology designed to ensure we don’t have to leave the couch at all, I wonder where all this is headed.  I feel this impending doom lurking just beyond the horizon.

Much of this doom is rooted in social media.  On the surface, it seems like a wonderful way to stay in touch, re-connect and share your life with those with whom you want to.   If that is all it was, it would be wonderful.  However, it seems that it has exploded, much like how the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, into an uncontrollable catastrophe.  We humans seem to have a knack for taking a great thing and turning into a problem. Even things like autonomous cars and UAV’s have me wondering how wise we really are. As a pilot, the latter is very troublesome as I ponder the prospect of delivery drones flying around with no one looking out of a window.

Consider this – a person posted a lost child post on social media.  In time, someone recognized the child and reported where they believed the child was.  Normally, this would be wonderful news.  However, in reality, the child was in a protection program along with his mother from the child’s abusive father.  Who posted the lost child post?  You guessed it, the father.  I read this story the other day.  Whether true or not, it takes little imagination to realize it could be.  Add to this scenario all the cyber-bulling, false accusations, public-shaming and videos that people take of unknowing innocent people, and suddenly social media becomes much darker than it is bright.  Businesses can be brought down by reckless use of social media.  Even terrorism has adopted social media as a weapon of choice.  And sadly, we seem to have an insatiable appetite for it.

Where is this all going?  As we become more connected, we seem to be more disconnected with each other.  We are vulnerable in ways we have never imagined.  We seem to be losing our ability to truly socialize, be together and work together through what is ironically called social media – where one irresponsible post, tweet, or share could ruin your business, your life, or that of another, in the blink of an eye.