As a former marketing manager for major consumer brands who, 2 years ago became a solopreneur consultant, I can safely and honestly say I hate advertising. For small fish like me, it just doesn’t work and I’m happy to tell you why. If you don’t fit the service based small business description, you can stop reading here but if you’re just like me and my clients, then you can thank your lucky stars for this article. I am going to save you lots and lots of money right now.
Why Ads Don’t Work
Of course I’m not talking about all ads and I’m not talking about for every business model. If they didn’t ever work, they wouldn’t exist. Ads don’t work for small service based businesses who depend on selling an expertise which garners a deep level of trust. For example, when biz owner sisters Jenny and Janice came to me after having spent $5K on a local community paper with 0 returns, they were literally in despair. They were at the end of their marketing budget for the WHOLE year and hadn’t a single client to show for having blown their entire wad on this one vehicle. If you sell your brain power in any way, think twice about spending money on a mass machine that isn’t laser niched, that doesn’t give you the opportunity to showcase your expertise or personality.
When Does It Make Sense
I’m a huge proponent of getting in front of your ideal clients as a mass audience to intercept them to get leads. I would rather you spend your money at targeted trade shows, speaking in front of your target leads and networking with them frequently instead of spending ad dollars. However, the only time advertising for small businesses makes sense to me is if there are 3 critical elements present:
1. Close to 100% of the consumers of the ad are your ideal client targets. If the readers are not your ideal target clients, you might as well just put the money you’re spending down the garbage disposal grinder.
2. You talk about your clients’ pain and use stats about why it’s such a huge problem for everyone and how you can help
3. You tell your ‘why’, a story that is deeply personal and meaningful about why you do what you do.
Adding a compelling visual of human emotion and a catchy title doesn’t hurt either.
So now that you’re on board with why you need to be positioning yourself as an expert by blogging, speaking and meeting other humans one handshake at a time, you no longer ever need to spend a single dime hoping a mere ad will do the heavy lifting for you.