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Running Your Own Business - Part 3

 article about running your own business

This article belongs to Running Your Own Business column.


This segment is about advertising. Before launching into an ad program that has been put together by ad salespeople, you have to deal with a few very important issues. The most important is realizing what business you are in.

Sounds simple doesn't it? "We make widgets and sell them." Sorry, wrong answer. Well, not exactly the wrong answer, just a really incomplete answer. If you make widgets and sell them, that's what you do. But if you ask "What business am I in?" then you have to look at your company, its products and its services, from the customer standpoint.

I'll give you a true-to-life example. I worked for the Yamaha Music Company and my answer to the "what business are you in?" question when I first started was, "We make and sell musical instruments and we teach music." True. We did. But the business we were in was the business of providing people with a creative outlet, a feeling of accomplishment, self entertainment, and, in some cases, a whole new career.

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Many more ad campaigns would be successful if this question was answered, before the creative approach was decided, before the artwork was done, before the copy was written, before the media was booked.
We weren't selling instruments or lessons; we were selling music and the appreciation and understanding of it. Instead of saying "Our Pianos are better than Their Pianos.", we said to the public, "Look at these happy people. They're happy because they are making music."

The Yamaha management had realized that the instruments we manufactures and sold were simply tool for the business we were actually in. The sales were evidence of the accuracy of the philosophy.

So, first you answer the question, "What business are you in?" After you've done that and before you rush to book that ad campaign, there is another question you have to ask yourself. Many more ad campaigns would be successful if this question was answered, before the creative approach was decided, before the artwork was done, before the copy was written, before the media was booked. Here it is:

How do you want people to think or act differently after they have seen (or heard) your ad?

"We want them to buy more product/service." An oversimplified and incomplete answer.

Of course that's the wish of every business owner. But here's a more detailed version of the question:
"Do you want them to be more aware of your company?"
"Do you want them to know the price point your products/services cover?"
"Do you want them to know how to get to your location?"
"Do you want them to compare your product/service favourably to the market leader(s)?"

And of course, there are more.

The trouble with most small local advertising is that it uses a one-size-fits-all approach.

Watch those national ads for everything from cars to fast food. You'll notice they are aimed at what the consumer is supposed to do or think differently after seeing them.

What competitive challenges are you going to address in your advertising? Will it be Price? Location? Quality? Lifestyle improvement? Broader selection?

Whatever the answer, that is the way the advertising should be slanted. Targeting is an old and often over-used expression but, as an approach for marketing and advertising, it's hard to beat. And we haven't yet talked about media selection and demographics. That comes next time.


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