The Secret to Advertising Success

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I first met Brad when he was advertising for his floral shop on the local Radio station. On my first visit, I was surprised to find such a prolific floral shop in the back of what appears from the street to be an interior design store. Brad wanted to know the secret to advertising success.

Like most small business owners, Brad wanted to learn what worked in advertising and what did not. He had a reasonable advertising budget that provided good reach and frequency in his market. Brad was continually trying to measure the effectiveness of his advertising. He would ask his customers how they heard about his business or what brought them in for their purchase. Research questions like these are highly anecdotal and not representative of the real motivating factor for the customer’s purchase. Business owners who ask such questions will often get a false positive. The customer will say they saw or heard an advertisement on a medium, not in use by the business. They may say they saw an ad on television when the company never advertised on TV.

Brad’s search for advertising research took a dramatic change of direction the year he decided to buy another well-known flower shop from a retiring owner.

Buying the flower shop from the retiring owner was a smart decision. It was a well-known flower shop with a reputable owner. Brad wanted to capture the loyal customers of the other flower shop, so he retained the name and the telephone number, but the name on the old building soon disappeared. All that remained was a telephone number in the phone book.

Brad installed that telephone number at his store and told his employees to answer that telephone line using the old company’s name.  Customers who were calling that phone number had no idea that they were calling a completely new company. They thought they were still dealing with their old favorite flower shop.

Brad, now the owner of two flower shops, one with a physical location and one in name only, had two datasets of customer information to analyze. The first thing he noticed was that the two flower shops shared some of the same customers. Brad found that some of these shared customers bought their special occasion floral gifts from his store in the upscale interior design store. At the same time, they purchased their more routine floral arrangements from the store he bought and was now operating virtually from his primary location. In other words, his original store had a premium brand image. Customers considered his store for special occasions when the quality and prestige of the purchase was necessary.

As the years progressed, Brad did not spend any money advertising the old business name. He spent his advertising dollars on his original store. Years later, that old telephone number continued to ring with customers calling to order flowers. He was at a loss to explain why.

The answer lies in the power of an emotionally engaging brand image. Brad was smart to buy the name and phone number. For many residents in his city, it was ‘their’ flower shop. That old flower shop had mind share. For a certain percentage of the population, that was the flower shop that came to mind first when they needed flowers. The critical lesson is this; mind share equals market share.

The old flower shop was on the top rung of the Ladder of Importance.

In their book, Positioning, the battle for your mind, Jack Trout and Al Ries first introduced the metaphor of a mental ladder to help explain how the brain classifies information. The product or service you like the most within a given product category will be on the top rung of the Ladder. Your second preference will be on the second rung, your third preference on rung number three, and so on. Imagine a different ladder in your mind for each different product category.

The value of a position on the Ladder of Importance is significant. History suggests that the company that ranks at the top very often has twice as much market share as the company on the next rung, and that company has twice as much market share as the company on the third rung. If your company is not in the top few positions, there is not much market share remaining.

The secret to advertising success is this, “They gotta know you before they need you.”

You must develop a consistent plan that has the proper balance of both reach and frequency for your budget, and your message must be relevant to the consumer’s needs and desires.

You can learn more from my book, The Four Keys to Advertising Success, available from my website.

Please let me know if I can help you.

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Talk to you soon.

Spike SanteeThe Secret to Advertising Success

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