Breaking through the noise

In Part I, I discussed the changes that have taken place in marketing over the past decade or so that have made traditional advertising ineffective. The quantity of advertising messages we receive on a daily basis has become so great, our brains must ignore most of these messages to focus on what is important. Consequently, advertisers are not getting through. Obviously, this does not keep them from trying. The more ineffectual advertising becomes, the more they employ it. While traditional, Madison Avenue-style advertising is dead (perhaps overwhelming throngs of living-dead is a better metaphor), it is still possible for small businesses to use advertising effectively.

To be effective, advertising must first get past our brain filters. The easiest way to do this, of course, is if these filters are already turned off, that is when people are actively seeking your products or services. All you need to do to be heard by these people is make sure your message is easy to find. This is where yellow pages, classified ads, web sites, search engine optimization, and search engine marketing come into play.

Of course, it is not always prudent to sit around and wait for people to seek out your product or service, so another way to get past the filter is to offer something of value. Most effective in this category is information your target audience can use, e.g. articles on fashion trends, eye health, contact lens use, etc. Whether electronic, print mail, or print media, you can use this valuable information to establish familiarity and credibility through which you can obtain permission to begin a conversation about your product or service.

Ultimately, the most effective form of advertising is word of mouth. Word of mouth is powerful for two reasons: one, people do not usually ignore their friends or peers; and two, people are far more likely to trust, or at least consider, words of a friend or peer, as opposed to those from a commercial source. Word of mouth only occurs when you provide a customer experience worth talking about and requires the most effort and consistency on your part to maintain.

While long gone are the days when you could effectively advertise by simply using “er” words (e.g. whiter, brighter, faster, better), with enough thought and effort, you can still create effective advertising strategies to grow your practice or dispensary.