Advertising in this day and age has become more confusing and daunting for the vast majority of business owners. No longer are we in an era when a newspaper ads and billboards will be sufficient. Digital advertising continues to rise, according to Forbes, by 2021 digital ad spending in the US is projected to be nearly $130 Billion. Marketing today is a fast-paced and cutthroat industry, what worked a few years ago may not be as effective today.
Standing out and understanding how to reach a captive audience can be difficult, which leaves businesses struggling to compete. Many small businesses neglect advertising initiatives, avoid digital platforms or choose not to advertise at all.
Choosing not to advertise and relying on word of mouth has been enough to keep companies thriving, but this isn't sustainable. At a certain point, the reach that word of mouth provides will hit a limit, and advertising is the best way to attract new customers. Bad reviews and negative press coverage can send companies into a downward spiral, especially with no marketing budget in place to quickly rebound. Competitors who understand the importance of marketing will easily be able to lure customers away and spend very little doing so.
Billboards, print publications, controversial, and misleading ads; these platforms and tactics are all poor choices, with some exceptions. Relying on one specific advertising outlet is a marketing disaster waiting to happen. Billboards and print publications are the easy targets, they work to a degree but are often overlooked, and may never reach a target audience. With the amount of time, spent on mobile devices and consumption of information via the internet; many businesses are better off spending money on digital advertising. Some companies who fully understand their target audience will see great ROI for ads in magazines or a well-placed billboard, but these ads often come with a hefty price tag. Even when well placed, there is no guarantee the right individuals will drive past a billboard, open a magazine, or remember the advert long enough to act.
Controversial Success & Failures
Controversial ads can be a little harder to nail down, and largely depends on the overall audience reaction. Often what seems offensive to one group is genuine to another, and the result could become a marketing success. For example, Nike and their recent campaign with Colin Kaepernick; the ad had a massive backlash from many Nike supporters, with individuals burning shoes. The reality was that many people praised Nike for the ad, and according to CBS News, Nike made nearly $6 Billion as a result and share prices hit an all-time high.
On the other spectrum, countless companies who have had controversial ads see no gain or experience loses. Pepsi's tv ad featuring Kendall Jenner received immediate backlash forcing Pepsi to pull the ad and apologize. Pepsi saw no significant drop in growth from this but received little to nothing for an ad costing millions of dollars. For large corporations, advertising blunders might be easy to recover from but may result in huge losses and tarnished reputations for others.
Misleading ads are another big offender, people don't like trickery, but this doesn't always stop marketers. A misleading advert might fool a few people but is more likely to frustrate users, especially if their time is wasted.
The Bottom Line
Advertising likely won't kill your business but ignoring it and making poor decisions can lead to significant loses. Advertising content and placement need to be well thought out, never rely on just one platform, and avoid offensive messages. Ads should be genuine, direct, and to the point.