Marketing and advertising should be considered conservative investments. They are not miracle workers. They are not magic formulas. They are not instant gratifiers. If you don’t recognize that marketing is a conservative investment, you’ll have difficulty committing yourself to a marketing program.
Suppose you buy a blue-chip stock. If it drops after a few weeks, you don’t sell it. You hold on to it in hopes that its value will increase. And in all likelihood, it will. Such is the nature of a conservative investment. Look at marketing in the same way. If it doesn’t produce instant results, it’s because most marketing doesn’t. If it does produce instant results, excellent—but don’t expect this to happen every time.
Television is the most effective of all marketing vehicles, the undisputed heavyweight champion and the American Idol, though online marketing is becoming a contender for the title and should hold it before long. But television is also the most elusive and easiest to misuse. It’s elusive because it’s not as simple as it seems, because it requires many talents, because it is not normally associated with small business people, and because it is dominated by giants who give entrepreneurs a mistaken impression of how it should be used. You cannot use TV as Nike, Coca-Cola, Ford, and McDonald’s use it unless you have their money.
Television is easy to misuse because it does seem straightforward, because almost anyone can afford to run one or two television commercials, because it is readily available, because there are more TV options than ever, because it is the medium that strokes the entrepreneur’s ego the most tantalizingly, and because it re¬quires a whole new discipline. Television is not, as some believe, radio with pictures. Television is merging with computers in the form of Web TV–type products, which enable you to view the Internet and E-mail on your TV screen.
Marketing will contribute to slow but steady increases for you. At the end of a year, you’ll be able to say that you’ve invested X dollars in marketing and received X plus Y in sales. Don’t expect marketing to suddenly double your sales. Although that has happened, it is unusual. Recognizing this, you’ll feel good about making a conservative investment in marketing the next year, and the year after that. If you expect more from marketing, chances are you’ll be disappointed. If you expect only that, chances are you’ll be gratified. And successful.
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