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Understand Why You Need Advertising
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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There are some cases where the adage "all new business is good business" does not ring true. In the advertising industry, especially as a small shop or freelancer, there are few instances when a potential client is turned down. In AdLand, it is usually feast or famine. Sometimes during the year we don't have the luxury to sit back and choose which clients we want.

But tough decisions come.

The case where turning down a client makes more sense than picking one up is when the client is confused about its need for advertising, or if, in your point of view, the client is not ready for advertising.

Perfect example: early stage start-up. Jake Finkelstein of ExitEvent wrote a nice post about why some startups should wait to advertise (he thinks all startups; we've worked with startups so we'll say some) because they are still evolving their product or service into the ultimate item that its consumers want. We agree. Sometimes startups want to start pushing a product or service before it is even finished. In some cases, that is a good idea. Usually, though, the consumer (and investors) can leave disappointed.

Now there are some advertising and marketing activities those startups can use, such as market research, testing, branding strategy, and so on, so lumping everything into the media spend portion of advertising does our industry a vast injustice.

We have all sat down with potential and prospective clients and asked them why they want to start an advertising campaign. After you dig through the "I need to boost sales," and "I need to get more traffic," we have to see what environmental factors are changing in their industry to really understand if advertising is the right solution. If a superior product came out, and sales started to fall, will advertising be more effective than product development? Probably not. If a business sells a product that costs $5 to make while another competitor sells the same product but produces for $3, should the business conduct an advertising campaign or look to boost efficiency?

As communications professionals, we would love to do advertising activities for anyone who needs them. But we need to make sure that advertising is truly the answer they need.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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