As we’re well into the New Year, you should be in the process of developing your advertising plan for the entire year. I am not going to tell what media you should be using for your company, as that’s up to you to decide. I have enough trouble figuring out what media methods are the best for our company. There are so many options out there available to us today that I find the whole process of making those decisions one of the most difficult tasks I face every year. Therefore, I will let you and your staff or your professional consultants help you make those decisions.

There are some important commonalities that we all should keep in mind as we plan both the media we are going to use and the type of message we wish to send. To begin, we need to determine the type of image we want for our company. Believe it or not, there are several options. One is to be the low-cost provider, or the Walmart of the industry. Another is to be a high-quality, top-of-the-line provider, or the Mercedes- or Rolex-type provider. These companies have determined the markets they wish to serve, which in turn helps drive their types of advertising and media they use. Rolex is a very good example of a company that pursues its top-of-the-line strategy, not only in the type of ads it produces but in the locations it places them, as well. Those who enjoy watching golf and/or tennis are very much aware that Rolex has clocks that look like Rolex watches placed strategically near golf tees as well as around high-profile tennis courts. Rolex has determined its consumers are likely to be involved in golf or tennis or both. They place their advertising dollars there rather than in say the middle of a blue-collar television sitcom, which is more likely to feature a Walmart ad.

For a young company, it’s especially important to make this determination and then be consistent in everything you place before the public. This includes your advertising, trucks, website, and everywhere else you contact the public. In the old days, we used to say that the person answering the phone was the first line of contact between your company and the consumer. Today, it is very likely that consumers know a great deal about your company and already have opinions about your company before they make that first phone call or send you an email. This doesn’t reduce the importance of making a good impression when a customer makes that first contact with you. In fact, to the contrary, it’s more important than ever that the person(s) answering the phone can be of help to consumers who are much more informed than consumers were in the past.

I want to re-emphasize the importance of maintaining a consistent message in all of your contacts with the public. When a company sends out differing messages regarding the product or services it is providing, the customer becomes confused and, as a result, will often stay away. A good example of not knowing exactly what your market is and being consistent in your presentation is shown by K-Mart. Before Walmart became the giant it is now, Target and K-Mart were competing for somewhat the same customers. Generally speaking, K-Mart was viewed as a little less “up-scale” than Target. Then came the giant known as Walmart. Now, K-Mart had a very strong competitor regarding being the low price provider, yet they didn’t have the quality nor image to challenge Target. They were caught in the middle without a truly viable company image. Make sure your company doesn’t find itself in that position.

There is one other important point with regard to your advertising and the messages you are sending to the public. I hope that you will make every effort to be truthful and honest in your advertising — not just from a legal standpoint but from a moral standpoint, as well. I hope you are developing your company to be a strong force for many years. Putting out false and/or misleading advertising may show some short-term benefits to your company, but, in the long run, you are damaging both yourself and the industry. You know the type of advertising to which I am referring. If you have any questions regarding your advertising statements, feel free to contact your local Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB can send you a set of advertising standards the industry has developed for more than 100 years.

My message is rather simple: be consistent, honest, and truthful in every contact you have with the public.

Publication date: 1/30/2017

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