I saw an advert on CNN some time ago. It said, “A man who refuses to advertise is like a man who winks in the dark. He knows what he is doing, but nobody else does.” You can have a powerful product or services to offer, but if nobody knows what you are doing, you are not likely to make it in business. Advertising is crucial.

It is essential for people to know that you are there and to know what you are doing. However, don’t do advertising for the sake of it. Deciding on advertising should be a strategic move on your part. I have come to discover that sometimes one should not bother to advertise. There are alternative ways of getting the word out about your product that could serve effectively as advertising.

People come across hundreds of adverts every day. If you wake up early in the morning and switch on your radio, you have started. You come across adverts of all manners of products and services virtually every minute of the day. How do you position your adverts such that they stand out? How will people be able to decide to buy your product or to get your services when your advert is just only one out of a hundred?

Deciding on advertising is an investment decision. When you put money into a business, you expect returns on your investment. That is the same way you should expect that if you spend money on advertising, you should get some returns. We must ask the same questions that we ask when we make investment decisions. Will I get my money back? If your money is coming back, don’t bother to spend it. In fact, you can go a step further by asking yourself what the return on investment is. Of what use is branding if people are not buying from you? Some companies spend plenty of money advertising all in the name of branding, and there is no tangible effect of such investment in their sales.

Advertising and branding should go together. Advertising is doing sales pitch in print hence you have got to be able to make more sales and get more people to patronise your business at the end of the day. One other critical question is whether you measure the effect or result of your advertising. I experimented a few years after I started pastoring in Lagos. I found out that most churches just printed handbills and posters whenever they had one program or the other, and I wanted to find out what works. So, we ran a survey, and it was surprising to discover for example that a lot of posters are wasted. Apart from defacing the environment, most posters are a waste of money in the sense that the effect is next to nothing. Sometimes I see a poster and I would like to read what is on it but can’t because the print fonts are too small. Somehow the people who designed such posters forget that it is something people are going to read while on motion. If you put something for people to read by the side of the road and they cannot read it while moving, then you have wasted your money because it is not going to achieve any result.

On the other hand, the experiment proved that of all the things we used to invite people, invitation cards were the most effective. Then I had to ask why and found that it is simply because it is personalised. Sure, there is the mass media which helps to create general awareness too. I will advise that if you are advertising, capitalise on your unique selling proposition.

You will succeed!

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