Jumping Across the Advertising Chasm

February 22, 2018
Peter McEllhenney

One idea I think about a lot in relation to business growth is what I call the “advertising chasm.”

This idea is related to the topic of word of mouth advertising, which I talked about in my last post. Word of mouth advertising works within the social and professional networks of you and your customers. And word of mouth can be sufficient to build your business, with the support of techniques designed to keep you top of mind like email and social media, if those networks are large enough to generate all the customers you need.

When those networks aren’t large enough to generate all the customers you need, then you have to turn to other forms of advertising. And these forms of advertising generally are multiple times more expensive and multiple times less effective that word of mouth.

That’s because word of mouth delivers motivated customers who already have confidence your business is the right one to choose. Other forms of advertising don’t necessarily deliver any of these things (pay-per-click advertising like Google AdWords is a partial exception).

To make up for this lack of motivation and confidence, you have to run big numbers. You have to show a lot of ads to a lot of people to get enough paying customers.  And that usually means spending serious amounts of money.

That’s where the advertising chasm comes into play. Because not all businesses have the money to spend. And those that do are often dissatisfied with the ROI on the advertising, because they are used to getting customers cheaply .

The result is that businesses can find themselves standing on one edge of the advertising chasm, seeing how far it is to the opposite side which we could call “business growth,” and never make the jump.

Now advertising is not the only chasm businesses face when they want growth. Business growth can greatly increase your fixed costs and it can greatly increase the complexity of running your business. Growth may be dependent on the ability to hire workers who are in short supply. Long sales or production cycles are barriers to growth. And so on. Advertising is only one chasm.

No marketing person can make the advertising chasm go away. We try to make it as small as possible, to get you the most bang for your buck. We try to give the best possible estimates for the results you can expect from the time and money you spend. We certainly are only going to recommend tactics that we believe will work. But we can’t eliminate the necessity of spending time and money when you need to spend time and money to meet your goals.

By saying this, I don’t want you to think that anyone who decides not to jump across the advertising chasm is making a mistake. Because I don’t believe that. It is a big jump.

Ultimately, I want people who work with me to understand what it will take to get from Point A to Point B, and let them decide. Helping people make good decisions for themselves is the right thing to do. It is also good for my business.

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