In Advertising, It’s Better To Be One Of The Pack Than The Lone Dog

Before placing any kind of ad, it’s important to evaluate the medium carefully. When considering placing your ad, check to see if there are any businesses similar to yours currently advertising there. If there aren’t – proceed with caution – there’s probably a good reason. Don’t just assume all your competitors are uneducated and haven’t discovered your ‘revolutionary’ way of advertising. It rarely works that way. Instead, it’s more likely they have tried ahead of you, but were unsuccessful and quit before they lost all their money. If you naively think…”Wow, great, I’ll get all the business because I’m the only one!” You might find yourself a ‘lone dog’ foraging for food in a desert.

Here’s an example – The owner of a small rubber stamp manufacturing company was looking for alternative media outlets to drive in additional business. Almost a soon as he started looking, the floodgates opened and media salespeople rushed to his doorstep by the droves. One in particular was from the Thomas Registry of Manufacturers. If you’re not familiar with the publication, it’s simply a directory of manufacturers of every product imaginable from all around the country that’s primarily used by industrial buyers to source products and parts. The registry’s reputation is outstanding, but is not known for accommodating rubber stamp businesses.

However, the salesperson had been persistent – saying “You’re a manufacturer, you really ought to be in there. Heck, the ad is 5 inches tall by 1 inch wide and is only $3,200 for the whole year. Besides, you’d be the only one with a space ad in the whole section. Everyone else in the section has a measly line listing. Anytime anyone went there to find a stamp manufacturer, you’d be sure to get all of the business…for a meager $3,200 investment. That’s only $266.67 a month!”

Don’t bite on that hook…unless you want to end up like a dead fish on the wall of that salesman’s trophy room. There’s a reason nobody else was advertising in the publication. But, the stamp manufacturer bought the ad, and sure enough, NOBODY called. And since he was the only one with an ad in the book, it’s probably a pretty safe bet that approximately ZERO people looked there for their rubber stamp needs. But that’s not the worst part…believe it or not he renewed his ad for the next year. This time though, he wrote the ad better, and managed 1 whole call. On a positive note, that’s a pretty good increase, percentage-wise.

So what was the main problem? People who buy rubber stamps, for the most part, work in an office and have never even heard of the Thomas Registry! They either call their office supply company, or look in the Yellow Pages under ‘Office Supplies.’ In this case, the customer told him that they wouldn’t look in the Thomas Registry of Manufacturers for stamps…by voting with their dollars. But he didn’t figure it out until over $6,000 had been wasted over the course of two years. Again, when it comes to advertising…being one of the pack is often better than being the lone dog – starving.

Car dealerships understand this principle. For all the goofy, weird stuff they do, they understand the principle of being one of the pack. They clump all of their advertisements together in one section of the newspaper because they know that this method is more likely to increase the overall number of people that see any given ad. They get all the car-buying eyeballs directed to one section of the paper. Then, the dealerships will often be located right next to one another. They figure if they can attract all the possible car buyers to one specific part of town, they might create a synergy that will sell more cars overall. They definately understand this principle, don’t they: become one of the pack.

So what about you? Do a quick search of the media you’re considering buying and see if anyone else has already walked down that path. Generally speaking, the more footprints, the better. If the medium you’re considering buying has no other businesses like yours anywhere to be found, be wary. It’s important to stand out and differentiate yourself from everyone else, just don’t stand so far out you fall off a cliff.

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