By simple virtue of the fact that you’ve started to read this article means you were browsing the First Directory blog page, it came up in a search engine, or you discovered it via some other means. In addition, the fact that I’m beginning to engage you as the reader (even loosely) means you’re already one step closer to understanding some of the many answers to the question ‘why advertise?’
Let’s examine what ‘advertise’, by definition, actually means. An ‘all singing and dancing’ online dictionary defines the word ‘advertise’ as follows:
“Describe or draw attention to (a product, service, or event) in a public medium in order to promote sales or attendance”
It doesn’t get any more straightforward than that. However, as a result of their direct “buy me” approach, many people are fooled into thinking that adverts are designed to promote sales or attendance immediately – make people do something straight away e.g. buy the latest iPhone, drink the most popular tea, or even advertise. Whilst I won’t deny that every advertiser would love that to happen; that’s not always their aim. That’s the brilliant thing about the advertising engine; it creates memories, whether we like it or not. Our memories are not necessarily to be acted upon straight away but to be unearthed at a later time when it’s appropriate; everyone remembers “Va-va-voom” and “Because you’re worth it”, right? While that could be deemed a rather cynical outlook from an advertising perspective – that we’re being exposed to said advertisement, the advertisement is ‘branding’ our thoughts and we’re like cattle being herded through a field of decision making; people do actually rely on advertising to help them make decisions; they want to make the right one. Having said this – being part of a herd is another article and not everyone wants L’Oreal make-up, to buy Robbie Williams’ latest album or drink Woodpecker (you all know the phrase!).
Or don’t they?
After all, we don’t necessarily respond to advertising to quench our own desires, but perhaps for others; everyone needs or wants something. There are a multitude of answers to the question ‘why advertise?’ Here’s a handful to get us started…
To reach new customers and generate sales. Your product, idea, service or event needs exposure to succeed; even if it’s not something people necessarily want or need right that minute. People have many research tools at their disposal; Google for example. They may mention their discovery to a friend and by then your advert has reached two people for the price of one. If you get your message across correctly and people like it then they’ll start to advertise it themselves; and what better method to get your product known by than that of recommendation through familiarity? “Simples!”
Because a lot of it is free! Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, WordPress and a whole host of other social networks act as the perfect medium by which to advertise; without it costing you a penny! Free advertising doesn’t end at social networks though; companies like First Directory offer the option to add an entry for free too. This gives you the opportunity to try real advertising for next to zero commitment; just the time it takes to write a directory listing! In my opinion, it’s a mistake not to take advantage of these services.
The more you advertise on-line, the more likely a search engine will find you or your product. If Google or any other search engine ‘sees’ a certain product or service which is focussed in a particular way it will start to ‘return’ it more in search results; why? Because it’s starting to trust it more; it makes sense, it works – people start to see search results related to you or your product appearing higher up the rankings, which in turn generates more hits and the cycle continues. It creates the perfect channel for potential customers to find you through.
Because your competitors are advertising too. However much you’d like people to come knocking on your door without having to do any hard work; unfortunately they won’t You have to tell them you’re there first and the chances are, You’re amongst many others in the world who you’ve never met and will never know; who are selling very similar products to you.
To build and maintain a respectable brand image in the eyes of all customers, current and potential. People want to know that what you’re advertising is what you’re saying it’s going to be; 100%. They want to hear it from other people, be able to trust it and substantiate the decision to buy whatever it is you’re selling them. Advertising needs to convey what you’re selling in the perfect scenario so people can literally imagine themselves in that environment. It’s no accident that car adverts often show a person driving a sporty, yet reliable, car effortlessly through winding roads whilst turning everyone’s heads, or that whilst a man is enjoying only the most sparkling, golden glass of cider with his mates in a pub, that he’s also the centre of attention. People want to be advertised to; they want to see it ‘working’ and imagine themselves getting the same results.
I purport that in answer to the question I set out at the beginning of this article, that there are many answers to ‘why advertise?’ and that it’s a combination of these answers which contributes to overall advertising success. What do you think? Please leave your answers below.