Advertising – The Black Hole of Death

Black holes are places where ordinary gravity has become so extreme that it overwhelms all other forces in the Universe.

Everyone knows advertising of some sort is required to grow your business, but what most business owners don’t know is using the wrong advertising channels will destroy your business.

Experts say that roughly 50% of your advertising budget is wasted.  Pressure to succeed combined with this waste will cause an advertising black hole.

Here are 3 of the common problems creating your advertising black hole:

  1. Message – It’s just noise
  2. Advertising  – Poor channel choice
  3. 50/50 – No provable ROI

Recently, I met with a business owner who was going to advertise his online website, a competitive product to LinkedIn and The Ladders, by handing out flyers. He was sharp, well intended, and had a clear vision for his company – however he had no idea how to advertise.

If given $5,000 to advertise his business anyway he wanted, his method of choice was a paper flyer.

Think about that for a minute.

He was going to use paper to promote his 100% digital business. The plan was to pass out as many flyers as $5,000 could buy. A quick email to my print partner told me $5,000 would buy roughly 20,000 8.5×11 full color flyers. Questions still remained: Where would they go? Where would they distribute? Who would they give them to? MOST IMPORTANTLY – ONCE THEY HAVE A FLYER, WHAT DO YOU WANT THEM TO DO?

Instead here are some suggestions for him if given $5,000? (Assuming he understands where the development of his product is, and what value the site can provide today.)

  • Create a beta group and pay them for friends who join – leveraging their network and friends.
  • Create a referral network with colleges and universities.
  • Create partnerships with overcharged HR departments.
  • Partner with Workforce development groups.
  • Run a series of Digital Ads on Google, Yahoo/Bing, or other advertising networks.
  • Translate his entire site into a different language and focus on a specific underserved nationality.
  • Create 10 sets of 1,000 post cards with different messages sent them with the call to action – creating a free account.

Bottom line for his team is they were not ready to advertise.  They had several unanswered questions and any money spent on advertising would have been thrown into a black hole of death.

Before you begin advertising do a few exercises in marketing. Pretend you are buying your own product or service.

Think like your customer

  • What are they looking for?
  • How do they buy?
  • Why do they buy?
  • Where will they find you?
  • Is it easy for them to do business with you?

Advertise with purpose

  • Interrupt your audience.
  • Engage them with a strong message.
  • Educate them on why you.
  • Offer them a reason to get going now.

Track your results

  • Online campaigns
  • Direct Mail with Landing Pages
  • TV or Radio with exclusive offers

Oh, and one last thing.  Trust the results – 99.9% of the time a gut instinct is wrong.  If you are tracking it, and losing money, you know what to do.  Make this year the year where you don’t throw 50% of your advertising dollars down a black hole.  Make this the year where you are in complete control of your advertising outcomes, and smiling all the way to the bank.


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