Should small brands invest in advertising?
This is a question we are often asked by customers. It’s better to dedicate efforts to be present in as many stores as possible, they tell us. And the publicity will come later.
Who should advertise?
So anyone who wants to sell: Big or small. Cheap or expensive. Modern or classic. Because whatever you sell, there will always be someone who will sell something that could replace your product. Always. Therefore, you need to tell your potential buyers that your proposal is better than the one next to it. And that’s advertising.
Some years ago it was more difficult to be small and advertise: the big media (TV, Radio, Press) were taken over by the big advertisers and their big budgets, so the small brands had to settle for options like local media, which many times were not the right platform to launch their messages.
And precisely because of this, many small brands that did understand that it was important to invest in communication, ended up not doing so because advertising media such as the national press or regional televisions reached a target to whom there was no point in communicating to.
They also preferred not to advertise in local media with little perceived glamour, and so this investment did not come about (e.g.: a luxury jewellery store in Madrid with no premises in other cities will not want to pay for their ad to be seen on TV all over Spain…but they don’t want their ad to appear in a local free newspaper, alongside non-premium proposals that have nothing to do with their brand).
Fortunately, the Internet changed everything.
And just as each individual can browse the pages he or she likes, so advertising discovers a vast blue ocean on the web that didn’t exist before.
It is, in general, a very good deal: I see whatever I want to see on the internet, often without paying, and in return (and thanks to the famous cookies that allow us to understand our tastes and habits) the brands that consider me an interesting target send me personalized advertising.
If I live near Madrid and my browsing style suggests that I can afford a luxury watch, that luxury jewellery store in the example above will be able to design advertising specifically for me.
This is precisely the most remarkable advantage of online advertising. Being able to target people who are more likely to be interested in the message (this statement has many derivations and we could debate it for hours, but let’s simplify).
However, the reason why many brands bet on the Internet was not because of targeting, but because of the price. The Internet is cheaper, they shouted. I can get thousands of impressions for just a few cents…or so it was presumed.
But like everything in life, the cheap is expensive. And our parents used to tell us, even though sometimes we want to forget it, that “nobody gives away hard cash for 4 pesetas” (this expression made me feel really old, by the way).
The Internet is not a bargain. Which is very good news.
And if you pay a few cents to show your ad to thousands of people, that’s wonderful. But if you pay a few cents to show it to thousands of robots, you’re throwing your pennies away.
And that has happened (and happens) too much. The use of technology should not replace the use of common sense. And a little of the latter is often enough to decide whether a certain advertising campaign is a good idea or not. Especially if your budget is not too big and you can’t afford experiments.
I insist, online advertising is very good news, which has allowed many brands to advertise when they could not before.
But you have to do it right. And that means assuming that any quality service has a price. That bargains are not usually in abundance. That the internet is a very complex world full of opportunities, but also with many pirates on the prowl.
And that if you don’t know how to do something, the best solution is always to ask for help.
Never was it so easy for small brands to fight big ones.
If your brand is attractive and different enough, forget the complexities, communicate your benefits in a noticeable way to the right target.
Think about both creativity of your ad and the media plan to reach your potential customers, especially in online campaigns, where media and message are closely linked.
If you can, design creativity and the media at the same time; it will give you a competitive advantage. Make up for the lack of size with cunning and strong bets.
And may the best one win.