Is It Worth Your Money to Advertise?

SOCIAL MEDIA FLOWERSI hope you don’t still believe marketing is just about advertising or promotion (social media, enews, websites, etc.)?

It’s not!

Marketing is simply defined as  “bringing your products or services to market”:

  • getting them priced correctly & clearly so people understand cost,
  • finding the market who needs what you offer,
  • keeping this “target market” informed through promotion & outreach,
  • clarifying your positioning (uniqueness) in the marketplace and, of course,
  • having a great service (or product)


Sometimes ads work really well for some businesses (usually consumer-oriented) in certain circumstances. My article on “Creating Ads That Work” explains a bit about that.

But for most service businesses, advertising is not the best tactic for building business in the first 20 years.  The ROI or payback isn’t as effective or immediate as other strategies, unless the proper foundation has been laid. (that’s exactly how our consulting service helps you).

Yet we know many businesses will test ads believing theirs will work wonders. It is possible, if done correctly.

How to Make the Best Choices When Advertising

If you’re going to test some ads, it’s worth getting a bit of professional help to check your assumptions and ensure the ads support (not replace) the rest of the marketing for your company.

One painful mistake we’ve seen is when businesses buy their own expensive ad space ($10,000 for a tiny ad in San Francisco Chronicle, for example) in a large publication or online to reach tens of thousands of people who are not really their target market. That’s broadcast advertising and requires a completely different tact to work.

How Broadcast Advertising Works

radio signalOur media buyer has helped us create some very successful campaigns. She has access to proprietary industry analytics programs for media to measure various target markets for broadcast advertising.

That’s how we select the right print, radio or television ad to buy that has a highly ranked listenership/viewing audience of our clients’ exact market.

For smaller companies, you’ll often gain far better results advertising to narrower audiences in media that reaches your specific market.

For example, a barber in San Francisco’s Sunset District would be wasting his money advertising in the SF Chronicle but might easily gain some new clients by advertising in the local Sunset Beacon (if the ad is created properly!).

Good Ad Examples & Why They Work

Here are a few good ad examples and our professional opinion about what works in the ad. Because we’ve created hundreds of ads and measured what works, we evaluate ads not just on how cute they are but on what actually works to drive audiences to buy what you sell.

Of course, you’ll have your own personal opinion, which is important, too. We’d love for you to share that in the comments below.

May this help you get the best results if you test your own ads!


What is great about this ad?

munchery ad 

[Note: this ad was on the menu for Tuesday 2/24/15 but they have many other choices each day.]




This is an online ad for MUNCHERY –  a company that delivers gourmet meals by top chefs to consumers. The ad works because:

  • The company has already established itself fairly well in the marketplace, so ads like this entice sales. (I’m not a foodie, so to get my attention with this ad is a plus!)


  • It’s well designed. Even for us vegans, the food photography is appealing, well balanced with a geometrically eye-catching shape, and looks like a beautiful wall hanging.


  • Price, delivery date, and item description are easy to find. Page design offers nutrition and other details to answer almost any (sales) question a buyer might have.


  • Easy to order button is well placed. (It’s hard to see this small but if you look at their site you can get a sense of it). This is a critical call-to-action to stimulate sales.


  • Profile of chef offers more info to foodies or his fans


  • There’s social proof (yellow stars) and you can share your comments on their social pages, too. Consumers love the option to share their opinions.


What do you think of this? Add your comments to this post below!


Why Does This Ad Work?

hctg desert willow











This “advertorial” for Desert Willow in the wedding guidebook series,   Here Comes the Guide, works well for this company for several reasons:

  • Their photos show off their venue, Desert Willow, to their desired demographic.


  • The text is written by a top editorial staff offering a qualified sense of the experience one has at this venue instead of the more common, rather sappy wedding ad language. Readers’ expectations are properly set so they’re not disappointed when they visit Desert Willow – they get just what is described in the book and online.


  • This publication reaches the company’s exact target market (brides seeking locations to get married)


  • This very high quality book only writes about the nicer venues. The book reaches a wide geographic area and is well distributed in bookstores throughout California, so can get “found” easily by those seeking what this ad offers.


  • Associating the company’s venue with this well known, quality book puts Desert Willow in a league of respected venues.


  • The company can gauge their ROI because the publication tracks results for the online portion of client “advertorials”.


[Note full disclosure: I worked with this publication years ago so know their quality, ethical values and good results for clients]


What do you think of this? Add your comments to this post below!


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When payback for the cost of ads is important to you, our designers, writers, media buyers, and marketing strategists are standing by to help. Contact us online or by phone.  510-879-7600.



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