Seth Godin reminds me to bring up a subject we’ve discussed before.

I often find myself debating CEOs and business owners about small scale vs. large scale marketing. I prefer to start marketing on a small scale in order to refine the marketing process and perhaps modify the product being marketed.

The other side wants to go in head first with a big mailer or advertising campaign. Fooled by the scale of big numbers, the rationale is always something like, “if we reach 100,000 people and just 1% buy, we’ll make a fortune!” This is usually the only time I find myself on the smaller side of a business spending argument.

Advertising has traditionally been sold as a number’s game. The more people you reach with your message, the greater your possible return. That’s the trade-up scheme in advertising sales. We can send out 5,000 mailers for $6,000 or, we can send 10,000 mailers for $8,000. And the really good news is that the cost goes down per impression as you buy more and more and more and more advertising. Think of what it will mean to your business if you reach 1 million people!

It may mean only that you’ve spent a lot of money. I find this message particularly hard to get through to people with a new business idea. If you show your product to 100 people, the right 100 people, and no one buys; show your product to 1,000 people and it’s very likely no one will buy.

You don’t lack the right slogan. You lack the right product. Face it and save your money for improving your idea or developing a new one.

Moving on is not the same as quitting. Advertising does not work like the lottery. Increasing the investment in advertising does not increase the percentage chance of return. Most people in business think it does. They’re wrong. There are storage units and garages full of unsold ‘great’ ideas. I’ve seen dozens.

Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
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