Advertising is an expense, right? Wrong!

Advertising is an expense, right? Wrong!

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By Stanford Chabayanzara

THERE seem to be an understanding of what advertising is, but I feel a dark cloud still hover on its profitability because it is always viewed by the majority as an expense to their businesses. In my view those saying advertising is an expense or those saying it’s an investmentare both right – it depends on how you view it.  So, here is the question! Do you view advertising as an expense or an investment in your business?

Let me shed light on both perspectives – those seeing advertising as an expense and those viewing it as a highly leveraged business aspect with potential to bring millions to the business.

Advertising as an expense

Look at the advert below I saw on BrownSense’s Facebook page. I bet “dollars to donuts”, if you solicit the owner’s opinion on advertising you will be told straight out of the gate that advertising is an expense.  

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The above ad reflects why 99% of businesses view advertising as an expense. They’re surprised when people don’t whip out their wallet and buy straight away. They’re not creating an intrigue or motivating their prospects with an irresistible offer. In fact, nothing resembles an offer on this advert.

Do you think this ad will withstand the competitive gale force winds that rage through online marketplaces with this weak and frail offer?

Let us contrast this with the following irresistible offer!

‘Get America’s best-reviewed mattress, delivered to your door for free, for a 120-night trial’

This ad is bold, specific, and irresistible. The risk reversal (120-night trial) grabbed my attention. This company is going out into the market with a really, really strong and compelling offer. This throat-grabbing offer demands the attention of those in the market for a high-quality mattress – cut through the noise and stand out.

You need something to jolt and awaken your prospects; they are more distracted than ever before.

Advertising as an investment

Let’s reflect a moment on what the late father of advertising, David Ogilvy said about the great late Claude C. Hopkins; “In 1908, when Hopkins was forty-one, he was hired by Albert Lasker to write copy for Lord & Thomas. Lasker paid him $185,000 a year—equivalent to more than $639,000 in today’s money”.

Do you think Albert Lasker viewed advertising as an expense? No! What do we know as the results of the relationship between Lord & Thomas (owned by Albert Lasker) and Claude C Hopkins? The following will paint a vivid picture of how profitable advertising is.

“In Mr. Hopkins’ first decade with Lord & Thomas, billings tripled to $18 million, briefly making it the country’s No. 1 agency. Beginning as a space broker for newspapers and magazines, Lord & Thomas evolved slowly into an agent for advertisers. By the early 1900s, L&T was handling billings of approximately $900,000 and was the third-largest agency in the U.S.; total advertising handled through all agencies at the time was about $12 million”.

Albert Lasker viewed advertising as a vending machine that you can put in a dollar and buy a $5 or a $10 note. Essentially, buying money at a steep discount! What other investments on earth can give these huge returns that advertising does?

Advertising is an investment but let put forward this caveat; only if you understand the purpose of the ad, the people you are targeting and temperature / tone of your message.     

Making advertising super profitable

The most common question I see being raised relates to traffic, I see people placing their adds because the ad platform promised to expose their ads to over 60 000 subscribers. So, they think this exposure guarantees sales. Wrong!

The traffic complaint makes zero sense. How can you have a traffic problem when digital marketing has made traffic more abundant than it’s ever been? The real issue here is not in buying or availability of traffic. Anyone with an internet connection and a credit card can buy traffic.

The real problem is conversion!

Let me explain.

The first place to start looking at in order to improve conversion rate is the offer, the value you are offering to the market. I believe you can’t offer anything without understanding the market. Understanding who they are make the difference between winning and losing. It allows one to tailor marketing message directly for your audience.

You must know your customer intimately first and then offer them a product or service that wow and speak to their fears and address their desires and hopes! If you do this well, it means the ad appeals to the exact segment of the market you want because your message rises above the noise that’s created by loudness, hype, and the general lameness of your competition.

Sadly, if all your marketing consists of you screaming, ‘Buy my stuff!’ you will be ignored in a sea of competition as no one wants to be sold at. Your message will sound like that dude asking a girl he just met for the first time at the bar to marry him.

In closing, let me remind you that the job of an ad is not to sell but to create intrigue and get the prospect to raise their hand and say, ‘I’m interested’.

An ad’s purpose is not to make a sale. It’s one and only job is to funnel prospects off the medium they’re on – Google, Facebook, etc. – by getting them to click through to the next phase of the funnel.


How to Deal with A Difficult Customer in Business

By Robert Gonye

BEING a topical issue, handling a difficult customer will always be experienced in the business line of work. Some of the most common signs you encounter which show that a customer is getting frustrated include crossed arms, heavy sighs and short replies. Worse, these physical signs show they’re losing interest in what you’re saying, and your shot at keeping their business might be fading fast.

Difficult and even angry customers aren’t expressing frustration with you all the time. In some instances, their emotions are tied to external situations and psychological stimuli. What will always make you stand out is when you put your great communication skills to work; the ability to read the situation and use some of the key tips on managing difficult customers to save your customer from running away.

 Practise Reflective Listening.

When a customer is told “I understand,” by a service provider, the customer, most times, will get more agitated because the terms will not make them feel better. Furthermore, such broad statements do not accomplish anything except infuriate the customer.

Reflective listening, as a solution, will cause you to understand what the other person is saying by interpreting their words and their body language. Then, respond by reflecting on the thoughts and feelings you heard back to your customer.

A typical example with a customer can go like this:

CUSTOMER: I’m frustrated because we have a limited budget and you’re unwilling to offer us a discount.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS MANAGER: So, what I’m hearing is that our pricing is a barrier for your business. Your budget is tight, and I’m not offering a discount that meets your needs. Is that correct?

If you’ve adequately understood their sentiment, move on. If not, say, “Tell me more, so I can better understand.” Never promise you’ll fix the situation because you might not be able to. Your goal in this moment is to make your customer feel heard and valued.

Consider Mental Heuristic/Short Cut.

A mind shortcut helps you make quick, efficient decisions based on how you feel toward the person, place, or situation you’re considering. Simply put, it’s the fact that we all made decisions and judgments based on our worldviews and experiences. It’s our bias.

In these situations, objective facts carry little weight. Instead, we run the decision or situation through our minds and develop our own opinions based on what we already know.

 Tap Into the Beginner’s Mind.

The beginner’s mind is a strategy of approaching every situation as if you were a beginner. When you adopt this way of thinking, you enter every conversation with the “don’t know” mind, which keeps you from prejudging a customer or their situation. It also encourages you to live without nagging thoughts like:

•             The customer should have already known they wouldn’t have a budget until next quarter.

•             The customer should have read my email about their discount expiration.

•             The customer should not have assumed I would be available for weekly consultations.

“Should” put your mind on the defensive and jeopardize the productivity of the conversation before it even begins.

Approaching the discussion from a point of balance also means you let go of being an expert. Sure, you’re an expert in your product/service, and you might be an expert in customer service, but you’re not an expert in this customer, their situation, or the conversation you’re currently engaging in.

 Let Go of Fear

Fear of a negative outcome drives many of our reactions. Commonly, fear makes us want to control things. If a customer is being difficult, we’re afraid to challenge them because we might risk the relationship. If they express displeasure with your timeline or pricing structure, we’re afraid because we might not be able to fix the situation.

 When engaging with a difficult customer, your job is to listen, understand, and discern the next steps not to immediately produce a solution.

So, instead of apologizing, slapping together a mediocre fix, or validating feelings, say, “It’s unfortunate this happened. I’m aware of how this is affecting your business, and I appreciate your patience as I work to resolve this matter.”

 Chunk The Problem.

Chunking is the process of taking one big problem and breaking it into several smaller, more manageable portions. These small portions are easier for us to tackle, and make us more willing to begin dealing with the issue at hand. Many people use chunking to organize their daily tasks. It’s equally helpful when managing challenging problems.

For instance, does your customer always have a reason why they can’t set up their account and get started using your business platform or tools? At your next meeting, ask them to help you break down each of the final steps you need to take to get things moving. Simply seeing each task chunked can make it easier for your customer to digest what’s left to do.

 Remember: Anger Is Natural.

Ever throw out a price or time investment required, and watch your customer become frustrated, maybe even angry, at how high it is? Or maybe you’ve been on the other side. A customer tells you how much they want to pay for your new product upgrade, and it’s so low it makes you mad.

The fact of the matter is emotions are naturally wired into humans. In short, anger is our evolutionary way of bargaining.

When faced with an angry customer, avoid the (natural) tendency to justify your position. Instead, understand that they’re merely feeling undervalued and attempting to control the situation.

Take your customer’s frustration seriously, but not personally. Remain calm. And actively listen to what your customer says. When you’ve confirmed you understand their frustration, thank them for communicating it, and tell them you’ll get back to them with a solution.

When a customer’s angry, no solution may make them feel better. Give them time to cool off, consult with your manager on the best way forward.

 Keep Calm and Carry On.

Conflict is a part of the business. How you react under fire impacts the future of your customer relationships.

The adage, “The customer is always right” still rings true. You have far more to lose by taking the low road and stooping to a customer’s level of hostility.

Treating someone with disrespect can reflect negatively on you and your company, so reputation management should always be top of mind.

Remember: people will often mirror the emotional signals you emit. If you respond with hostility and anger, don’t expect friendliness and understanding in return.

The views given herein are solely for information purposes; they are guidelines and suggestions and are not guaranteed to work in any particular way.

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