When More is Less in Small-Business Advertising


At the risk of sounding like a heartless parent, I have to admit that I find the amount of paperwork that comes home from my son’s school a bit overwhelming. In addition to that, several emails arrive daily from teachers outlining various school activities, sporting events and fund-raisers. Given the sheer amount of information that arrives from the school, I have to admit I don't read it all. In fact, I don't read much of it (yes, I should be ashamed). My day of reckoning finally came however when my wife asked me about an important parent–teacher conference that I missed.

The point of my poorly-executed paper monitoring is to illustrate how many small businesses treat their audience.  Somewhere deep in the midst of numerous ads is a valid, persuasive marketing piece. However, one’s tendency to over communicate can mask or nullify any credible message.

I’ve always maintained that your marketing serves as somewhat of a training course for your audience.  If you happen to be a business that inundates your audience with a particular type of message, you may be in danger of training your audience to tune out. If you need more proof, just think back to the flood of political ads we recently endured.

Here are a few pointers to bring more balance to your communications:

Overdoing social media I’m always puzzled by businesses that join social media platforms to use their accounts for unabashed, unrestrained marketing plugs. Should you promote your business? Absolutely.  However, it is totally unnecessary to use some of these automated programs that spit out scores of tweets and posts every five minutes.  Scale things back a bit and provide fun, educational or interesting info. Remember that social media is primarily about sharing – not taking.

Too many sales If you are looking to illicit a response from consumers, having the biggest sale of the year every week, is not the way to get that done. Creating too many sales events can actually be a bad thing.  As stated earlier, you run the risk of training your customers – making them feel as though missing one sale isn’t really a major issue if there are other ones coming shortly thereafter. Spread your sales events out a bit.  If you do, you’re likely to get a more passionate and immediate response from your audience.

Junk mail and spam Some small businesses rely on direct-mailers or email in order to get their message out.  If you happen to be one of them, your formula for success will mirror the advice given for the previous areas. Less is more.  This is especially true for email marketing.  In fact, email marketing is one of the most volatile areas in which to advertise.  Tough spam laws and the ease in which your communications can be blocked aid in this volatility.  With that in mind, your email blasts should be infrequent. If you can discipline yourself to follow this measured approach, you’ll find that your “unsubscribes” are held to a minimum.

Walter Dailey is a proven creative strategist. He’s the lead consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector, a creative services organization that specializes in jingles, radio ads and music licensing development for small and mid-sized businesses.  Walter is finally on Twitter. Follow him here: @wrdailey