Last week I was having coffee with a business owner friend of mine and he was telling me about the previous months advertising. It didn’t do much in the way of producing new customers. So, I asked him to tell me about his talk with the advertising sales person. He looked a little sheepish and admitted that the salesperson arrived at a time when he was really busy and he just told the salesperson to run the same ad as last month.

From this conversation I think it’s clear that this was not only a wasted effort on his part but a loss to his bottom line. If my friend’s advertising had worked the previous month then he would not be complaining. However, even if that had been the case, this kind of decision making is not the best way to spend advertising and marketing dollars which are in short supply in this economy.

Let’s Face Facts

Business seldom runs smoothly. It’s nice when it does but there are emergencies, unhappy customer, employee issues, accidents, and a host of other challenges that take up time and energy. But at the same time you don’t put a band-aid on a broken leg and call it good. Life seems to have its own schedule and it will rarely coincide with yours.

I firmly believe that successful business owners are both good time managers and list makers. They become students of their businesses and set priorities that prevent episodes like my friend experienced. There is a lot to be said for working by appointment only. I know here in Montana we are somewhat laid back in our relationship with vendors and meetings. But when the economy is stumbling along, as it currently is, time can be an allie or an enemy.

 Advertising Is An Employee

When I do training I always explain to business owners that advertising is an employee. You expect a return on your investment in both an employee and advertising. However, just as an employee requires some direction from you on what work is to be done, advertising needs similar direction as well.

What Do You Want Advertising to Accomplish?

Advertising can do many things. Advertising can build and re-enforce your brand name. Advertising can bring customers in to take advantage of a sale or promotion. Advertising can educate customers on why they need a particular product or service. Advertising can create curiosity about your company or products. Advertising can generate word-of-mouth buzz about your business. You may need some or all of these things to build your business.

Some Final Thoughts

Set some short and long-term goals for your advertising. Short term might bring customers in immediately while long-term advertising will make your business name a household word. Always remember that any dollar spent on advertising must be an investment. It must return more value than it costs. Otherwise, why do it?

Communicate with your employees. What customer feedback are they hearing? What products or services might be missing? Is your pricing competitive? Are your policies and procedures slowing the sales process? All these things can defeat all the dollars spent on advertising. We’ve all seen or heard the term, “As Advertised.” To the customer that means I expect you to deliver on everything you said in your ad. Can you blame a customer for jumping ship if you don’t perform, “as advertised?” Everything you do or say reflects on your business and directly affects your bottom line. Make sure that every aspect of your business is “As Advertised.”

Tom Egelhoff is an Amazon best selling author of three business books. His 400+ page web site is one of the oldest continuous sites on the Internet. He has been featured on MSNBC’s “Your Business” and quoted in business publications in China, Turkey, India and the UK. He hosts “Open for Business” each week, 11-2 PM Mountain Time on .

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