How things have changed

Lord Leverhulme once famously commented, “I know half of my advertising spend is wasted; I just don’t know which half”. I can’t find a date attributed for this quote but the good Lord Leverhulme, the founding father of the massive Unilever enterprise, left this world in May 1925.

Now, in 1925 we didn’t have television, radio was barely emerging, with the first radio station reportedly created in 1916, and we certainly didn’t have the Internet.  In 2011 there are thousands of different ways to advertise. There is a multitude of marketing channels, which can then be split into so many different categories or alleged targeted groups. Even with a great selection, the question then is how good is the creative element that the audience understands what you are doing? And does it even leave an impression? If Lord Leverhulme was alive today, he would probably comment “95% of my advertising budget is wasted.

A multitude of channels

The problem is highlighted by a recent move by Pepsi to avoid its traditional television advertising at the Super Bowl and instead do an online campaign based on social media, which would focus users to select which social causes Pepsi should invest in. All sounds great, but results are in, and from a driver of sales perspective, it fell flat.

What small businesses can do

Now, think how hard it is for small businesses which have virtually non-existent advertising budgets, or any budgets to speak of, to make such spending decisions. That is why brand design is so important. By that, I refer not to logos, websites or creative elements but really to the concept that underpins the brand. That the business strategically has a unique position within the mindset of its target audience. That it is seen as a specialist in a field, and that it doesn’t require volume sales to make it profitable. These are the main elements in creating good brands for small businesses. Let the brand and business concept do the work, not the ad spend.