There’s a phrase I like that summarizes the way I think about advertising in regards to generating sales and solving business problems: The best way to kill a bad business is good advertising. It may seem counterintuitive but it’s true: what we do as advertisers never provides a single silver bullet or cure-all that can fix the problems that may be inherent to a company’s product or services. Advertising is often a major ingredient, but not necessarily the total solution because if effective advertising drives people to your business and the experience is not what they were promised, those leads are very likely to dry up and eventually disappear.
When looking at a sales funnel, it’s important to take a step back as a business owner and be hyper-focused on filling the holes that are inevitably there, whether they be in the product itself, customer service, the customer experience, website, sales strategy, or anywhere else. Your sales funnel doesn’t have to be perfect, but the more holes you can plug within the funnel the better your results will be. Advertising’s main purpose is to fill the funnel (yes, it helps the funnel in other ways, but awareness is its primary objective.) When you combine a more “watertight” funnel with a good method of filling it, you always end up with better results.
Marketing and advertising are critical resources no matter what the business is. But they will only be one part of a reason that a company has success and never the sole reason. Think of it this way: the sales funnel is the engine in a car. Marketing & advertising are just one piece and if one piece is broken, the rest of the engine won’t function properly.
If there are issues within the sales funnel, spending more on advertising won’t solve a client’s problem. In fact, any good advertiser should refuse to increase ad budget if that money could be used to address costly holes in a company’s product, service, or process. Advertisers should be invested in the long game: if the money that would have gone to ad spend can be used instead to increase the client’s overall revenue, the client’s expenses won’t go up and they’ll solve critical problems. Once the problem is solved, additional attention may then be paid to advertising.
Bottom line: advertising and marketing give you opportunities but it does not create success on their own. What you do for other people is baked into the fabric of your company and when you approach issues from a problem-solving perspective and develop products & services of a certain quality, marketing, and advertising open doors.
As advertising professionals, it’s morally right for us to share ideas and be frank with our clients about the issues that we see within the other components of the sales funnel. I refer to this as kind boldness. Even if those ideas don’t see an immediate profit for the advertising agency, everything works holistically. Sometimes, it’s about problem-solving alone. It’s also more enjoyable and easier to keep clients that you have these organic relationships with because insights and well-executed strategy make clients happy and feel like you are in their corner.
At Ethic Advertising Agency, we believe that what we do is a vital, important service. We make trust and relationships the center of our approach to our partnership. We like to serve as an extension of our clients’ teams because when we are collaborating, we’re matching the DNA of the organization and that drives better results. This often means, talking about solutions we don’t provide, and guiding companies to make what we believe is the best business decision even if it means they don’t use our services..yet…
This approach is inherent to our company’s identity. Often, we will take the time to do initial conversations without a fee because, while there isn’t always a financial benefit, there is a lot of value in helping and creating relationships. This is part of our culture and our own marketing strategy. We view our work not just as profitable but also as purposeful. It turns out, there are a lot of opportunities out there when you don’t expect anything in return.
When you put yourself out there as a giving thought leader, you make yourself a magnet and the more magnetized you are, the more opportunities you may have. The agency and its team have to open themselves up to those possibilities because it strengthens the business. This only works if you truly expect nothing in return and treat those situations as a pure gift, because the potential clients are giving you their time, and time is the most precious thing that we have.
The time that you invest in these relationships may not be immediately profitable, but people are very willing to revisit your organization when they finally do have the budget and structure for advertising or if they can refer you to someone they know looking for the services that you provide. When you have that giving mentality and can provide the work and results to back up your altruistic attitude, success will come in one form or another.
About Jeff Swartz
Jeff Swartz is the CEO and founder of Ethic Advertising Agency in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ethic is a hyper-targeted digital advertising and creative agency that specializes in video, animation, graphic design, and audio production. Digitally, Ethic also specializes in hyper-targeted programmatic (display, OTT, video pre-roll, digital audio), search engine marketing/pay per click, paid social media advertising, Google Grants, and native.
Ethic’s mission is to be a catalyst for happy, profitable partnerships through advertising and creative solutions. They also bring a holistic strategic approach to the table and still recommend and buy traditional advertising mediums when appropriate. It’s all about doing the right thing for their clients.
Follow Ethic on LinkedIn here.