Friday, December 14, 2007

It ain't so, Joe.

There are plenty of things I simply don’t understand. (The popularity of country music comes to mind. So does why I never learned to type with more than two fingers.) But one thing that baffles me is why people in business will invest thousands ― if not millions ― in a new company, a new product, a renovation or anything at all and then go on the cheap when it comes to promoting it.

Well, maybe “go on the cheap” is a little harsh, so I’ll rephrase it. “. . . and then don’t devote the resources necessary to protect their investment by promoting it to potential customers.”

We had a restaurant client recently that spent nine months and spared no expense on the build-out of their new place, then lamented that they had “no money at all” to promote it. And this was a restaurant new to the market, on a street with very little foot traffic in a highly competitive restaurant district. A tough sell all around. Maybe the money for the stainless steel beaded curtain for the cloak room could have been better spent on advertising or public relations.

You may have noticed the use of past tense here. The restaurant went out of business in three months.

One can never know for sure if “we don’t have any money for that” really means “we don’t have any money we want to spend on that”. My guess would be that at least some of the time, that’s the case. And there is a real argument to made for characterizing that approach as short-sighted ― spending money on something but not wanting to spend any money to tell potential customers you did it.

Now, I’m a big proponent of the “the smaller the budget, the bigger the idea has to be” school of thinking. Our agency specializes in challenger brands, and that kind of thinking is inherent in our approach. But there are limits. You have to have some money to apply to the problem. There is an appropriate spending ratio of your investment to promoting your investment.

My point here is that advertising, promotion, marketing or whatever the hell you want to call it isn’t something you bolt onto a project when the construction is done. Protect your investment. Budget from the very beginning an appropriate amount of money to devote to telling potential customers how nice your new hotel is, how wonderful the renovations are, how great your new restaurant is, or how zippity-doo-dah your computer repair service is. Whatever. It’s not an afterthought. It’s as important to your success as hiring the right construction manager.

“If you build it, he will come” only works in the movies.


Kim said...

Three words: Rocky Gap Resort.

Eric said...

I had a computer software store that had just about opened inquire about advertising, after looking at the advertising costs decide that they'd do a "Soft opening" before their grand opening.

Yeah the grand opening never happened. they softly went out of business.