It’s estimated that Americans are exposed to 5,000 advertisements per day. If you’re 30 years old, your brain has processed over 54 million ads. With that type of exposure, advertising is something with which we’re all familiar. We all know about advertising agencies too, thanks to shows like Mad Men. However, they say familiarity breeds contempt, and what many people think about advertising and ad agencies may be based on false impressions and fabricated ideas fraught with fiction and myth.
If you’re a business owner, a negative reaction to advertising and advertising agencies could prevent your company from realizing its full potential, and that would be a shame. So we’re going to list and then dispel five common advertising myths.
Myth 1 – Advertising is unethical and manipulative
Your grandpa may have told you this, and he may have been marginally correct, if he was thinking of ads from 50 years ago. Since the Federal Trade Commission opened its doors in 1915, it has protected consumers from unethical and manipulative ads, and it’s gotten better and more efficient with time. Today, anyone producing false or misleading advertising, no matter how large or small the company, should know that the FTC loves prosecuting fraud cases in court, where it usually wins a LOT of money.
Myth 2 – It’s impossible to target a small, local market
Again, this was absolutely true in your grandpa’s day, but not in 2017. Years ago, you could pay for a radio or TV ad and your message would reach a large number of people, but only a few in your target audience; it was called broadcasting for a reason. Today, with most consumers on mobile devices and an increasing availability of location data, geo-targeting is allowing companies to effectively advertise locally to small, specific groups.
Myth 3 – A company’s public relations department can handle advertising
Yes, and I’m going to have my auto mechanic remove my appendix because he’s good at fixing things. Public relations focuses on the communication between a company and those who can disseminate information, like newspapers or media outlets. While public relations is a crucial component of advertising, companies using their PR department as their sole means of advertising are severely limiting their exposure.
Myth 4 – Ad agencies can’t do anything I can’t do myself
That may be true, providing you have a degree in art, writing, design, public relations, media, web development, and marketing. You’ll also need to spend considerable time staying current on posting to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin, including the production of videos. Don’t forget that you’ll need to keep your website updated, create and send e-blast promotions, produce radio and TV ads, and make media buys. Where will you find the time to run your company?
Myth 5 – A good product doesn’t need to advertise, it sells itself
Advertising doesn’t sell a product; it sells a feeling, a lifestyle, a story, an emotional connection to a product. Most people couldn’t tell you why they buy the things they do, but it’s probably not because the product is rated the best. You drink a well-known soda, rather than a store brand, because it conjures nostalgic images; you use a particular soap because it’s what your parents used; you prefer a certain fast food establishment because it’s always equated with having fun. The reason people prefer one product over another, usually has little to do with quality, and everything to do with perception.
In the vast sea of misinformation, it’s important to remember that hiring an ad agency means creating relationships with a team of professionals who will listen and learn everything about your company to help you achieve your goals.