For a business owner, advertising can be a confusing place to play. So, before we meet your options, let’s define what advertising is.

Marketing is everything that touches a customer.

Advertising is a sub-category of marketing.

Advertising is when you pay to have your message delivered to potential buyers.

Advertising is made up of the message and the delivery vehicle. 

The delivery vehicle can be, radio, TV, newspaper, magazines, word-of-mouth (YES, word-of-mouth comes at a cost), flyers, brochures, landmark location (Rent is advertising), business cards, Facebook ads and other social media platforms, banner ads, billboards, signage both shop and vehicles, BNI & Chamber of Commerce membership, bus shelters and the back and sides of buses, Grandma wearing a sandwich board, promotional products and your website.

The list is endless and growing daily.

So really, ALL businesses advertise in some way. Even the ones that say they don’t.

Today, we are going to look specifically at Mass Media options, think radio, TV, newspaper and magazines.

The Four Advertising Message Options

No Ads 

Deciding not to advertise is an option.

I get it, advertising is scary if you don’t know what you are doing. So deciding not to advertise is okay.

You can choose not to advertise for any of the following reasons.

  • You have no money. So you spend your time instead.
  • You have no confidence. You don’t know how it works.
  • You tried advertising, but it didn’t work. You don’t want to get burnt again.
  • You are comfortable with your current sales. But, comfortable is a dangerous place to sit.

Upside: You spend no money or time thinking about advertising.

Downside: You don’t get to visit the bank with bags of money.

Because unless you have a

  • remarkable business or a
  • landmark location or
  • weak competitors,

without advertising your business stays small.

So, if you want to grow, study advertising or hire someone who has a solid track of advertising success.

Note: A remarkable business is like a powerful magnet attracting buyers without any apparent reason. But like a magnet, the magic is happening unseen. If you have created a magnetic business, your sales will be big without advertising. Customers will throw money at you, books will tell your story. University marketing students will study your awesomeness. You’ll end up on the talk show circuit. I wouldn’t bet your childern’s future on creating a remarkable business.

Sale Ads 

You’ll find Sale Ads at the singles bar looking for a good time. These are the most common ads you see running for local businesses.

Sale Ads are product-focused, offer a discount and have a limited time frame. 

Think 3-day sale,

the boss is away sale,

scratch and dent sale,

stock clearance sale,

(insert holiday) sale,

never to be repeated sale,

birthday sale,

closing day sale,

reopening sale,

look at me doing silly things in a grass skirt sale.

Deep in the cellar of the local radio and TV station is someone whose sole job is to make up names for sales. It’s a busy job.

Like meth, Sale Ads are addictive. Buyers visit your business and make your cash register do a little jig. You get high for three days. Then buyers disappear. You suffer withdrawal. So, you plan another sale. And another. And another.

Upside: Sale Ads are easy to write. You create activity and move stock and give away balloons. You have 15-mins of fame. Radio and TV reps love you.

Downside: Most people are not in the market for what you sell that day. And the ones who do, need to hear/see/read your ad that day. Which means you are battling with every business that sells and discounts what you sell on that day.

It’s like being in a gaggle of five years olds shouting look at me, pick me, look at me, pick me. Competitors push you in the back and drop their pants to win a sale.

Sale Ads attract transactional buyers. Buyers who don’t want to pay full price. These buyers don’t visit again until you have another sale. Like meth, run too many sales and your teeth fall out. Think Tiger King’s first husband. Not that there’s anything wrong with a toothless husband.

There are times when you need to have a sale, just don’t overdo it.

Branding Ads

Local Branding Ads are inward-facing. They are like the bore at a party wearing a beige suit who only wants to talk about himself.

Branding Ads tell listeners and viewers, (1) their business name, (2) where the business is located, and (3) what the business has to offer.

Plus stuff like best service,

competitive prices,


for all your (fill in your category) needs,


conveniently located,

mention this ad for a free doughnut or 10% off or whatever,

(fill in town name)’s best-kept secret.

Upside: Branding Ads are easy to write. No thinking needed. You copy what everyone else is saying and then insert your business name. Branding ads can work if you have competitors that don’t advertise. Because, in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king.

If you are a media rep, Branding Ad scripts are easy to get approved. Because the ad is all about the advertiser. They love them.

Downside: Local Branding Ads taste like cardboard and offer no nutritional value. They look and sound like ads. Frightened to stand out, they wear camouflage and hide. Branding Ads are like stocking stuffers, cheap, not relevant and easy to forget. To make them work you need truck loads of repetition which means shit loads of money. However, nearly all Branding Ads run on schedules too diluted to have any impact.

Note: Copywriters turn pale and vomit a little in their mouths when asked to write local Branding Ads. So give them beer and pizza to help overcome their writing reluctance.

Of the four options, Branding Ads are the ones I would not recommend.

Bonding Ads

If you think of Sale Ads as a one night stand, Bonding Ads are like a long-term relationship.

Bonding Ads are storytellers, entertaining, emotive and fun. They enter the room from a swinging chandelier and attract attention through surprise and delight. But then they shine the spotlight on the buyer and make them the star.

Bonding Ads say, “Enough about me, tell me more about you.” They offer listeners an oasis in the desert of Branding and Sale Ads.

Bonding Ads find the buyer before they need your business. Over time your ads build a relationship. Buyers think of you first and feel best about you when they or any of their friends need what you sell.

Bonding Ads attract the relational buyer. These people are looking for an expert they can trust. They have more money than time. They are more profitable customers.

Upside: Bonding Ads help turn your small business into big business. Because the longer you run Bonding Ads, the better they work. For all the accounting types, that means increased ROI and sexy looking bar charts.

Buyers who call or visit your business are already 90% sold. You and your staff now need to only give them the last 10%, and you have the sale.

Once you have a customer, Bonding Ads nurture the relationship and remind them to return and buy more.

But wait there’s more!

Bonding Ads help reduce your Google Ads spend.

Amazing but true.

Below is an excerpt from the Monday Morning Memo by Roy H. Williams, “Radio Verses Pay-Per-Click.” Ken Goodrich, mentioned is one of Roy’s clients.

Ken Goodrich is the owner of Goettl (rhymes with kettle) Air Conditioning in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Tucson.

“My cost of lead generation for A/C system replacement was about $441 per lead, roughly the national average for my category, until I cut my online budget by half and moved all that money into 52-week radio.”

Two years later, the sales volume of my 78-year-old company had more than doubled, and my cost per online lead these days bounces around between $39 and $47.”

Ken Goodrich went on to make it clear that his customers are still going online before they call him. Some of them are reading reviews, and some are just looking for his phone number, but most are typing the name of their city and “air conditioning” into the Google search string. Goettl Air Conditioning pops up, of course, alongside all its competitors. But unlike the other companies listed in those search results, Goettl leaps off the screen. “Hey! I know those guys!” says the prospective customer. Goettl gets the click, the call, and the sale.””

What Ken didn’t mention in the above was that he was running Bonding Ads on his 52-week radio campaign. Not Branding Ads. Not Sale Ads. But Bonding Ads.

You can read the full article here.

Note: I swapped a couple of Facebook messages with Ken this week. Ken told me he was celebrating his first One Million Dollar Day ever. Smack bang in the most significant upheaval in our lifetime Ken is hitting records.

Downside: Bonding Ads are hard to write, and they take longer to work.

You can’t get minute by minute click and impression statistics, like you can with online advertising. Instead, you measure success in gross sales, and year on year growth. So if you need to see numbers and other cool stuff that you’ll never use, don’t run Bonding Ads or use mass media.

Bonding Ads don’t sound like ads, which means your well-meaning family and friends will tell you not to run them. You must learn to thank them for their advice and run them anyway.

And be prepared for the Knuckleheads. Knuckleheads will complain on social media that they hate your ads. Ignore the knuckleheads then smile big as you serve the line of happy paying customers.

Bonding Ads create an emotional expectation about you and your business. Fail to deliver that expectation, and you disappoint the buyer and lose the sale. So make sure all your staff is singing from the same songbook as your advertising.

If you want a quick fix and more sales TODAY, don’t run bonding ads. If you aren’t committed to your bonding campaign, you’ll chicken out in the first few months and waste your money.

You need to be courageous to run bonding ads. 

There you go.

The four advertising message choices you have when advertising your small business.

Choose wisely.

Until next time.

Work hard and have fun.