Does Advertising Work? Yes, But Only Once

Tuesday, March 14, 2017 | Jeff Davis

Does advertising work?

Of course advertising works.

But only once. Let me explain why.

Face it. There are only three types of customers in most businesses. Those who are Very Satisfied. They stick with you through thick and thin, and you would have to practically beat them off with a stick to get them to go somewhere else. We all strive to have more of these customers.

Then there are people who are Never Satisfied. Never. Nothing is ever good enough. They complain about everything. When they come in the door you are thinking, "Here is a $5 coupon, please go across the street to the competition."

But most of your customers fall into the Somewhat Satisfied category. They are mostly happy with your service, but not 100%.They are susceptible to considering other offers. Especially if they are feeling under appreciated or ignored. If the right offer comes along at the right time, they will consider trying someone else.

Advertising to this segment will get your business a trial. The consumer will come in looking to see if you are any better than the company they are currently doing business with. If you are clearly better, congratulations, you have a new customer. But if you tie, you loose. "I may not be completely happy with my current provider, but at least I know what to expect." Change is difficult. It took a lot of time and energy to choose my current provider, so in order to give up this relationship, I need to clearly see that the change is better.

So advertising will work to get you a trial, but if you blow it, it will be a long time before the customer will give you another chance. 

If you are a YMCA consider the following. Your members have a choice. There are other facilities with weight training equipment. Swimming pools. Adult Sports. Zumba classes. So why do some people choose the Y, while other choose 24 hour fitness? Certainly price is one consideration.

But perhaps more importantly, service is another. Where would you rather spend your time? In a gym where you are greeted by a warm smile and a sincere greeting. Or a facility where you are ignored and treated as an imposition? 

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I have YMCAs contact me asking, "What are we going to do? A new 24 hour fitness is opening down the street!"

My advice is a be a YMCA. When I think of the YMCA, I think of Danielle greeting me as I come into the facility "Hi Mr. Davis!" Please call me Jeff. "OK Mr. Davis. Need a towel?" I think of the swimming pool where my kids learned to swim. Where I played racket ball with my sons. Are there less expensive options? I am sure there are, but price doesn't motivate me when it comes to spending time with my family. Memories, smiles and being a part of a like minded community does motivate me.

People will spend money on the things they are passionate about and will strive to save money on things they are not passionate about. This is why people who drive a new Mercedes will shop at Costco for toilet paper. (For a great read on how passion directs our behavior, read - Trading Up The New American Luxury by Michael J Silverstein and Neil Fiske.)

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You are never going to be a 24 hour fitness, so stop trying. Focus on the behavior that make a "Y" a Y. Spend your energy on making sure you are keeping your current Very Satisfied clientele thrilled. And find a way to move your Somewhat Satisfied customers into the Very Satisfied category. (When was the last time you sent your customers a member survey and asked them how you are doing? You might be surprised.)

Spend your marketing dollars advertising to people who look like your current Very Satisfied clients. Not defectors who opt to join the 24 hour fitness center. Odds are they never were a perfect fit, or perhaps something has changed in their life that no longer makes them a fit (new job, new hours, divorce, kids left the house, etc.).

Harry Beckwith said it best in Selling the Invisible. "First, before you write an ad, rent a list, dash off a press release - fix your service."

Do you have "Never Satisfied" employees servicing your customers? Can you really afford this to happen?  

If you would like to hear more about finding new customers who look like your best customers, give us a call at 419-776-7000 or click below.

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