When Is It Important to Be Second Choice?

When is it important to be second choice? When you’re not the first choice.

Look at growing your business this way. Your objective is to become the second choice of everybody who’s not doing business with you now, everybody with whom you’re not already first choice. Why? Because things will change.

Often, when companies make changes, it’s not good for their suppliers, and some of their customers don’t like the changes. Some of your competitors will change ownership, change personnel, change customer policies, maybe change prices. Some will relocate. Some will go out of business entirely. Since nobody’s perfect, all your competitors will make mistakes.

When such things happen, competitors are vulnerable. Some customers look for alternatives, but that’s too late for unknown brands to pop into their heads. The brands they’ll consider are the ones they already know of. To be considered, brands must already be in their minds.

If you’ve been advertising consistently, there’s a good chance you’ll be the next choice.

A client recently said, “We’ve advertised on billboards for five years. Why do we still need them?”

To build brand awareness, the most important factors in advertising are Reach (who and how many people will see or hear your advertising), Frequency (how many times they’ll see or hear it), and how much it costs per thousand people to see or hear it.

In this case, the client wants his brand to be known by adults in certain areas of the city. His billboards cover those areas, and it only costs about $5 for every thousand people who see them. It would cost about $15 per thousand to reach adults on TV, and up to $60 per thousand to reach adults in prime time.

During the five years of this client’s advertising, the market has changed. People have moved away. Others died. Others have moved to town, and others are five years older and have become adults. The market churns constantly.

Whether your prospects are consumers or other businesses, when they consider changing who to buy from, they have to know who you are. They may consider several choices. If they don’t know your brand, you can’t even get on their lists. If you’re a top-of-mind second choice, they may not even bother to consider others.

Nothing in business is more fundamentally simple than advertising. If you say the right thing to the right people at the right time, almost nothing else matters. Most important, though, is that you keep saying it: over and over, year after year.

Too many advertisers say, “We’ve already done that. We’ve already said that.” So they advertise inconsistently.

Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop.

New cream rises to the top of every market every day. Advertising can build brand awareness, but only advertising consistently can sustain awareness. Without awareness, you aren’t likely to be anybody’s second choice.

Your favorite lunch spot closes. Somebody suggests another place. All reply, “Never heard of it. Let’s just go next door."


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