Sunday, May 10, 2009

The unbelievable & horrifying truth

After toiling in the trenches for years at various advertising agencies, I recently opened up my own business - a barbershop. So far things are going well - everyday we are servicing more customers than the day before, people are leaving happy, those coming in say that their friends told them about it, etc. Fairly gratifying thus far.

And as someone who worked in advertising for 13 years, and always did so at agencies that believed that smart, challenging brand communications that blazed trails in heretofore un-plowed media terrain were ultimately the only way to build your business, I have some news to report.

It's bullshit.

Now, I'll admit we've only been open for 10 days, and we have a long road to trod yet. I also admit that we are going to do some advertising sooner rather than later. But what I have discovered so far is a couple of things that will horrify all you practitioners of craft who stay at the office late in thrall of your bosses, tirelessly digging for that pure, original message that some client can ruin by slapping an exclamation point on. Those couple things I've discovered are this:

1.) The best advertising is positive word of mouth.

2.) Direct mail works.

There it is. I leave you now to writhe in agony and question your place in the grand scheme of things.


Matthew Bottkol said...


Jeff said...

I agree that word of mouth is definitely the best advertising for small businesses. I worked for Hernia Movers for about 12 years and I think they ran one radio ad while I was there. Almost every customer was a repeat, recommended, or thought the name was funny in Yellow Pages.