As a Small Business Are You Just Winking at a Girl in the Dark?

The title of Stuart Henderson Britt’s 1978 book is heavy: Psychological Principles of Marketing and Consumer Behavior. And its content, clearly directed at an academic audience, is heavier still. Indeed, Britt was one of the pioneers who explored in-depth the “why” behind how consumers behave, which, of course, in turn has had a profound influence on how advertising and marketing has been done over the last 30 years.

But sometimes buried in all of that heavy-duty Dark academia style-speak is a gem of clear-sighted practicality like this: “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.”

Now, while I certainly agree with the essence of Britt’s quote, I would quibble with his seeming focus just on advertising. If I could replace the word “advertising” with the word “marketing,” I’d be happy.

I wish I had a dime for every time I heard a small business owner say something like:

“Advertising is so expensive, we just can’t afford it right now.”

“I don’t have time to listen to all of those media reps, I’ve got a business to run.”

“I don’t understand all of that marketing mumbo-jumbo anyway, so I just ignore it.”

But if it is true that a business needs customers to survive, let alone prosper: and if marketing’s one and only function is to bring customers through the door. Then, for small businesses especially, marketing – which includes advertising and other forms of promotion – can not be a when-we-can-afford-it or when-we-have-time-for-it option, it has to be a survival imperative.


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Category: business