Why Too Much Advertising Can Hold Back Business Growth

We all know that companies advertise their products or services to let potential customers know about their brand and what they have for sale.

But, there is such a thing as too much advertising? Call it information overload, the nearsightedness on the part of marketers, or anything else you want, the reality is, people hate ads.

We’re all bombarded with ads in our daily lives with everything from bus stop ads and billboards to television commercials and digital advertising. Because there are ads everywhere we turn, consumers are both frustrated and desensitized – not exactly what marketers are aiming for!

But, there is a solution that’s much more powerful than ad blockers and that may even be able to drive success – fewer ads.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Using fewer ads doesn’t necessarily mean shrinking sales – just look at what happened with Proctor and Gamble.
  • Too much advertising, on the other hand, can turn people away.
  • Offering more value-driven content instead of more ads demonstrates your commitment to the customer.

The Procter & Gamble Example

In my book, Mean People Suck, I talk a lot about taking a customer-centric approach and focusing on the value your company provides to customers as the way to drive growth rather than using a brand or product-centric model.

One of the reasons I believe customer-centricity is so important is that if we’re not focusing on the customer, we’re losing touch with the core reasons why we’re in business in the first place.

You don’t want to lose your why.

A big part of being customer-centric is shifting from ads that try to remind customers of your products – over and over again – to marketing content that provides value and improves the lives of your customers in some way.

I came across an interesting article in Ad Age while putting together the book that talks about how P&G, one of the largest consumer product companies in the US, experienced an increase in organic sales when they cut their marketing budget and spent fewer dollars on ads.

The company saw its most significant growth in sales in a five-year period the same quarter that it cut its marketing budget by six percent.

This isn’t that much of a shocker if you look at the research on consumer sentiment regarding ads. The Advertising Research Foundation has found that sales start decreasing after an ad reaches the same person 40 times within one month. Basically, enough is enough.

Why Too Much Advertising Is a Problem

One of the reasons too much advertising may be turning consumers away is simply the larger number of advertising channels in use today. With the introduction of the digital advertising space, the exposure has spiraled out of control. We’re not just seeing ads placed in the newspaper or on TV. They’re glaring at us when we read online articles, newsletter emails, and social media.

Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Proctor & Gamble said in a recent New York Times article that ads are generally irrelevant anyway – sometimes they’re “just silly, ridiculous, or stupid.” Pritchard sums up this overwhelming issue well when he says, “We tried to change the advertising ecosystem by doing more ads, and all that did was create more noise.”

The other issue is customer expectation. Customers – both B2C and B2B – expect to be able to research a product or service before they buy. They want to compare reviews, learn how a product works, and they want to know they have a resource available to help them get the most out of their purchase once they’ve made the investment.

What they want is helpful content.

Give People Value and They’ll See the Value in Your Brand

As I mention in the book, consumers don’t want you to keep reminding them that your product is amazing. Sure, companies have infinite options when it comes to pushing promotional material – text ads, website pop-ups, Snapchat, Instagram, podcast ads, the list is so long.

But, this doesn’t mean playing the numbers game and using all, or even most of these channels will help you reach your sales goals. And, in the process, you could end up spending a huge amount of money on promotions that could have been spent on something that offers a better return on investment: content.

If they are going to spend a precious few seconds or minutes of their time focusing on your brand, consumers want something out of it. They want what’s useful and interesting to them.

That’s where content fits in and helps us solve the too much advertising dilemma.

Instead of spending a lot of money purchasing ads for a dozen different channels and trying to maintain your presence, with content marketing, you focus on the channels where your customers prefer to spend time, create content that will add value to their lives, and make it available.

That content can then do its job, delivering value and boosting your brand, for years.

The fact is, 73% of people prefer to get information about an organization through reading articles rather than traditional advertising, and 68 percent do spend time reading content from the brands they’re interested in.

People like engaging content that speaks to their needs and wants. When they are able to evaluate a company in their own time through their preferred medium, they develop trust in a brand and are motivated to make a purchase when they’re ready.

Being relentlessly reminded of a brand’s existence is annoying. Reading an interesting article or learning something insightful from an infographic is thought-provoking. This is what inspires action.

People do engage with brand stories. Instead of relying heavily on paid advertising, give them content that they want to engage with. That’s a much more effective way to be memorable.

So what do you think? Please consider picking up your copy of Mean People Suck today, and get the bonus visual companion guide as well. Or check out our services to help evolve your culture. And I would be thrilled to come present to your team on the power of empathy!

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.