Do you need advertising? Google, The Body Shop and Zara not!

Retail without advertising

Zara logoIf an European retail giant like Inditex (having brands like Zara, Pull and Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home, Uterqüe and Kiddy’s Class – boasting 3.914 stores in 70 countries) never ever uses advertising besides their shop buildings, shop windows and somewhat the websites, maybe you should neither.

The Body ShopAnother world wide retail brand without advertising is The Body Shop brand as Anita Roddick (founder) didn’t believe in advertising.
However she got dismissed as she should have started using advertising.

Success in retail is the most difficult to achieve as you need to address the masses: millions of people.
Companies in retail are spending signifcant parts of their revenue on their advertising. Thus not advertising can make a huge difference in profits.

B2B without advertising

Google logoIn B2B there are probably several examples of companies without advertising, but the most striking big brand name is certainly: Google.
Google is a service for consumers and business people, but sells an advertising service to businesses: AdWords that generates revenue for websites having AdSense.

Word of mouth

The secret of the success of Inditex: word of mouth advertising.
Read the story behind Inditex.
Their customers (mostly women) do show off their clothing they buy at fair prices, thus other people (women) will talk about them if they look great in them.
H&M logoAs competition is strong in the fashion market (retail), the success of Inditex is even more remarkable as their competitor H&M is all about advertising: the louder the better in order to stimulate word of mouth.
The competitive edge of Zara (Inditex) over H&M is their complete vertical integration: from design to sewing/stitching to distribution and selling allowing good quality for a fair price.

Although Google is in advertising, they really never have spent any significant amount of money on advertising: not online and not in print.
Google offers incredible free services, where people talk and blog about.
They spend significant amounts of money on free services that have created word of mouth. 

How you could not spend on advertising?

So how could you achieve the same without spending money on advertising?
For a start you need customers in order to start word of mouth.
Then these customers need to be very satisfied with your products, solutions or services in order to recommend them to others.

The problem is in your products:
Are your products remarkable enough to be talked about?
Probably not.
The cost to give away products for free will be too high, thus you need other means to get the word out.

Referrals, quotes, case studies, white papers, conferences and press releases

The problem with B2B products, solutions or services is that they are mainly used within the company walls. Thus no exposure to the world for your solutions.
This is the rule for most products used in business, except for a few products or services for marketing as they are being shown to others: like website design, trade show boots, marketing videos, …
In most cases people won’t show your business products to the world, but their own products made with your solutions.

This is why referrals, quotes and case studies are so important.
Use them on your website, in Press Releases, your newsletter and during conferences or trade shows.
They are worth every effort as obtaining the grant to use their logo and story will not be without effort.

Ask yourself: who of your customers could agree upon:
– to be used as reference in meetings?
– to have their logo on your website?
– to have a case study or white paper written about their application of your solution?
– to be mentioned in a press release?
– to present on a conference about their case study?
– to present on a conference organized by your company?
– to participate in a panel talk on a conference related to your solution?

Social media

If you get lucky, social media could get on your side of your brand.
Just do not count on this.
This blog occasionally gets bookmarked, but that has only a temporary effect.


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