For most people who see, hear, or read your advertising, The Answer is No.

And that is okay.

Today we are going to talk about realistic expectations when it comes to advertising and marketing.  Some of the people who sell advertising are not going to like what I am about to share, but that is okay too.

By the way, this article was inspired by a conversation I had with my friend Dennis last week and also by an article by Seth Godin, where he talks about why negative reviews are sometimes okay.

Often advertising sales people will tell you about how many people will see or hear your advertisement, which may have an element of truth to it, but you need to understand what that number represents and what it really means in relationship to your business.

First some numbers:

Those people in the outdoor advertising business that sell billboard signs that you see along the side of the road usually use the estimated traffic count of how many vehicles drive by that section of road per day.  They then do some math and multiply that number of vehicles by 1.5 passengers and tell you that your ad will be seen by all these thousands of people.

Television stations, radio stations, they both get ratings numbers from an outside company that estimates how many listeners or viewers a station has.  Again, there are hundreds, even thousands of people that are watching or listening, right?

Some media and advertising companies use a different kind of method, like the phone book companies would say that they reach the entire population of your city.  These days we know from our own behavior, that the percentage of people who take that phone book and immediately toss it in the trash grows every year.

Digital advertising has some track-ability to it but it’s a flawed system too.

But I’m not here to discourage you from advertising, so I better return to the topic, the headline of this piece which is The Answer is No.

What in the world am I talking about?

I’ll tell you.

For the majority of the people that your advertising message is exposed to, the answer right then and there is no.  They are not going to buy your stuff at that moment.  Just because I see or hear an advertisement or marketing message for you and your company, I am not going to immediately react and spend money with you right then and there.

And that’s okay.

Your business is not capable of handling all the potential customers that your advertising reaches at the moment your advertising message is seen or heard.

Can your restaurant handle 30,000 customers at lunch today?

Can your auto repair shop take care of 100 new customers tomorrow?

If everyone that sees or hears your advertising this week wanted to become your customer would that be a blessing or a nightmare? 

Fortunately only a fraction of the people will become your customer at any given time.

Each have their own reason too.

I went thru this exercise with my friend Dennis who owns a service business.  Dennis has a goal of how many customers he wants to add to his business this year and he’s a little short.  And he also has a couple of slow months coming up where his main goal is to stay in business.  He’s pretty smart about it and knows the up and down months so he plans for them.  That’s part of his success.

I presented him with an idea using my radio station, WOWO radio in Fort Wayne, Indiana, that can help him fill up the rest of his year and also transform those slow months into busier months.  I wrote three words on a paper and asked him where he was right now with my idea.

Those words were:




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Yes meant we would take the next step to implement my idea.

Maybe meant there were still questions and things to consider.

No meant no way.

Then I added a few letters to the word no on the paper and changed the No to

Not Yet

That’s where Dennis really is right now.

There are a couple of items that need to be taken care of first, like adding to his team and training his new employees.  Then we will look at the timing and see if my idea can be implemented.

Consumers go through this all the time.

Just because someone who sees or hears your ad doesn’t say Yes right now, you  might think they are saying No.

Some of them are really saying Maybe or Not Yet.

And that’s okay.

4 answers


The reason you need to advertise long term or more than once is to continue to reach those who are saying Maybe, and Not Yet, because they will often say Yes one day.

Want help with your marketing plans and advertising? Let’s connect.