Prefer to listen instead of read?  Here’s the podcast version of today’s article:

I was talking to two friends recently in separate conversations who have both decided to spend $4000 this year on an advertising program that I believe is pretty stupid.

It’s not their fault, not really.  They were charmed by the salesperson, into buying something as their primary advertising vehicle for the year that should only be considered as a secondary advertising vehicle, if at all.

What do I mean by primary versus secondary advertising vehicles?

Let’s talk a second about primary versus secondary transportation vehicles as an example.

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, our annual weather includes all 4 seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  If you decide to spend $15,000 on a new Honda motorcycle, you can get a pretty fun and sweet ride, great gas millage and your friends will be jealous.

Unless that motorcycle is your only transportation vehicle, then your friends and family will likely question your sanity.  Why?

Because despite the coolness of riding a bike in great weather, it’s going to really suck to drive that two wheeler in nasty weather.  In Fort Wayne, we get both.  I was just looking at the weather almanac for March and we had temperatures in the 70’s and in the teens.  Sunshine and snow in the same week. One day we had a high in the 60’s but we also had snow in the same 24 hours.

Perhaps you justified the purchase of your motorcycle on the gas millage and price.  But odds are you are going to fork over another 5 grand for clothing and gear and you are going to be miserable riding when we have an ice storm and you just need to get to work alive.

Motorcycles in this part of the country should never be your primary transportation vehicle in most circumstances.   Agree?

By the way as a point of comparison, if you really want a Honda as your primary transportation vehicle, you can get a new one for around $20K that has four wheels, looks cool, doesn’t’ require a helmet and you can drive in nearly any weather conditions.

See if the difference between primary and secondary transportation vehicles?

Now here’s what my two friends did:

They signed contracts to advertise on grocery carts.  Cost is about $4000 for the year plus extras, like the cost of getting an add designed and who knows what else.

My one friend, Dave, was so mad about having to spend $250 to get an ad designed that he didn’t like he decided to crowd source his Facebook friends for suggestions on how to improve the ad he spent money on. As I watched the suggestions, many were good but there was one thing everyone was missing out on, which I will get to in a moment.

My other friend, Leslie, is a realtor.  She is like most realtors, they don’t spend much to advertise except doing what all the other realtors do and that’s why it’s hard to determine which realtor to use if you don’t have a favorite.

Leslie was talked into the grocery cart ads despite a couple of things that immediately caught my attention.  First of all, the grocery store that will feature her ads is not in the neighborhood that she wants to build her business.  Let me ask you, if you want to invite people to do business with you, would you target people that you don’t want as your primary customers?

I know that there are plenty of rules and regulations prohibiting discrimination in the housing industry, but this is different.  This is taking your money and reaching new people and inviting them to be your customer. You get to decide and unfortunately she signed on the dotted line that the sweet talking advertising salesperson presented her.

My other friend, Dave also signed on the dotted line that the same sweet talking advertising salesperson presented him and almost immediately regretted it.  Designing an ad isn’t his area of expertise.  He’s fantastic at technical stuff, I’ve paid him money a few times to fix my computer issues.  But Dave was getting frustrated because even he could design a better ad than the experts he paid.

But here’s the issue that really bothered me.  Most of the people seeing his ad in the grocery cart aren’t going to care that Dave and his company fixes computers.  They might see the ad for a split second before the place their toddler or purse in the seat in the cart and cover up the ad.

So I stopped in and talked to Dave about this and that’s how I got his background story and he is not only frustrated with the creative process but nervous that it will actually bring him any new business.

We call this Return On Investment or R.O.I. and we’ll tackle the R.O.I. subject in the near future.

My conversation with Dave was to help him attempt to make a bad advertising decision a little better.  Remember, I have no skin in the game, I just saw what was going on and offered him a professional opinion and advice, since he was already locked in to advertising on grocery carts for the next 12 months.

Better take a picture before you set your purse or toddler in the seat! You can click on this picture and visit his website right now,

What did I tell him?  I walked him through the scenario I already mentioned to you, and he agreed, in most cases the shoppers will only see his ad for a second, not the entire length of time they are shopping, (which is what he’d been sold).  I told Dave to add a word bubble that will capture someones attention with a call to action that they can do right now.  The word bubble says, “Snap a Picture for Later”.

When I need my laptop fixed, I need to know who I can trust.  I need to know at the very moment who I can contact.  I’ll tell you what I’m not going to do.  I’m not going to hop in my car and go to the grocery store and look for that ad I might have seen a couple weeks ago to get the contact info for Dave’s company.

However, when my wife or daughter are about to place their purses in the cart to start shopping, odds are they will have their phones handy and can “Snap a Picture for Later”.

While I still don’t believe this should ever be a primary advertising vehicle, it could be a secondary way of reinforcing and reminding those potential customers that you are around.

What do you think?  Have you ever bought responded to a grocery cart ad?  Your thoughts are always welcome.