When Trinidad And Tobago Businesses Advertise Locally They Get the End of the Stick with Doo-Doo


As a small cosmopolitan emerging market with strong economy and a population of 1.3 million people Trinidad and Tobago is an ideal model to showcase the development of  information industries.

The local advertising industry specifically, has not kept pace with what is accepted as normal in the more developed markets.

It is accepted that media advertising is an indispensable revenue generating tool for most businesses.   In fact, every year local businesses shell out literally billions of dollars to advertise their products and services.

Ninety percent of those dollars spent on advertising is never leveraged.  The professionals in the industry continue to prey on the ignorance of their clients.  Well “prey” might be a bit harsh word to use when most of the clients run like lambs to the slaughter, money in hand to purchase full page newspaper ads or high frequency TV ads at premium prices.  And most of them know exactly what they want because it’s their money and their business.

All of the media establishments to include all the local daily and weekly newspapers, radio, television, advertising agencies, and magazines sell high priced, ineffective advertising.  Truth is that they should all be forgiven, for they know not what they do.  Only in a rare exception are advertising results measured.

Businesses and individuals purchase advertisements for one reason and one reason only; to sell, rent or some how enter into a transaction with their targeted consumers.

There are the exceptions as in the case of well known companies using it to maintain their brand, image or top of mind awareness   For example, RBTT, First Citizen’s Bank  or in the case of large international conglomerates like Pepsi and Coca Cola.

Then there are extraordinary exceptions where government ministries advertise their programme with out any intention of generating revenue or acquiring employees.  It is extraordinary that the responsible authorities would take out a full page ad to inform the pubic of the existence of something like the CEPEP programme.  Questions are rarely raised.

Every ad will work to some degree because many products have pent up demands that can easily be accessed by advertising.  But what happens when that pent up demand is satisfied.  That’s where the rubber meets the road, when there is need for more scientific advertising.

It is here that most of the high priced advertising campaigns fail.  The following are three examples that support this position:

  1. Most advertisers do not measure or test the effectiveness of any of the ads they produce.  According to one advertising agency, the onus is on the buyer to test.  This, even though the agencies are solely responsible for the creative development of the ad.
  2. One ad, the same ad, is used for over 10 years and is repeated a minimum of 10 times daily on prime time television.  For example, the Diana JubJub series of ads with local celebrity Nikki Crosby.  Word is that the same ads have been running on local TV for at least the last 10 years.  The retort is usually’ “it works”.  The unanswered questions are” Could it work better?  Could the investment be leveraged in a more?
  3. A small company in a remote part of the country takes out a national display ad for a product or service that can be accessed at a number of outlets across the country.  This is a case where a more effective and less costly advertising tactics would have been to distribute flyers or use loud speakers.  But the newspaper or TV would not be paid when that happens.

Those are just three examples of how advertisers are not providing optimum services to their clients. Yes, it does assume that every advertising professional has the requisite knowledge and understanding of how advertising works.  But that’s a big assumption.

They should know about testing; headlines, copy, content, art work and graphics.  They should know about measuring inquiries, responses, phone calls and sales conversions for each ad they produce.  They should know that paid “focus groups” hardly ever produce any data relevant to the success of their ads.  Measuring the effectiveness of an ad is just as important as creating the ad.

They should know the difference between direct response advertising and institutional advertising.  If they don’t; you should fire or not hire them.  In fact, if they have never read or heard about the advertising classic by Claude Hopkins “Scientific Advertising” you should run the other way.  You could save yourself thousands in advertising dollars.

The responsibility should not be the client’s to test and measure the effectiveness of the ads; that should be included in the cost of the ad.    It is a dereliction of responsibility when media houses and ad agencies create and publish an ad for one client then move on to the next.

But in an ironic sort of way, they’re right.  The agencies and media houses are not spending the money, they are in business too.  It is more profitable for the industry to continue to operate the way it has for umpteen years, the only losers are their clients.  Most clients don’t mind because they get customers and like many would say “I’m all set”.

If you are a business owner who has been placing ads in the local media, it’s time to start asking some serious questions.   In fact, before taking out their next ad, businesses should read a copy of Claude Hopkins’s Scientific Advertising.  It is available online for free.

If you are interested in more information on advertising your business and want to know what the media house and other advertisers would not tell you.  Subscribe and get a free copy  of a  27 page Special Report entitled “10 Ways To Write More Effective Ads”  Go here to subscribe.


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27 Dec 2016


By Tony Puckerin
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