The Lie You’ve Been Told About Advertising

By: Dave Dee on: April 22nd, 2014 9 Comments

“It’s not about selling, it’s about image and building their brand.”

That was what one of our GKIC copywriters, Cindy Cyr, was told by her sales manager back when she sold advertising for a regional magazine.

Cindy says this was the training given to all of the ad sales people—that they were instructed to tell business owners that what they should be doing with their ad dollars is creating ads to build their brand.

If you’ve placed any ads in publications or worked with an ad agency, you most likely have been fed that line yourself.

Ad agencies, college marketing professors and media sales people tell people to “get your name out there.” That the purpose of your ad is to “build your brand.” And that you should “Do image advertising” so that customers will recognize your company. The theory being that once recognized, consumers will automatically buy from you.

But the truth is this is a lie.

What you really should be doing is using direct response marketing to sell to customers  to build your brand.  This allows you to generate a profit right away from your advertising dollars AND build a powerful brand. The other way requires you to spend a bundle on brand-building first with no return on your advertising dollars spent and may or may not build a lasting brand.

The reason for this lie? It’s an idea that dates back to a time when you could create a lot of excitement with an “image” or brand-building ad because you might be the only dentist…or car repair shop…or clothing store, etc. in the area.

However, today the marketplace is quite different.

That means it takes a ton of advertising (and a ton of money) to get your brand recognized. And while that strategy can still be a good one for the right company (with the right pocket-book), it’s not an affordable, realistic or wise strategy for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

The good news is there is a strategy you can use that actually creates a potent and valuable local, national or global brand as a FREE BY-PRODUCT of profitable marketing.

In fact, right now there are local and global million dollar and billion dollar brands that have been built and are being built from zero by replacing the “brand and image-building” strategy they were taught by focusing on completely different objectives:

1)      The goal of your ad should be to make money. When placing an ad, your chief objective should be to make money from it. You can throw money at buying recognition, awareness and familiarity, but there’s no warranty that this brand recognition will give you value or power in the marketplace…and in fact it can lead to bankruptcy.

2)      Audience is everything. (Tweet this!) When you have limited resources, it is especially important for you to narrowly focus on a very specific audience inclined to buy from you. To do this you must first develop an avatar of who your ideal customer is. Ask what your best customer will likely have in common such as gender, age, geographic location, income, politics and interests.

Then look at which media will reach these best, most obtainable customers.

3)      Apply direct marketing to your ads. Because the objective of direct response is to get a measurable return on your marketing dollars, using a direct marketing approach instead of a brand-building will turn up your income and business. You can still build your brand, but you can do it in such a way that you don’t need to spend a dollar on advertising it.

4)      Create products and sales messages that appeal to your target audience.  Stop worrying about building your brand and instead focus on creating specific products and messages that will appeal only to your specific target audience.

5)      Avoid the temptation to make tactical moves without careful consideration. Brand can be a valuable asset or a big drain and waste of energy. Therefore, it’s important to make the right kind of tactical moves and use wise strategies to develop and build your brand.

You want a brand that can help you cut through the clutter and chaos in the marketplace. A brand that makes it easier for people to choose you over your competitor. A brand that tells consumers what to expect and what not to expect.

Dan Kennedy recommends that you don’t race to implement, but instead that you slow down to figure out a governing principle that will guide your strategy and serve as a fixed basis for evaluating what moves you make.

For example, in his new book, No B.S. Guide to Brand-Building by Direct Response, Dan lists several examples such as Farm to Table restaurants that use their guiding principle to govern their strategic choices about everything such as physical location, menu items, food sources and vendors and tactical decisions about price.

But again, branding can (and should) be done without direct investment. Dan Kennedy has never spent a cent on outright brand advertising, yet if you look at his businesses and organizations built by him such as GKIC, his brand is strong. People know him, know what he’s about, and know what to expect from him. Namely, the principle represented by Dan’s brand is truth-telling and No B.S.  It’s worth noting that he’s built this through direct-response.

It may be tempting to copy big companies advertising and marketing strategies—especially if they are backed by high-profile, high-priced agencies. However, if you want maximum profits, a powerful brand and a positive relationship with a loyal group of customers that remain excited about doing business with you, then put your energy and marketing dollars into direct response marketing that makes you money while simultaneously building a valuable and powerful brand as a free by-product.

NOTE: Get “The 10 Rules to Transforming Your Small Business into an Infinitely More Powerful Direct Response Marketing Business” for FREE. Click here to claim your customer-getting, sales-boosting tactics.


Dave Dee is one of Dan Kennedy's most successful students. Dave saw Dan speak over 16 years ago at one of the Peter Lowe Success Events when he was a struggling magician. He bought Magnetic Marketing and as you will hear when he tells you his story, his life changed in less than 90 days. Dave became a very serious student of Dan's by attending my seminars, joining his coaching group and most of all from implementing what he learned. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to

9 Responses

  1. Gary Cocchi says:

    What are your thought on construction advertising, if it was not for refferals we would not be in business today.we have tried every form there is, every which way including listing
    All services unlike your normal ads saying we do it all dormers, extensions etc.we find
    Papers are just to saturated, and too expensive for the return.we would like too build a longer
    Lead time for future work and expansion.

    • Jack Kinney says:

      Gary, what makes you better than other contractors? That’s your USP, Unique Selling Proposition. Thanks, Jack

  2. David Jacobs says:

    I just finished read the No B.S. Guide to Brand-Building by Direct Response book earlier this week. It was a great read. Coming from an ad agency background, over 20 years in the business, and now being in the direct response marketing business I can attest to the fact that the book speaks the truth. Keep up the great work.

  3. My company is in transition. We just got notice that the company Ambaya Holdings will close. The main stockholder will not put more money in the company.
    The assets will return to my original company Ambaya Gold.
    I have a high financial task to perform.
    Any suggestions as to how to make our already marketing strategies momentum count the fastest and the most economical way?
    Maybe you can take a look at our website.
    Thank you,

    • Jack Kinney says:

      Hi Ambaya,

      Your website says the consumer benefits are “Ambaya Gold’s supplements increase your body’s natural renewal capabilities and overall wellness.” What testimonials support this?

      Also, what promotional offer will you make to stimulate initial and short-term purchases?



  4. David Hunter says:

    I used to send out postcards to “build our brand” for real estate.

    Ever since I became a member of GKIC I changed it to direct-response and my direct-response mail campaigns have been working like magic… and I’m able to track the results!!

    We want prospects to raise their hand NOW, not tomorrow.

  5. Jack Kinney says:

    I agree 100%. As a senior account manager at three of the world’s largest advertising agencies J. Walter Thompson, Leo Burnett, and McCann-Erickson, I attempted to convince accounts like Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Allstate, and Chevron to stop wasting their money on “image advertising” and use business-building direct-response advertising.

    The agencies hate this because “creatives” want to build their reel and run the show. Client MBA marketing types love to see their commercials on TV and rub elbows with the agency creatives. Truly a dysfunctional relationship.

  6. […] Also as Dan Kennedy put it, big brands are not using their own or even real money because a lot of it is from investments. To many big brands, visibility is about advertising. […]

  7. Mark says:


    I am in the music industry. And I believe I found my niche (Encouraging Music in Christian genre). However I wanted to know what principles and tips I could apply to the music industry on getting my music heard?

    Thank you.

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