Advertising is like buying a draught horse

Menswear retailer Barry Souter has been in the retailing business long enough to have learned a thing or three about advertising, about what works and what doesn’t.

Based in Christchurch, New Zealand, a wonderful city that has faced huge challenges in recent years, his MY Menswear store, like the people he serves, has remained resilient and retained its sense of humour. I shared his quirky Matrimonial Refund Policy in a post some time back. Barry tells me that it still works well for him and gets his business noticed and talked about.

He has this to say about advertising:

“When you buy advertising it is like buying a draught horse. You need to be clear about why you are buying.  Is it for a pet or for a plough?

If it is a pet, it is an ‘expense’; if it is a plough, it is an ‘investment’.”

He goes on to say, “Before you invest in any media – print, radio, TV, Facebook, online, mailing lists, letterbox drops, newspaper (paid dailies or localised giveaways) be crystal clear about what you are setting out to achieve.

Is it the most appropriate for the circumstances, is it cost effective, does it match your demographics or socio-economic target group, location, category of customer, potential customer reach and so on?

Without clearly addressing these questions, you are simply spending money – an expense.

When you target your advertising correctly, you get results – a return on investment.

Advertising failure is entirely due to those responsible making the wrong choices. It is like giving your horse the wrong feed, it just won’t work!”

And remember, in New Zealand they know a thing or three about horses as well. So heed Barry’s advice and no matter what special deal the advertising rep’ is offering, think carefully about when and where to advertise, what your message should be and how to craft your call to action.

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Jurek Leon is a storyteller, speaker and trainer. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly 'Terrific Tips' e-newsletter at Alternatively, email