We have a saying around the office: "It's all talk, until you hit the dock".

When we first started out as a bunch of “twenty-somethings”, we'd often take lunch excursions on a Friday and head over to a water driving range to hit balls together as a team. Out in the water, there were floating docks with targets that the golfers at the range would aim for.

Of course, as a bunch of young guys, we'd chirp one another about how great our golf games were, but when it came down to it, the real test of our abilities was whether or not we could hit the dock. As I sit in my office this morning, I realize just how good an analogy that is for the point I want to make today.

Many organizations tend to address slumps in sales by attempting to "talk", or advertise, their way out of the problem.

The problem is, that strategy doesn't work long-term. Eventually, someone's going to "go to the driving range" with you and if you can't back up your talk with your abilities, you've got a credibility issue. In other words, with a flawed strategy, no amount of advertising will save your organization.

This is why the first step in effective advertising is to back up and nail down solid answers, strategies and operations around the following questions:

  • What am I offering?
  • Who is my audience?
  • Do they need what I'm offering?
  • What do they say they need?
  • What is the competition like?

Then you get to move on to equally important questions like:

  • How will I distribute the product/service?
  • How will I provide service around it?
  • What is the brand?

It's at that point that you get a chance to advertise effectively. It's about hitting the dock before you start to talk. It's about backing up your words. Really, it's about being honest with yourself and your audience. That wins people over. That will grow sales. That is good, long-term strategy.

Anything else is all talk.

Andrew VanderPloeg
Andrew VanderPloeg Guest Blogger, Consultant

Andrew served at Bark for over 20 years before recently taking over the role of Vice President of Marketing & Communications at ShareWord, one of our favorite organizations.