Why Customers Lured by Ads Are Often Not Loyal

Perhaps the worst aspect of traditional advertising, one apparent to anyone who runs a retail store, is that customers who respond primarily to media ads don’t usually return. The same truth has been discovered by magazines and publishing companies that rely heavily on junk mail solicitations to sell their wares.

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The fact is that customers recruited through scattergun advertising techniques such as TV spots, newspaper ads, direct mail, contests, unsolicited telephone sales and Internet freebies rarely come back. Unscrupulous Internet businesses such as DoubleClick have used the Internet to invade your privacy and sell your e-mail address to other businesses who beseige you with so-called ”targeted” marketing based on sites you have visited and purchases you have made.

An example of this phenomenon familiar to most owners of small service-type businesses comes from the experience of Laura Peck. She wrote to us that she used to advertise her assertiveness workshops, but due to financial problems discontinued the ads. Instead, she started cultivating her own community of friends and acquaintances for clients.

Two years later, her business was thriving, and she noted: “When I advertised, I seemed to attract people who came because of the discount I offered. These clients often did not return, would cancel sessions and generally were not repeaters. The people who were most enthusiastic, most loyal, and continued with their sessions were almost always clients who had been personally referred. Had it not been for the economics involved, I would probably not have learned this important lesson: Personal recommendation is the best advertising there is.”

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