And when it comes to advertising, so should you

By Rich Lindblom, Contributor

If you want to succeed in business, you need to be willing to step outside your comfort zone on occasion and try something different. Unfortunately for many people, that isn’t very easy to do.  

A perfect example is advertising. Back in my dealer days I had one saying about advertising: “I’ll try anything once, maybe twice.” Not that I always tried everything that was presented to me. But if it seemed like a new form of advertising had any chance of working and the price was within reason, I would always consider it and quite often try it.  

Let me ask you: How many times a month does someone walk through your front door, call you on the phone or, far more likely these days, send you an email with their surefire, can’t miss, gonna-make-you-rich marketing concept? I’d be willing to bet that most of you probably just blow them off. As for me, unless I truly didn’t have the time to spare, I would always try to give them a couple of minutes to hear what they had to offer. Sure, most of the pitches were a waste of time. But every once in a while, someone showed me something that actually made sense and seemed like it could work.  

Over the years my brother and I frequently had this debate about whether I was cheap (his chosen word) or frugal (my preference). Either way I won’t deny that one of my favorite things in the world was negotiating a better deal to save money, especially when it came to advertising. Maybe it was a two-for-one deal or an introductory discount. But whether it’s TV, radio, print, direct mail or digital, the price needs to be right because no dealer can afford to throw money out the window. And if the deal isn’t right, you have to be able to walk away.  

That said, there’s a phrase I coined a few years back: “If you’re not advertising, you’re dying.” And I truly believe that. Every dealer needs to continually try to find new and diverse ways to keep their name out there in front of potential customers. It doesn’t matter what direction you take in your advertising, so long as you’re not just throwing your money away. 

Digital is without a doubt the obvious choice for the foreseeable future. So the next time your AVB Marketing rep reaches out with an idea, do yourself a favor and listen to what they have to say.

Also, if you haven’t tried direct mail in a while, give it another shot. I have always been a huge fan, but only in moderation; you can’t run a direct mail piece every week to the same people.

If there is one thing that my 40-plus years of trying to bring customers to my store taught me, it’s that just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, something happens that makes me realize how little I actually know.  The truth is that no matter how smart you think you are or how long you’ve been doing this, there is always someone who is smarter than you or who came up with an idea you would never have conceived on your own.    

So as I said at the beginning of this column, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone once in a while, get creative and try something new.  Who knows, you may stumble upon the Next Big Thing before your competition does.

Rich Lindblom sold his 64-year-old family business, Advanced Maytag Home Appliance of Schaumburg, Ill., and now shares his more than four decades of retail experience with BrandSource members as product manager of AVB’s SYNC point-of-sale system and as a YSN columnist. You can reach Rich at

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