My uncle David Lloyd Jones was a successful entrepreneur whose first business was manufacturing caravans and second business was operating caravan parks – a business my cousin runs today.
Lloyd Jones was always interested in my media roles and always asked about advertising. He told me that he liked to read advertisements from suppliers and potential business partners and he would measure how long the company was advertising for.
His argument was that a company’s ability to advertise indicated something about its financial strength and strategic commitment. If it was still advertising a year later, it told him that it was successful and that was a signal to him that it was a potential business partner.
But while you can admire a supplier of products that give your shop a point of difference that you can understand, the risk is that the product your shoppers want may be made by another local supplier that you will never connect to
Pick up any business book written by a start-up entrepreneur today and it will preach the opposite, advising companies to use social media and PR to build awareness. The convenience trade has fistfuls of suppliers that are hard scrabbling their way upwards, blagging trade stands at wholesaler events and so on.
Culturally, this fits with how many retailers have built their businesses. It fits with how many wholesalers have risen from retail roots.
But while you can admire a supplier of products that give your shop a point of difference that you can understand, the risk is that the product your shoppers want may be made by another local supplier that you will never connect to.
In part this may be because the supplier simply does not have an understanding of what the product opportunity is.
For example, well-thought-out start-ups like Just Eat are prolific advertisers. They have a story to share and want as many people as possible to hear it as quickly as possible.
There are plenty of alternative suppliers and if you invest your business with them you may get lucky. But you may miss out on the best fit with what will grow your business most.
Earlier this year, I sat with three retailers and discussed the advertisements in Retail Express. There were too many of them, they initially said. These messages don’t resonate, they said.
But they stopped at one advertisement. One said: “This is an important brand.
I have not been thinking about it. It’s made me a lot of money.”
They then looked at another advertisement from a major supplier. It’s important to us what the supplier has to say, they said. The actual ad tried to fit too much information in too small a space and they gave up on reading it.
They decided there were not too many advertisements and what the brands and companies said were important. Not every one was right for their business. But some were.
Smart people pay attention to what other people pay to get in front of them. In business you need to look behind the information that you receive and think about what’s really in your best interest to follow.