"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." Attributed to John Wanamaker (1838-1922)
There is a new newsletter in town, although I doubt it will be taking out The Brazil Times anytime soon. The publication is called "Family Fun Times Indiana" and consists of four pages on one sheet of newsprint. A stack of free copies were dropped off at Computer Central and other businesses last week. Copies should also be available at "libraries, mom's groups, restaurants, family attractions and sent home with various ages of school children to the parents."
The publication is free, paid for by advertising. Being a business location, we were also given the inevitable rate sheet for advertising in this publication. We read in part: "We are a 'good new(s) and announcement' publication and print only family friendly information and events."
Overall this does not seem to be the most propitious time to start any newspaper, what with the economy and all. However, the young lady who came by seemed enthusiastic about her project and obviously her heart was in the idea of providing "family friendly" news. The information she left indicates a certain level of success in other counties.
One of my few "duties" at Computer Central is being what salespeople grudgingly refer to as the "gatekeeper." That is, I screen out folks trying to sell advertising.
You would be surprised at how busy this duty keeps me. As our culture is currently constituted, business being inundated with the latest and greatest way to get our prospect's attention is unavoidable. We get, conservatively, one advertising pitch a week. The first two weeks of August alone brought this offer plus three 2011 phone book orders, one call to advertise at the Y and one for the high school, and a visit and e-mail from John Adamson of the Brazil Times.
Advertising is what made first radio and then TV possible. It adds something to the cost of every item, but without it fewer products would be available at higher cost (because demand makes price). However, after 20 or 30 years of this stuff a fellow gets to wondering: Who is profiting from all this advertising, and do we really need it all?
Profitable? Advertising is the last pure gamble left in America. Any business which chooses to stay alive must advertise in some form. But, even the companies with multi-million dollar budgets can't do everything presented. You lay your money down and you take your chances. The guy or gal selling this great new, can't miss medium for advertising gets paid whether or not advertisers get a dime back on the "investment." I'm thinking Wanamaker was right.
Useful? Do we really need so much? Is there a saturation point at which every possible means to deliver marketing messages will have been tapped and human minds everywhere will no longer see any of it? I for one could live without so much, and am beginning to wonder how saturated we've already become.
If you'd like a copy of Family Fun Times Indiana I'm guessing there are lots a businesses on National Avenue where you can pick one up. You won't be finding any ads for Computer Central, for now. We're waiting to see whether anyone else makes a profit gold using it. When you pick up your free copy, tell them you heard about it from The Brazil Times.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.