The Domination Principle

The Domination Principle applies to all advertising and marketing endeavors. It simply states that you will never get maximum results from any advertising or marketing effort unless you do it in a dominant way. Although this point may seem rather obvious, the truth is most businesses are never dominant in any form of advertising or marketing they use. Business owners I have worked with will often say it is because they do not want the volume of business it would create, the truth most often being they don’t want to spend the money it would take to become dominant. After all, if you are truly running a business, and are not a technician selling his wares at a self-created job, how could there possible be too much business?
Let us start with the location of a business as a marketing tool. Some businesses are more location oriented than others. Certainly the fast food industry falls into this category. You find the McDonald’s, Burger Kings and Wendy’s of the world paying higher prices for higher visibility locations. You don’t find them on side street where the number of consumer eyes is less than is available to them in the market. It costs more for these locations and the success of these businesses proves the importance of the high visibility location to their industry.
Next, let us look at the use of sales representatives. If you have one sales person and a competitor has 10, which sales force do you think will sell more? How Much Do Dental Consultants Charge Which one will cost the most? How many large companies in truly competitive direct selling industries have a small sales force? The answer is obvious, no?
Now let’s begin to look at forms of advertising as a test of the domination principle. How many large companies do you know that do business with the public strictly rely on word-of-mouth advertising? How many large companies can you think of that are not a dominant advertiser in at least one medium? For purposes of illustration, I will continue to use the fast food industry as an example because there are numerous points about how it gets business that apply to the domination principle.
Certainly the fast food chains like the 3 I have already mentioned do more than just buy expensive locations. While they do use almost every form of advertising available to them, as a general rule they are relatively dominant in the use of the mediums they do utilize. The most obvious medium for them is television. They are among the list of dominant advertisers users of television advertising in terms of the amount of time they buy and the cost of their time slots. Notice that the smaller competitors in the fast food industry do not advertise as strongly on television as the big three. Is there a correlation?
Television advertising is very similar to radio advertising. You dominate it by being on one station. You dominate it more by being dominant on more than one station. Generally speaking, if you are going to run ten spots per day, you are better off directing all ten towards the same audience on one station than you are running one spot per day on each of ten stations. Better yet, you will generate more sales if you are dominant with 10 spots per day by running 10 per day on each station. Consider the following story about a business I watched grow from one location to dozens of lo cations over a period of a decade. It is a perfect example of the Domination Principle. It involves a local tire company that opened its first location and entered the highly competitive tire replacement business. The store had at least 6 chains to compete with on day one. The key to the company’s success is their understanding of the Domination Principle.
Certainly there were many forms of advertising the owner could have considered. The problem was that because he was in a sizable metropolitan area, all of the major mediums (radio, television, billboards, newspaper and Yellow Pages) were relatively expensive for a single location start up business. For rather obvious reasons, he chose the newspaper, and specifically the sports section of the local daily newspaper. This was a logical choice because most of his competitors were there as well.
How could a one location business be a player in a metropolitan newspaper? As mentioned earlier, he certainly was not the only tire business advertising in the sports section. Some of his competitors bought quarter page and even half page ads. How could he be dominant? He did so b being the only tire store to run an ad in the sports section every single day. His ad was about one inch by two columns. It was loaded with prices of various brands and sizes of tires. He left just enough room in the ad for his store name, address and telephone number, and credit cards information.
While he did not spend as much money in newspaper advertising as his bigger competitors, he was the only tire store that was there every day. Since he could not dominate with the biggest ad, he decided to be dominant with the frequency with which he ran the ad. The ads worked, and within a few months he opened a second location. He then began to increase the size of the ad, and eventually grew to three, then four locations etc.
After he had established multiple locations, he started advertising on radio and television. He quickly became the most dominantly advertised tire store on those mediums in the market. Not only was he the most dominant tire store advertiser, he was the most dominant advertiser period! In just a few years, he was the largest tire dealer in the region!
He became dominant in terms of the number of locations, the cost of the locations, and the amount of advertising dollars spent on his business. I watched this happen over a period of years and realized that what he did was really not that unusual. Businesses become dominant in their industry by being dominant in their marketing and advertising, no other way.
Let us look at two more mediums, Yellow Pages and the internet. Let’s turn to our three hamburger giants for a comparison.
They have learned that good locations give them more exposure to potential customers. They have learned that the better the location, the more business they do. They measure Small Business Consultant a potential location in terns of traffic count and ease of access. They know what a good location is and what a bad location is. It’s all a matter of traffic.
When looking at Yellow Pages and the internet, it is still about traffic. Eye traffic to be precise. Instead of cars driving down the street, it is pairs of eyes looking the spend the money of their owners. The pages being viewed are the streets to the fast food restaurants. McDonald’s is not going to sell me a hamburger if I do not stop in their store, and I cannot stop in if I don’t see it. With yellow pages and the internet, a user cannot do business with you if they cannot see you because they are looking at a page where you are not.
So, is location important in the yellow pages and online? Yes. Do some locations cost more than others? Yes. If you have a better location, do you get a better response? Yes. Just as a business with 10 stores will tend to do more business than with one location because of the exposure to more traffic, the same is true for yellow pages and the internet. Multiple locations in both of these mediums are important. For example, a plumbing company can advertise in the yellow pages under PLUMBERS, WATER HEATERS, SEWER CLEANING etc. and can optimize their website to focus on more than one keyword. Each additional heading in the yellow pages, and each keyword they go after, is like having another location.
All of the YP headings and all of the potential keywords are not of equal value. Some will have more traffic than others, and some will have a better return dollar for dollar than others even with less traffic. The eyes are going to make a purchase. The only question is which business is going to get the sale. Double truck ads in the yellow pages get the most traffic, and the first ad in the heading tends to get more than the ones that come after it. The #1 listing on Google gets more traffic than the ones that come after it as well.
Most business owners think that the biggest yellow page ad costs the most, when in fact they are the least expensive. The only accurate method to analyze cost it on a per customer basis. Because the volume of calls from the #1 ad, and therefore customers, is going to be significantly greater than a quarter page ad 10 positions back, the cost per customer will be disproportionately lower. It is this fact in case that is one of the causes for the decline in yellow pages. Not only has the internet eaten away at the yellow page core for the last few years, but when you allow double trucks and full page ads in a heading in the phone book, you cause unintended consequences. Let me illustrate what I mean. In the Charlottesville market, there are several double trucks and several full and half page ads in the PLUMBERS heading. A new plumber business opens their doors and buys into the yellow pages, but like most new businesses, they cannot afford to buy a large ad, so they start out with a 1/4 page ad in the #16 spot. What is likely to happen the first year for this business owner is sad. He is not going to get many calls, and is not likely to know where the calls are coming from (unless his YP sales rep is tracking the ad for him which is unusual) because he is not getting such a large volume of calls that he would have to notice the source. At the end of the year, he may have made a profit, he may not have. In either case, it is not large enough for it to be obvious that it came from the yellow pages, and more often than not the new business owner is now convinced that the yellow pages do not work. This is sad, because as much as they have declined in consumer usage, they still work when done properly by someone that knows how to use them in the new internet based market and declining economy. So, over the years, the YP industry has done an awful lot to convince advertisers that yellow pages do not work, and caused them to look elsewhere, like to the internet, radio and television.
In much the same way, the internet search providers like Google have to be careful, and they have, to enable small businesses to have a big business presence on a small business budget. They’ve done this by effective algorithms to run their search engine, and offering pay per click programs that literally any business can buy into on some level. But, just as with yellow pages, it takes a knowledgeable and experienced advertiser to attain maximum benefit online. Many small businesses we have worked with were initially opposed to pay per click advertising and even SEO because they made an attempt at it themselves some time ago and got little results. Most of the time it was because a plumbing business went after the keyword PLUMBER, where there is tons of competition, rather than identifying a small and less competitive niche in the market like WATER HEATER LEAKS. Once the appropriate heading, or keyword is identified, and a thorough analysis conducted, it pays to be the dominant player.
Start your advertising and marketing efforts with a focus on dominating one niche, dominate it, then expand. You’ll make more money every time.
Alert Media Marketing is a Charlottesville based national advertising and marketing consulting firm for small to medium businesses.

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