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How A Magazine Subscription Could Cost You Your Business

A great friend of mine recently forwarded several ad-related articles from Inc. and Fast Company's list of the best ad-related blogs. As I skimmed the articles and the blogs, a dark feeling crept into my heart: This information is not for those of us down here on Earth.

There was no discussion about the most important aspect of marketing: getting new customers. Instead, the space was filled with discussions of image and art and how to create and maintain a brand for your company.

It seems that these glitzy ad folks have created this world, high above the rest of us, in the clouds, where getting new customers doesn't matter. Looks are more important than leads.

This may all be fine for Coke, McDonalds, Nike, Sony, Tommy, and the like, but it doesn't do a bit of good for those of us down here on the ranch.

My big problem with all of these major ad blogs and the major ad and business magazines - Adweek, Adage, even Fast Company and Inc. - is that they reside in the land of the brand. That's not where we are. That's not where our clients are.

None of these blogs discuss real concepts for getting prospects to call your phone or bang on your door. I read fast company every month and have decided it is DEADLY to an entrepreneur starting a small business. I'm not saying their ideas aren't good, or the concepts aren't sound, or the information is bad, or the writers are dumb. But I am saying it's the wrong information for the small guy. And most of us are the small guys.

The big companies are controlled by a small amount of executives and Madison Ave. firms. It's the rest of us, the majority of us, who represent the sea of small businesses trying to pull it off in the NOW economy.

The more I learn and the more I see, the greater the divide seems to become between what's real and what's glossy magazine fantasy. It's like a woman reading Cosmo and Glamour and believing her life and looks should be like those discussed in the articles or shown in the pictures. It's really no different.

Inc. and Fast Company paint pictures and tell stories of eclectic companies with execs who wear sneakers and mohawks and drive electric cars - and oh, by the way, that's the extent of their marketing. It may be true. About as true as Brittany Spear's wedding was - but that doesn't mean it exists down here at ground level where the rest of us are working to pull a buck or a million.

So why don't these scented glossy magazines portray the bootstrapper who started with a 1000 piece direct mail campaign and a small ad in a trade pub and turned it into a million dollar business?

Because it's not glamorous, it's not sexy, and that guy doesn't have a mohawk.

Well, neither do you or I.

The take away here is to understand that these magazines' jobs are to sell magazines. Sensational stories sell magazines. Great.

But small business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere must be very careful and aware of this truth - and be cautious not to let their brains be filled with self-doubt, envy, or disappointment that their businesses and their marketing aren't like those in the magazines and blogs. They're not supposed to be - anymore than your wife is supposed to look like Julia Roberts during her pregnancy.