Canada's business magazine for traditional natural health retailers

6 minutes reading time (1138 words)

Does Advertising Really Work?

The short answer to this age-old question is... absolutely. You bet it does. For over 200 years, retailers of all types and sizes in a number of very diverse industries have employed advertising to build their businesses. And for the most part, this marketing strategy has paid off handsomely....

The short answer to this age-old question is... absolutely. You bet it does. For over 200 years, retailers of all types and sizes in a number of very diverse industries have employed advertising to build their businesses. And for the most part, this marketing strategy has paid off handsomely.

Employing an advertising program has helped retailers far and wide to effectively create awareness of their stores, they have educated their consumers about their offerings and they have often motivated the readers of their ads to visit their stores as part of their regular shopping pattern. 

Advertising is an investment – not a lottery ticket. If retailers were to utilize advertising as a quick fix for their customer traffic woes, they will be sadly disappointed. It just doesn't work like that. An effective advertising program takes commitment, planning and understanding. Not unlike investing in the stock market, the most successful advertisers recognize that you must exercise patience and commitment. Running an ad every blue moon in your local newspaper or sponsoring the news for a month on your local radio station is not enough to succeed. In order to effectively reach your customers – and there are many of them out there waiting to hear from you – you need a plan. Like any good plan, it needs to include a budget and a schedule.
The three key elements of any successful advertising plan are: awareness, education and motivation. The foremost objective of your advertising is to create awareness.


Consumers need to know that you exist. Who are you? Unfortunately, most people don't know anything about you. Advertising will help to establish your existence in the mindset of your potential customers. Establishing this awareness is the very first step for consumers to become familiar and interested in your store. Think of it this way... imagine you are invited to a party with a hundred guests. As you stand on the threshold looking out at the multitude of people, almost always, your very first instinct is to seek out familiar faces. Advertising works on the very same concept.


Have you ever noticed that the advertising produced by the mass merchants – the grocery chains, the national drug stores and their ilk – hardly ever contains product information? This, I believe, is a mistake on their part. You see, education is the cornerstone of our industry.

We are introducing completely new concepts to the average consumer. We are promoting and – in many cases – encouraging our customers to change their lifelong eating, dietary, and sometimes cultural habits and embrace new ideas, habits, foods and natural health products – because these changes will improve their health and their quality of life. This is a highly commendable but difficult objective to achieve. People in general are resistant to change and many of these new ideas, organic and natural foods, vitamins and supplements are often as foreign to the average consumer as Canadian tax laws. Therefore, if you are running an ad, airing radio commercials or distributing a flyer, surely it makes sense to include information or an explanation!
Here's the thing: information about what you do and what you have to offer is not only a basic requirement, it should be an integral component of your advertising program. Educating your advertising audience about the healthy advantages of eating organically or the remarkable benefits of including supplements in their daily regimen will help to make your advertising more interesting and more successful. Your readers, who are your potential customers, are truly interested to learn more. They are keen to discover and learn new ways and new ideas on how they can improve their health and their lifestyle. You need to use this consumer interest in your ads; it's an unparalleled opportunity for you to provide your advertising audience with relevant information and education. When it gets right down to it, we don't just sell vitamins, supplements and natural foods, we sell the concept of a healthier life. So doesn't it make sense to provide your advertising readers or listeners with a healthy serving of food for thought?


The third and final element for a successful advertisement is to include a motivating factor that will prompt your reader and soon-to-be customer to visit your store with all due haste. This motivation usually comes in the form of a superb offer with a time-limited value. There are many types of motivators, including a (reasonable) discount on the advertised item, a special one-time offer such as a BOGO (buy one and get one free) or a free gift with purchase, a guaranteed sale, or perhaps an invitation to a special event. Regardless of what you choose, every ad that you create MUST have a call to action. In order for your ad to be successful, it must include a strategy that will evoke (hopefully immediate) action.

There are additional techniques that I highly recommend for all ads. Your advertising should always be written in an active voice. Don't preach or proselytize, don't use difficult or technical terms; your advertisement should be written in the same context and form as if you were speaking to your best friend. Unless you are in the habit of talking to your friends in bullet points, these too should be avoided at all costs. The reasoning is simple; these writing taboos have been proven to turn readers off. And if your ad is not getting read, then it's costing you money. Another effective technique is to include a picture of the product in the ad. Pictures sell. Again, in all advertisements, I encourage retailers to take the product out of the box as consumers connect to the product, not to the packaging.

Does advertising really work? If you run one ad and expect customers to line up at your door, chances are you will be disappointed. However, if you create an advertising program and stick to it and employ these elements, you should see a measurable increase in your customer traffic and store sales. But sales are not the only measure of advertising effectiveness. What is equally important to measure is the change in the mindset of your consumers. Creating awareness of your existence (customer traffic), understanding more about your store and offerings (customer retention) and generating an interest in all that you have to offer (customer sales) are all benchmarks of advertising success.
The down side of not advertising is... "like winking at a girl (or boy) in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does." •


CNHR News Podcast

cnhr radio hour

News, Views and Happenings in the world of Canadian Natural Health.

Check out this month's podcast here

Your customers have spoken.  The numbers are convincing: Canada’s natural health retailers turn to CNHR for your new products.  A survey conducted in June 2020 shows retailers read the ads and Product Profiles, and react to them.  They order products they’ve seen in CNHR.  They look for your new products in CNHR.  Reach your customers via CNHR by print, video and/or podcast.  Various opportunities available to fit any budget. 

• Launch your new products

• Support your sales team

• Be visible as stores re-focus and re-charge

• Stake your position in the “new normal”

• Reach more stores – from coast to coast

• Introduce your company to new potential customers • Combine CNHR’s print, video and podcast options


New!  Product profile package

Retailers want to see more of your new products.  So, we’re making it easier for you and them. 

Introducing our new Product Profile Package:  a three-pronged way to reach retailers by combining print, video and podcast.  You get all three!

PRINT:  Claim a spot on CNHR’s Product Profile pages, mailed to health food stores coast to coast, and read by over 10,000 retail store buyers, owners, managers and staff.

VIDEO:  This is new for CNHR – video product reviews.  You’ll get a 30 second review of your product with product image and voiceover.  Five products per video, then e-blasted to CNHR’s database, to be shared among staff and with the store’s customers.   

PODCAST:  Also a new feature.  Your product will get a mention on the New Products portion of the popular CNHR News Podcast, hosted by CNHR editor Bruce Cole and Deane Parkes.   Your company name, product name, a couple of lines, followed with your company contact information.

Three-platform exposure for your new products, delivered by CNHR, the trusted source of industry information retailers have counted on for 24 years.   Three platforms for $699.00

The Product Profile Package is FREE to all full or half page advertisers!

For more information please contact:

Phone: 800.663.6580