Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, answered a question about creating buzz in Inc magazine’s October 2008 issue with some profound insight:
Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable.
Robert had to bootstrap his business and didn’t have the money to advertise. His business flourished because of word of mouth referrals. Being remarkable is a surefire way to get people talking about you. Seth Godin reminded us of this in his Purple Cow book.
When you view advertising as a tax, it no longer becomes the standard operating procedure for your company. Just because everyone else does it doesn’t mean you have to throw away your cash on the same thing.
If you embraced the constraint that you couldn’t advertise, what would you do to acquire customers?
Provide outstanding customer service as your marketing?
How about encourage word of mouth referrals?
Any way you’d slice it, you’d have to get creative. In so doing, you will probably even see ways to refine and focus your advertising message should you choose that path.