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Deep Versus Wide

In just about everything you do, you have a choice. Go Deep or go Wide.

In business that could mean a number of things…

  • Stock a few things Deeply or stock a Wide assortment.
  • Try to create Deep relationships with a few special customers or shallow relationships with as Wide a group as possible.
  • Advertise Deeply in one media or spread yourself thinly across a Wide variety of venues.

Obviously, the best choice is to do both. But it is rare that any independent business has the resources to go Deep and Wide at the same time.

So with limited resources which is better? Deep or Wide?

This is the question that came up last Monday at the Jackson Retail Success Academy. One of our panelists was asked about advertising and what he felt was most effective. He said mixing up the media, doing a little in a lot of areas worked best for him. At which point every head turned towards me.

Two weeks earlier I instructed the same group of students to go Deep with their advertising, not to mix it up too much. Pick one media, I told them, and do it to the best of your budget and ability.

Every eye was now staring at me to see what I had to say.

And here’s what I said…


First, I did not want to discount what a fellow local business person whom I respect had just said. Second, I already had my say on the matter. Third, it wasn’t the time or place since we were supposed to be talking Inventory Management at the time. And finally, none of the students in that group had the kind of advertising budget this retailer had.

But the question still begged to be answered. Is mixing up the media a viable option or is it better to focus on one media done right?

Okay, I cheated. I phrased the question with a serious slant. I used the words, “done right”.

You see, the key to successful advertising is not how much you do or where you do it so much as how well you do it. Do you have a powerful message? Do you craft that message to speak directly to the heart of your audience? Do you pound that message over and over and over until the customers are thinking of nothing else other than you?

When I talk about Deep in advertising, I’m talking connection. How deeply do you connect with your audience? How well do you move their who-gives-a-crap meter? If you can do that in more than one media, good for you. Some businesses don’t have the money. Most don’t know how to craft the right message.

Your customers are your business relationships. The deeper the relationship, the more business you’ll do. And that starts with a deep and long lasting connection through your ads. If you’re dabbling in a little radio here, a little TV there, with a little newsprint on the side, how can you make any lasting impressions? How can you stay with it long enough to move the meter?

With all due respect to my fellow retailer, mixed media is rarely the answer. While he runs a successful business, Roy Williams, who taught me about going Deep, has turned other businesses in his category into rock stars (for those who know, pun intended).

Would you like to learn to go Deep? Join me for an hour on Wednesday, May 20th at 7:30am. I’ll be holding court at Jackson Coffee Company upstairs in their conference room doing a presentation that will change the way you advertise for good (or better).


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