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Let’s talk Dirty

Let’s talk Dirty


In other words, Advertising. I know you hate it; I know why you hate it. 

Of course, it can be a big fat waste of money. But if done correctly – with strategy, it can help put your business ahead of your competition, who is, in fact, wanting to take your market share.

That’s how it works: who is getting market share and who isn’t. You might think your business is coming from Google, but by the time they have gotten to searching, they already made up their mind. Where advertising changes things is what they Google. If they are googling ‘ABC Karate’, your marketing is working. If they are googling ‘karate near me,’ you need more marketing.

However, sadly, it often is a big fat waste of money, but not for the reasons you may be thinking. People bounce from platform to platform, looking for the magical answer, which is one of the biggest reasons their marketing fails. There is no magic. Advertising is merely communication, and those who communicate in more than one channel seem to have a more solid presence. 

This little video is 7 minutes to save you grief:

I say that because I have been in this business a good minute. This is hard to believe because I am so youthful and all, but media was my first grown-up job at the age of 21. I fell in love with the ability to use my art and storytelling skills. I love helping small businesses because I think they are often far better for the economy, the environment, and their employees. But they also fight harder for their share of the pie. Unfortunately, local advertising designs and strategies are often extraordinarily bad. They convey no compelling reason to care about what you are saying, and there is often no strategic aim for what you want advertising to accomplish. No wonder you might hate advertising!

Through all my years of work and study (they go hand in hand, but studying trends is not the same as studying marketing), I latched onto this line, which came from one of my favorite books, The 33 Ruthless Rules of Advertising.

“The purpose of advertising is to establish a market equity position, to realize a growth objective.” 


If we start with the understanding “they who own the mind, own the market,” it helps us understand our market equity position and how it impacts the bottom line. (The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing)

Name the top furniture store in Colorado.

When did you last talk about American Furniture Warehouse in idle conversation? When was the last time you randomly read furniture store websites? Probably when you were looking to buy something, right? So, was it the web that influenced you or the awareness you already had of their brand? Knowing that people buy from people they trust, how have I heard of AFW if I am not talking about them at happy hour?

Digital has thrown a monkey wrench in helping businesses dominate their own market because it makes people believe the sale is starting on the web. The sale started long before they got to the search. It starts in the mind first.

Digital advertising has only been around for about twenty years, and we are just starting to learn more about it. Undoubtedly, digital is part of our lives, but is digital advertising really doing all that we thought it was? Some of the research shows we might have given it credit in areas it does not actually influence.

I am hiring new sales and marketing interns to help us with all the new initiatives we are taking on at YS in 2024. One of the saddest things I am learning: they aren’t being taught marketing, they are being taught digital. Which isn’t a strategy – it is part of a strategy.  Until AI (or animals) start spending money, the marketplace is based on humans. The shopper you want is a human first; you need their trust to influence them when they are ready to search.

Some things we have learned after 20 years of digital marketing. Digital does not really help create a brand identity for businesses. It is the end of the purchase funnel, but it does not do as much to influence the human being on the other end to trust your brand. What about Influencers? Isn’t that being in the media? Yes, followers help, but on a local level, most of our local businesses aren’t gaining 100,000 followers or more. As a local media outlet, on average, we reach between 50-100,000 people monthly on our website, + print monthly 45,000 + socials, of course, IG/FB/LI, and not much x. While we are local media and not retail, we use more than one channel to talk to people. Print seems to do the most for building our Sustaining Supporters Program, tho. But let us not forget, media is one of the major influencers.

People trust what they see online 90% less than if they read it in print. It is absolutely necessary to be findable on the net, and if you are selling online, even more necessary to be findable, but the marketing you do before they get to the web will make them search for you. It’s not just how they find you that matters, it’s what they think of you that matters more. What are the keywords that brought people to your website, after all? Was it really a click-through? When eBay, Shutterstock, or Amazon pay to be at the top, is it really the paid post that brought them to their website, or were people already going to their website?

But what about the young people? What about them? Were they born with computer chips? They experience digital saturation as much as us older folks. In fact, studies show that 34% of them are leaving social media or reducing screen time dramatically. Recently, I had a 20-something young man say to me, “I grew up with the damn thing in my hand, and I am sick of it.” People still want human connection – no matter their age.

A long time ago, I had a shop owner who wanted to know the exact moment that led someone to be influenced to buy. All I could say was, “the sale starts in the mind long before they are ready to buy.” Back to “they who own the mind, own the market”.

Locally, you don’t need to do what Jake Jabs does. You don’t have eight giant-mega stores to market. But every business should do what Jake does: dominate your market’s minds. Which begs the question, how well do you know who your market is?

Branding – isn’t it just throwing money away? Only if you don’t care what people think about your brand. And I guarantee the odds of my neighbors chatting about business brands at happy hour regularly will be about as limited of a reach as social media offers. Social is great for reaching the people who already like you, not so great at reaching the masses.

The most successful businesses have strategies in all three stages of the Purchase Funnel and they know that they don’t advertise when they are busy, and they don’t advertise when they are slow, they advertise because their doors are open.

We celebrate 24 years in 2024, and I am proud we are doing the kind of journalism that matters. Not just because of democracy, justice, and all those important First Amendment reasons to have honest journalism, but because locals trust us and read us.

I can’t promise you will become a Billionaire with one ad campaign, but I do know that the local brands that have utilized strategic marketing plans in more than one platform are the most successful, and that should include YS locally. (We can’t do much if you are looking for a national audience; we are local.)

We won’t let you waste your money on bad advertising either. Our in-house award-winning design and marketing house is at your service for free, because a good ad has 7x the impact of a bad one. 

That’s a lot of information, Shavonne, I don’t have time for that. That’s okay our Marketing Guidebook and Growth Objective Calculator help you navigate all of this in a strategic manner and we provide all these tools for free.

Plus we are always happy to meet and help you with your strategy with a complimentary consultation.

Some articles to dive into:


The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens

The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising

What Digital Advertising Gets Wrong

POV: Digital advertising is dead. Good riddance

Is Digital Advertising Dead?

Digital Ads Don’t Work and Everyone Knows It

Is the Golden Age of Digital Advertising Dead?

Study: 34% of Gen-Z Are Leaving Social Media

How Much Time Do Digital Signage Displays Really Have With Viewers?


Six Reasons Why Branding Is More Important Than Ever Before

Your Ultimate Guide To Brand Equity And How To Build It

Why A Brand Matters

How Do Customers See Your Brand?

Navigating the influencer landscape: The positive and negative effects of social media influencers on adolescents


The Print is Dead Mantra Is Lazy Thinking

Has Print Marketing Risen From The Grave?

The Future of Digital Is Print

Why Marketers Are Returning to Traditional Advertising

Are Brands Returning To Traditional Marketing?

Is Print Advertising Still Effective? Unveiling the Power and Potential of Traditional Media

Get it Free at www.yellowscene.com/advertise


Yellow Scene Magazine is an award-winning, credentialed member of the press focusing on hyper-local stories and always authentic journalism. In 2023, we won at the Colorado Press Association Annual Convention /2022 work, Best General Excellence – Class 8 , as well as Best Design Agency.


Shavonne Blades grew up on the West Coast but moved to Colorado in High School. She left for California after school and returned to Colorado in 1990. She got her start in media at the age of 21 in Santa Cruz, California as an advertising sales rep. Having no experience and nothing more than a couple of years as an art college attendee she felt the bug to work in media at a young age. She learned that by helping her customers with design and marketing, their campaigns would be far more successful and has made a 30+ year career in design, copywriting, and marketing for her clients. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPy4MMdcfLg. She has always chosen to work in Independent Media and believes deeply in the need for true, authentic Community Journalism. She is proud that YS has never compromised journalism standards in its 20+ history and continues to print YS on paper monthly while also expanding web coverage. She has worked at 3 Alternative Weeklies and founded Yellow Scene Magazine in 2000. You can learn more about Shavonne's adventures in the YS 20th Anniversary issue: https://yellowscene.com/2020/10/08/the-yellow-scenes-red-tornado/

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