Fenestration hallucination: What advertising really works?

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.”
--John Wanamaker

The earth continues to shift constantly beneath our feet with the force and chaotic motion of a 9.5 earthquake.  In this case, I’m talking about changes occurring in advertising and marketing. 

Only a few years ago, the local glass dealer with the largest yellow page in his market won the marketing battle.  Maybe the building products dealer who had the best advertising mix of newspaper, radio and TV ads won in his geographic market.  These days, it’s hard to determine what media methods help manufacturers appeal to architects or what marketing motivates consumers to buy shower doors and replacement windows.  The question, “What advertising really works for my company?”, is still relevant, but the 60-year-old answers that executives learned in Marketing 101 are constantly, and relentlessly, changing.

Print media is barely hanging on as the ADHD generation doesn’t know how to hold magazines, books or newspapers in their smart phone-filled hands. The way we sell and communicate with one another has progressed from snail mail and phone to fax, to email, to texting, to social media. Fenestration’s largest manufacturers don’t bother to display and sell to us at our own industry’s trade show anymore … they go straight to the architects since they don’t trust dealers to sell and don’t want to hire architectural reps. Static signage and billboards are being replaced with active LED Blade Runner-like digital billboards to appeal to those of us with shorter and shorter attention spans.  The good old reliable direct mail tactics that replacement window companies have used are still only marginally effective, and phone canvassing is all but gone.  TV ads are less effective with the rise of cable and satellite station proliferation, and radio markets continue to fracture. Online advertising’s effectiveness is questionable, as we tune out banner ads and annoying pop-up ads.  "Going viral" doesn’t mean you’ll sell anything.

Being at the top of a Google search appears to be your ticket to marketing success for now.  Why?

While all advertising methods might continue on, traditional marketing appears to be declining in response to the consumer seeking real information online about products and services they’re considering.  In other words, the smoke and mirrors of advertising targeting an unsuspecting public are being pushed aside.  Now, we’re educated, qualified buyers who just want the facts so we can buy and be done with it.

Why do some linger at the top of Google’s organic search even when other companies invest money in Google Adwords or other tactics designed to push them to the top?  Because the top company’s brand awareness with clients continues on, often because of that company’s diligent customer service.  People receive real value and continue to ‘click through’ to those companies that really deliver.

I would appreciate comments from those of you who are effectively using social media.  Please share how you’re doing it and why you think it’s working for you.  I still can’t get how Facebook and Twitter will help me sell glass and windows.

“If advertisers spent the same amount of money on improving their products as they do on advertising, then they wouldn't have to advertise them.” -Will Rogers

Rod Van Buskirk is the third-generation owner of Bacon & Van Buskirk Glass Co., with locations in Champaign and Springfield, Ill. A past NGA Chairman, Rod looks at the industry from the middle of nowhere, steals ideas from anyone he can and pretends to know what he’s talking about. Rod invites your comments as you are certainly smarter than he is.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.


The best advertising is a happy customer. "Word of mouth" either online or at the neighbors house party will yield the best results. Deliver a great prduct or service at a great price and the world will know. Of course, the opposite is also true and will be well known also.

I agree traditional forms of advertising are not as effective - especially as it relates to the cost.  We're so small we cannot afford Billboards or TV.  However, for a short while I believe there is still opportunity in facebook advertising because for a small fee (bid), you can reach users based on a selected user profile or demographic and reach them during their down time - a time when they are on the computer and ripe for some online research in the privacy of their home, which fits the description of the well-informed buyer who does their homework before making big purchases. I understand there's a further movement toward mobile usage which will require advertisers to become yet more agile and compressed. I would love to see other comments.  Can you make them public? Thanks,Keith