When’s the last time you saw or heard an ad for something and then bought it. If you don’t include events, something that literally requires very specific advertising, when is the last time you started up YouTube and thought “that’s a hell of an idea, I think I’ll buy that?” When is the last time you were watching TV (is that even still a thing) and thought “I think I’ll stop watching NCIS: Los Angeles and go buy that thing?” The answer is, you haven’t. Ever.

Television used to need advertising. People weren’t paying for television in any significant way so television needed a partner and along came advertisements. But those days are gone. Television doesn’t need advertising anymore because everything is paid for now. Well, mostly anyways. When platforms like Netflix can have original content with no ads, well, let’s just say the old system is dead.

So how the hell do you advertise? Let me tell you a story. My mom manages a gas station in a small town. She spent a long time in the corporate world but I’ve never seen her so happy and so fulfilled at her job as she is right now. Last week she got a call from a new kid at the shop. It seems that a customer came in and wanted to check their lotto ticket and buy a bottle of pop. Unfortunately, the till was broken. The clerk told the customer that he couldn’t check his ticket because if he had won, he wouldn’t be able to pay him (see till not working) and he couldn’t sell him a pop because he couldn’t make change (see till not working).

The customer was upset. He wasn’t irate. He was annoyed. He’d now have to go further, out of his way, AND to a spot where his pop would be more expensive. So the kid gave him a pop. He called my mom and said “you can take it out of my pay if you want, I just couldn’t figure out a better way to make it work.” Did my mom take it out of his pay? Hell no. She congratulated him on a job well done.

These days, advertising is about doing the right thing by people. They’ll do all the work for you. They’ll blow up social media, they’ll tell their friends and most importantly, they’ll come back. Now, some people will try to game the system. But some people are already gaming the system. So what?

The next time you have the chance to do right by a customer and it’s going to cost you, think to yourself;

“How much do I spend on advertising? How much will the loss of this customer cost me?”

If you add those two numbers up and it’s a big number, hell even if it’s not THAT big of a number, I think you’ll find that doing the right thing is a damned good idea.