Black and White Marketing

in a Full-Color World

One of the greatest movies of all time, a cinematic sensation was the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. Based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, the film incorporated a technique developed by Technicolor. It was not the first major motion picture to incorporate color, but it was one of the most epic color films, which attempted to trick viewers into thinking it was a Black and White.

This same type of industry revolution is happening today in Business. Many businesses, companies and non-profits are still marketing “black and white” in a “full-color world.” It used to be, your marketing campaign would be to buy a local TV commercial, a yellow page ad, a few columns in the local newspaper and boom, you were reaching a huge, captive audience. You could focus on one or two marketing mediums and all would be good. All of this has changed dramatically.

You can still use this marketing strategy…if you only want to reach people over 55, that still have a land line in the house and get a newspaper delivered every morning. But if your potential customer is less than 50, you won’t reach them marketing like that, AT ALL! According to a 2011 study on The State of the News Media, just over 30% of people ages 18-44 read a daily Newspaper. The dilemma many sole proprietors and small businesses fall into is, they have been doing the same marketing for 20 years and it has worked up to this point. The problem is, you are living in a “full color” marketing world, but you are marketing in Black and White. Most people are searching for businesses and services via Google, Yelp, Pintrest, Yahoo, Facebook, Linked-In, Craigslist and numerous other social sites. This scares many business owners.


People ages 18-44
read a daily newspaper

However, the hard truth is, marketing times have changed. In order to stay competitive…your marketing and advertising has to change. You have too choose to use your marketing dollars in a “full-color” approach. Visiting your website is the first thing people do after they hear about you, or get a recommendation from someone else. Your website is now your yellow page ad, your TV ad, your magazine ad, your business brochure. It is the first impression people have of your business. Do they look legitimate, do they have satisfied clients, have they done this work before, how long have they been in business, are they endorsed by others, what are their qualifications?

Black & White Films - Marketing

If you think about it, black and white films were a lot easier to produce. Costumes didn’t have to be exactly the right color, hair color, makeup, all of it could be “good enough”, because no one could tell that an outfit didn’t match perfectly…it was simply shades of gray or sepia tone. Also, lighting did not have to be as intense, because you were only filming on one strip of film.

When color was first introduced, the motion pictures were filmed on huge cameras that loaded in three, independent strips of film to capture, red, green and blue. This was costly and because of the low ASA ratings of these cameras, the lighting had to be insanely bright and hot. In fact, it was purported that the set for the Wizard of Oz was often 100 degrees, due to the immense lighting needed for the color cameras. Color films also required better coordination of costumes, backdrops, make-up and set design. Production studios could ignore this new wave of technology and continue producing black and white movies in a full color world. However, audiences wanted color. Color enriched the viewer’s experience, giving a more life like feel to cinema. Audiences began flocking to movies with the desire to see them in color.

The revolution of color film was upon us in the early 1940’s and it was completely changing the future of cinema and how motion pictures would be shot, produced, edited and distributed.



How do people view your business? Where do they view your business? Does your logo match on your trucks, business cards, and website? A consistent image, text and language helps reinforce your brand. Also, you need a fully working, clean, easy to navigate website, with phone and email address. Not something you published from a low budget domain name registration service, but a fully functioning site. Businesses used to spending $400 a month to get a listing in the yellow pages. Spend the dollars to make your business look great and classy…on the web.



Carve out two hours of a day to think strategy, targeting and goals. Your goal should be to reach more customers, but how? Where does your potential client shop, go to work, what do they read, what websites do they visit? You cannot reach everyone effectively, so what is the main group or demographic that will buy your product or service? Define who your “target audience” is, how they live, what they do. This will help you determine where to reach them. Is it gas station pump ads, mailers, newspaper inserts, web search terms, billboards, bus stop benches, etc. You need to be where they are.



Talk about what is going on with your service, your products and your company. Don’t brag or boast, in fact, let others tell the story through testimonies and case studies. Start small…with a company Facebook page, a twitter account, a Linked-in account or a Flickr account. Share stories from happy clients, images of jobs well done. But don’t be obnoxious. No one wants a pushy business owner constantly blasting them with messages of how great their business is. Be respectful of your relationships and your connections to them.


Every industry is evolving, over time. It’s time to evolve your marketing techniques from a Black and White strategy to a Full Color Strategy!