Advertising is the public face of marketing. Everyday we read ads in papers and magazines and see them on television. They are the means that allow manufacturers to communicate their news to the public. Advertising is your carte blanche to inform the public on your terms. However, advertising comes at a price. At the time of writing, a quarter page in the Technology section of the New York Times costs $41,520, not including the costs of producing the ad. A typical 30-second advertising slot on television for prime time will set you back $200,000 ($1.6 million during the Super Bowl). Mainstream campaigns require deep pockets. Microsoft spent $250 million worldwide just on the launch of XP.

Most software developers don't have nine figures to spend on ads. Even the big IT players are small potatoes compared with the heavy year-in, year-out users. Heavy software advertisers (seven digits) can't do much more than promote new releases in bursts. Software houses have learned over 20 years of trial and error that the most they can get across is one thought about their new program and one feeling about the brand. The image-building element (more to do with the way that they do it) ensures that the investment in previous releases is remembered.

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