Why Advertising Works
Advertising can work and, in fact, often works quite well for some. For a growing number of shrewd marketers, advertising is building a powerful and predictable customer base.
But, advertising doesn't work at all for a great many people. And for most, it does only a mediocre job of delivering customers. Let's take a look at why so much advertising fails.
# 1. Emotion wins out over logic.
People and companies spend thousands of dollars (indeed, sometimes millions) on ads that are poorly thought out and pointless. They may entertain, but they don't direct readers or viewers to any specific action. Such ads are self-serving ego trips that may not even interest readers, much less make a convincing case for meeting their needs or solving their problems.
Good advertising requires that you find answers to a set of basic questions (Check out the Marketing Audit) before you create it or pay to get it published or aired. Good advertising also requires that you build into it a way to measure success and justify repeating the ad.
About now, many advertising creative types will be protesting, "Testing takes the fun out of it." You may want to ask them if fun is really the goal.
#2. Little Or No Planning Defeats A Campaign Before It Even Starts!
Action-oriented executives often have an aversion to planning. Making things happen is what they do best. (It's been said that the Japanese routinely plan ahead in generational terms, but Americans consider planning for anything over 90 days as long-term.)
Regardless of the lead time, the lack of adequate planning is the major flaw in most unsuccessful advertising efforts...and there's no excuse for it. Plans can be started on the back of an envelope -- but they must be carefully designed to support continuous revision.
#3. We're All Advertising Experts.
Since most of us have grown up in a world of proliferating and all-pervasive media, we have been subjected to an ongoing barrage of advertising virtually since birth. That makes us all experts on advertising. Such experts can be identified by this statement, "I know what I like." (If we're creative people, we often see advertising as a way of expressing our vision or artistic talents. But unfortunately, what we like isn't always what sells. And we get confused between what gets attention, what entertains and what sells...particularly since most surveys that measure advertising "effectiveness" are really testing for recall or entertainment levels.)
Entrepreneurs are especially vulnerable to making serious advertising mistakes based on personal taste. Often, the very single-minded determination that makes them successful also makes it hard for them to step outside of their world and into the shoes of potential customers. An entrepreneur headed for disaster can be identified by this statement, "We know our customers better than anyone else."
CREATING ADVERTISING THAT DOES WORK.
When you can track your advertising and its impact on sales, then you have the opportunity to create advertising that does work.
And when you approach advertising with a systematic program that has built-in course correction capability, your advertising can become a source of profitable, repeatable and predictable sales.
So where do you start? What steps do you take to aim your advertising dollars before you fire your messages into the marketplace? Actually, the steps are not very complicated. And once you begin to see the positive results of taking a systematic approach, it can even become fun.
Here's a simplified version of some questions in the steps, as introduced in our Marketing Audit:
Question #1: Who should you be reaching?
Who is most likely to become a profitable customer? Who has a need as well as the ability to buy and why would they be interested? How many of them are there in your marketing area? Don't forget to include in this question those people who influence your customers and prospects. Key question: how much are you willing to pay for one of these new, profitable customers?
Question #2. How And Where Do You Find Them?
What are their characteristics? Can you profile their demographics: age, sex, education level, family status, income, etc.? Psychographics are a major factor in response...what do they read? Watch? Listen to?
Ergraphics can play a major role in determining relevance to an audience...what kind of work do they do? What is their type of education, job title, area of responsibilities, etc.?
Where do your clients go when looking for solutions to the kinds of problems you solve? Are you to be found there?
Question #3. Why Will They Respond?
What kind of offer will motivate them to buy? What "value" will meet their needs? What kind of problems do they have that you can solve? How do they normally buy your type of product? Is a demonstration necessary? Will a guarantee overcome skepticism?
Question #4. How Do You Create Meaningful Dialogue? (Propaganda Is Only A Monologue.)
How do you talk to prospective customers in a meaningful way? What can you do to stimulate a response and start a productive dialogue? What do you need to do or say to be credible? To be believable?
How do you set the stage for additional purchases? Advertising is often only the first step in a lengthy and complex sales process. If you try to do too much in any one stage, the results can be disappointing.
Question #5. How Do You Test The Effectiveness Of Your Ads?
Do you "code" them and measure response to each variation? Between media? At different times? If you are to continuously improve your advertising efforts, you must build in the ability to "learn" from previous efforts. Whether it's radio, magazine, T.V., internet, newspaper or direct mail, when you make an offer that elicits a response, measuring success is easy.
Since you've read this far, it should be clear to you that we do believe in advertising, especially direct response advertising. But in order to work properly, advertising must be approached correctly: properly planned, carefully created and systematically executed.
Advertising does work for the people who do their homework. In fact, with proper planning and careful execution, direct response advertising can become a virtual "Marketing Machine" that will always work for you. It's a competitive edge you can't afford to overlook.