Why do you advertise? To generate buzz? To be get target-customers to like your advertising? To inform? Entertain? Do you advertise because that’s what is expected of marketing? Because it’s part of your job description? Perhaps, you advertise because it’s what the business has always done? Is it to generate awareness? Inspire you sales force? Why? Why? Why?
If you viewed the NCAA basketball tournament you undoubtedly saw ads from Capital One featuring former NBA All-Star (selected as “one of the 50-greatest basketball players of all time) and analyst Charles Barkley, Academy Award nominated and highest grossing total film actor of all time Samuel L. Jackson and multiple award-winning director, producer, writer and actor Spike Lee. Each of the ads tied into the NCAA tournament and served to entertain its viewers.
This “flanker” campaign was a form of “advertainment,” advertising that entertains or entertainment that overshadows advertising, so to speak. Charles Barkley provides the humor in his portrayal of a buffoon. (Don’t let them paint you in that corner Charles!) There is no meaningful link to Capital One. No message regarding the benefits of the Capital One card no less Capital One itself. No meaningful brand linkage. It’s 30-second of airtime without a message and consequently, we believe, without impact and without a favorable ROI (Return on Investment).
Some might argue that the Capital One advertising is “creative.” But as David Ogilvy, a legend in the world of advertising, stated: “It’s not creative unless it sells.” Thus, we come to why we advertise.
What is Advertising?
Perhaps, we should define advertising since current definitions link it to the use of “traditional media,” namely television and print, to puff-up or hype your product. Marketers, influenced by their organizations, who have come to see advertising this way basically have brought the term and its practice into disfavor. Instead, they’ve come to favor digital solutions that they tell themselves is not advertising. It’s “digital,” “new media” or whatever. Well, it may be digital, and it may be new media, but we certainly believe it is a form of advertising.
We take a broader definition of advertising. To us advertising is “promoting your relevant point-of-difference benefit versus competitors in a way that wins the hearts of minds of your target-customers to achieve intended behaviors.” The table below explains the meaning behind our definition:
|your relevant point-of-difference versus competition||Focuses on your meaningful differentiation that is relevant to your target-customer which must be explicitly or implicitly competitive to drive preference|
|in a way||Irrespective of form (e.g., video, text, live demo, etc.) or medium (It is not limited to any media. It is boundless!)|
|that wins the hearts and minds of your target-customers||Goes beyond the intellect and rationalization of the mind to evoke feeling of realization of the benefit so it is compelling to target -customers|
|to achieve intended behaviors.||Stimulates target-customers to switch to your offering, adopt it, use it more frequently, whatever the behavior you need to register a purchase, prescription or use to achieve your business goals (sales, market share and profit)|
Purpose of Advertising
Advertising is employed to help transform products into brands, create favorable perceptions and stimulate target-customer behaviors to ring the cash register. It is not to capture attention, generate awareness, educate, etc. These are merely elements to ensure the message is received to effect behaviors. The purpose of advertising is, ultimately, to bolster sales. Evidence of the level of its effectiveness is the incremental impact it has on sales and market share growth and ability to deliver a favorable ROI.
We believe the purpose of advertising is contained in our broader definition.
- Regardless of the form or delivery vehicle if it promotes your message to achieve intended behaviors and resultant sales then its advertising.
- Regardless of the form or delivery vehicle if it is not intended to promote sales it is not advertising.
- And, regardless of the form or delivery vehicle if it is intended to drive sales but it does not it is failed advertising.
Repurpose your Advertising
If your advertising isn’t creating a sales impact and/or lacks a favorable ROI it is time to repurpose your advertising. Some actions for your consideration include:
- Do your strategic homework to identify an advantage – This is about choosing an appropriate target-customer, digging to discover a legitimate and productive customer insight and delivering a relevant, meaningfully differentiated benefit (about the Brand, the Whole Product, experience, creating a badge, compelling reason-to-believe support, etc.) to the target to achieve a SMART Advertising Objective.
- Identify a SMART Advertising Objective – This is, as we’ve written about many times, a Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant (to Business Objectives) and Time-bound goal of intended target-customer behaviors (such as switching, increasing usage and purchase frequency, compliance, etc). While virtually all marketers and their agencies know this acronym, few employ it or do it correctly. There is no stated purpose without a properly articulated and thought-out Advertising Objective. And if we don’t identify the purpose of our advertising how can we expect it to work or know if it is working.
- Measure results – Regardless of the form or delivery vehicle you choose measure the effect of your advertising on achieving your SMART Advertising Objective. We should measure both impact on sales and market share growth, and ROI.
- Change your thinking about advertising – Advertising is promotion to transform products into brands, create favorable impressions that trigger target-customer behaviors and ring the cash register. It is not limited to a form or delivery vehicle. It applies to all ways of promoting your message to generate sales. Understand and apply what Keith Reinhard, Chairman Emeritus of DDB Worldwide, stated regarding how we should think about advertising. He said, “There’s a difference between:
- Buzz and Brand
- Contact and Connection
- Algorithm and Human Insight
- Big Data and BIG Ideas”
We agree with Mr. Reinhard. Direct your advertising at creating a brand by making a connection via a relevant, meaningfully differentiated benefit delivered in a BIG Idea based on a human insight and you’ve gone a long way to achieving the purpose of advertising – impacting sales and market share and delivering an attractive ROI. We hope you will agree with him and what we shared with you!
Best wishes in repurposing your advertising to impact sales and market share, and deliver a favorable ROI,
Richard Czerniawski and Mike Maloney