Tag Archives: purchase decision

Time for a change?

It’s the end of the year, and the economy hasn’t rebounded to where consumers feel like there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. Forecasts for 2010 call for more of the same, at least in the first six months or so. Some feel it will take years to shake off the dust of this recession.

So what does a marketer do heading into 2010? Budgets are tight. Accountability, ROI, and metrics are the buzzwords that matter.

In 2009, only two media categories showed gains: internet display ads, up 7 percent, and freestanding inserts (FSIs), up 3.9 percent. I understand both being up, since they’re measurable in terms of returns. The internet also gives an advertiser the ability to change copy frequently to find out what’s working. However, last I looked, the click-through rate for internet display ads was hovering just under 0.1%. That’s one click (and only a click) for every 1,000 ads served (it doesn’t even take into account what the clicker does when he/she gets to the site). And can someone, anyone, tell me the last banner ad they remember? I hate to say it, but the internet is the SAFE way to advertise. And I never expected to say that.

Change is in the offing. But what does that change entail? It entails thinking differently and altering behavior. It entails a different mindset. If your results are flat, and I’ve heard that flat is the new up, then you probably need to change. Contrary to popular belief, flat is NOT up. Flat means you’re in the same spot. And the real metric that counts is sales. Engagement is fine as long as you can generate a sale from it. When was the last time you heard a salesperson say, “My engagements were up last month, but my sales were flat”?

There’s a saying that drastic times call for drastic measures. While some may feel that drastic change is necessary, I think that small, significant changes can have very dynamic effects on a marketer’s approach. Maybe it’s a shift from one medium to another or into a medium you’ve not used before. It may be a shift in how you schedule activity, or it might be a more tactical shift to supporting only very select trade shows or conferences.

In any event it’s a change in how you approach things. There’s a lot of opportunity out there. But we need to change focus if we are to truly see those opportunities. One of the effects of this recession has been a paralysis of sorts on a marketer’s ability to be bold. And these times call for bold action. The time for the “safe” approach is past. Safe gets you “flat.”

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Advertising doesn’t work on me

With family holiday dinners looming, I’m bracing myself for the inevitable conversation:

Hey, have you seen that new ad for ________? (insert the name of any cell phone provider, car or insurance company).  I thought the commercial was cool, but I have never bought (cell phone service, a car, an insurance policy) because I saw an ad.  Advertising doesn’t work on me.

My answer? The advertiser didn’t expect you to buy any of those things because you saw the ad . . .  but it did work.

I usually get shocked looks in return.  Don’t advertising people make a living using fancy pictures and catchy music to trick innocent people into buying things they don’t need?   Wasn’t that what happened in all those episodes of Bewitched, 30 Something, Melrose Place (circa 1992), and Mad Men?

The truth is, advertisers don’t see consumers as mindless lemmings, jumping one after the other to purchase every product they see on TV.  As David Ogilvy once said (in an admittedly sexist manner), “The customer is not a moron — she is your wife.”

So even if you didn’t run out and buy a new sports car after you saw the ad, why do I say the advertising worked?  Because the goal of advertising for higher-priced, infrequent purchases is to put the product on your radar in anticipation of the day when you need a new car, have experienced one too many dropped phone calls or want a better rate on your insurance.  Smart marketers will have a host of other tools to help you make an informed purchase decision once you are actively thinking about buying, but for now all they want you to do is remember their brand.

Go ahead and feel free to buy something you see in an ad today; you won’t be turned away.  But if all you do is remember to ask me about the commercial over Thanksgiving dinner; it has more than done its job.  Now, please pass the mashed potatoes.

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