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Saturday, Jan 28, 2023
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Keep Advertising Positive, Benefit Focused

Next month we are going to begin our series on communication audits (I promise!), but today we’re going to take a look at two growing and dangerous trends in advertising. One is age old and one is relatively new. However, both are easy traps to fall into and both are ineffective. First, concerning the recession and stimulus package: We get it. We know there’s a recession and that times are tough. You don’t need to spend your precious marketing dollars reminding us. Do you want us thinking about our present financial and economic challenges, or your product, service, store or discount? Opening your ad (print or electronic) with a reference to the economy wastes your precious seconds or column inches and puts the recipient in the wrong frame of mind. Do you really think there’s a single citizen that doesn’t know that times are tough? On a basic level, are your customers and prospects more likely to buy from someone who is optimistic and focused on success, or from a company that highlights the negative? Second, enough with the marginal athletes, minor entertainment celebrities and personality-challenged CEOs. I know it’s tempting for an agency to curry favor by asking the company’s CEO to star in an ad: “Hi, I’m old and boring but I have a huge ego, so I’m appearing in my own ad. I wish we had a great feature to highlight, but since we don’t, here I stand.” Ask yourself, have you ever bought a product or service because an unknown CEO has asked you to? I didn’t think so. It is also tempting (for reasons surpassing understanding) to ask B-list actors or washed-up athletes to pitch your product. This is usually a result of “someone knowing someone that we can get” and confusing minor celebrity with an ability to pitch a product. Unless the celebrity is directly related to the product, you are spending your marketing dollars to set up a trivia session: “What have we seen her in?” or “Who did he used to play for?” If your cable spot prompts the following “Hey, honey, didn’t he used to be somebody?” you’re wasting your money! This is the professional equivalent of high school student council candidates putting “SEX!” at the top of their campaign posters. It may get people to turn their heads, but it didn’t get the kids’ votes back then and it doesn’t generate sales now that they’re grown up. Both of these ploys are masking the real problem. Either your product or service has no saleable features and benefits, or your agency isn’t creative enough to get your customers and prospects interested. Now, more than ever, your advertising and marketing dollars should be invested in telling potential customers the benefits of buying from you, and reminding your existing customers that they are making a good decision. Is your product faster, cheaper, newer, bluer? Do you have the best service in the world, more stores, a better return policy and a stronger guarantee? Is your company the first, the oldest, the newest, the biggest or “the only?” Ask yourself a very simple question; “Why would someone want to buy my product or service?” I promise you that the answer is never because you reminded them about the current economic crisis, or because you hired a minor celebrity, in no way associated with your industry, to pitch your product. If you don’t have a good answer to this question, you need to take another look at your product or service. However, assuming there is a good answer, you have the beginnings of your marketing/advertising campaign. Americans are inundated with close to 5,000 marketing messages every day. We are watching our expenditures, both at work and at home, more closely than we have in years. But, despite what the nightly news tells us, many of us (both individuals and companies) have money to spend. Successful marketing campaigns (easily defined as those that increase sales) always have one common component they give the audience a reason to buy. Scott Harris is the owner of Mustang Marketing, a full-service marketing agency serving the San Fernando Valley for more than 20 years. You can reach Scott at Scott@ MustangMktg.com or visit www.Mustang Mktg.com.

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