There isn't a week that goes by when a client doesn't
question the value of their advertising and the true impact of an
advertised sale event.
My response is often that the message was right,
but the medium was wrong. You can't sell corporate image in print.
You cannot sell price and item during a 30-second television advertisement
because time precludes you from listing more than two items!
Additionally, many retailers try to shout the same
message week after week and can't figure out why their advertising
efficiency declines very quickly. These "unguided" advertising
missiles sometime hit their target, but more often they explode
From the consumer's viewpoint, they perceive newspaper
as a price and item vehicle. Circulars, tabloids and broadsheets
are sensation vehicles. Radio does a great job selling urgency,
and television is a magnificent way to educate the market and to
make a sale a sale event. Direct mailing is a personal form of advertising
ideally targeted with a special offer.
Each advertising vehicle is unsurpassed in its area
of impact. However, putting the wrong message in a powerful vehicle
like TV can reduce the advertising efficiency by as much as 80%.
What does the production value of a TV ad tell today's
consumer? Due to the absence of name brands in the home remodeling
industry, the production value of a television ad represents 53%
of that store's quality image. The appliance and electronics stores'
TV production value creates 38 to 40% of their stores' quality image.
A high-end furniture store does serious damage to
its quality image when it allows its television advertising to be
at par with its moderately priced competition. Also, a moderately
priced store can improve its position in the marketplace by investing
more dollars in its television ads.
The secret here is that a second or third place retailer
can displace the top store because TV educates not only with verbal
messages but also with the way it is produced.
With consumers going to fewer stores and more shoppers
buying at the first store in which they shop, advertising gurus
strive to create urgency in their advertising and hopefully not
offend the senses of the targeted audience. Many retailers abuse
this urgency message by putting too many "greatest one-day
sales" within a short advertising calendar, leaving the customer
to question the validity of the message and its messenger.
Radio is the best vehicle to sell urgency. By tapping
into a listener's imagination, the retailer can produce an urgency
level that makes the final day or days of a sale the biggest of
a month-long campaign.
However, keep in mind the customer driven by urgency
is also the one who is mostly instant gratification driven. So he
or she will not settle for a sale where little is in stock and merchandise
requires special order.
In today's competitive environment some degree of
urgency is critical in all sale advertising. Messages can be delivered
in many ways from "time is running out," to a special
purchase with limited quantities, to selling from samples and so
Urgency is the underlying message in effective sale
advertising because it makes a customer prioritize your store in
the sea of retail stores selling the same product category.
In my book Predatory Marketing I propose this
retail treatise: "Be first. Be right. Or be dead!" This
message is more true today than it was when I wrote my book in the
second half of 1996.
Consider the alarming fact that in 1980 consumers
shopping for furniture went to more than four stores and 38% bought
at the first store they shopped. Today that same consumer, who has
much less time, visits no more than three stores with as many as
71% buying at the first store for certain furniture products.
The demise of many fine local independents is based
in those above figures. In prior years a retailer who was a customer's
third or fourth choice could get enough shoppers to generate an
acceptable sales level for the store. No more! Today that store
will have at least 40% less store traffic if they are a customer's
third or fourth choices.
Americans are "time short." They want their
first store to have what they are looking for and 74% of furniture
shoppers are planning to buy at the first store they visit.
With a third or fourth place store seeing at least
40% fewer shoppers, a second-place store today will see a 15% decline
in store traffic compared to five to seven years ago.
That is why I tell my clients, "You are either
the hunter or the target." If you cannot become your customers'
first choice, you have a defective marketing strategy which will
lead you to see fewer and fewer shoppers in the years ahead.
Too many advertising managers or agencies don't want
to be measured, so they never create any mileposts along the way
to see how well you are progressing down that advertising highway.
A store with a new image campaign should see a measurable
difference within 45 days and often within 30 days. Few companies
face the tough dilemma that Ford experienced years ago when their
quality negative was so bad they recognized it would take at least
two years to see any benefit from their "Quality is Job One"
The one who creates this new image should identify
the core issues that make a company unique as well as a time line
which will tell the retailer how quickly it should see results.
If the group behind a new campaign is unable to develop a way to
measure performance, fire them! Find someone else who is truly committed
to their recommended strategy for your company.
I have told many clients over the years, "Whether
you like the campaign is not as important as you understanding the
objectives for it." If you can't figure out the objective,
it is likely your customer can't either.
Every advertising element must have a purpose that
Why do so many campaigns fail? No one could agree
on the objective to the campaign, and it reflected this confusion.
Advertising must have a clear objective with a measurable target.
According to our research the failure of most advertising
rests on the lack of understanding of this basic principle.