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Advertising and you – Part 4 of 4

Where are we going wrong?

It’s easy to criticise

Let’s face it, we all do it and we all do it quite a lot of the time. We all sit in our comfortable armchairs passing critical judgements on people, generally who have far more talent and success than we have. Think about the last sporting event you watched...

I am as guilty of this as anyone and I am writing this article as a way of redressing the balance somewhat. I hope.

To be more constructive

We have looked at the state of advertising, the Boomerang Curve and where problems may be lining up for us in the future. Spotting the issue is one thing, how to avoid it is less obvious.

If you are reviewing your marketing strategy, the chances are you are considering the three basic questions that your audience will be asking:

  1. Who?

  2. What?

  3. Why?

(By the way, if you are not considering these fundamental questions, you really need to stop and rethink)

Pretty simple stuff on the face of it but, if you cannot answer these questions satisfactorily and IN ORDER, you have a problem. If you play Dungeons and Dragons this sequential question and answer process should be second nature of course but, for the rest of us, well we probably have lives.

The first question ‘Who or, more completely, who are you?’ is becoming more challenging as media channels become flooded with low-grade, low-cost messaging and the resultant noise drowns out all but the biggest and loudest. We have seen this time and time again (that pesky Boomerang Curve) and we can see it now, if we just pause for a moment and look at the market.

If you don’t have the budgets of a Coca Cola, Procter & Gamble or L’Oreal (yes you are worth it apparently) you need to maximise the impact of your communications, not just follow the herd and get lost in the general melee.

It’s clear that you need to capture your audience’s attention at this critical initial point if you are to take your target to the second question. We will look more closely at how we address that issue later but, for now, I am sure you are keen to jump forward so, here is the second question:

What do you have that may interest me?

So, what do you have? Do not underestimate this question. The easy answer is, of course, your product or services. Not good enough. Your competition, by definition, offers similar products or services, so how do you differentiate yourself and build (or maintain) interest?

This is the tricky stage. Actually, they are all tricky but this is the stage at which so many companies go straight to talking about themselves. Like the party bore who can’t stop telling you about their new house/car/holiday/job/salary/conquest ad nauseam, this self-centred focus will rapidly alienate an audience and deliver them directly into the hands of your competition. “Excuse me, I have just seen my old friend Bill come in, I must nip over and say hello”. Used (or heard) this before? You don’t actually know anyone called Bill do you.

If, instead, you consider the perspective of your audience and put yourself in their shoes, you should find that your offering provides a solution to a need or a problem. Now you have something of interest and a reason to open the conversation.

Engage with your audience and do it in a way that is different from everyone else. Show that you care and understand. Show that you can help.

But, and here is the key thought, you need to be able to prove you can deliver. What you say must be true! Get this wrong and you will never reach the third question.

Let’s assume you have captured attention, engaged delightfully, delivered your messages and are ready for the last hurdle. ‘Why should I believe what you say?

You can’t relax yet. You must convince your audience to do something and the mistake most often made is to tell the audience not show them. You have seen it so many times. Companies tend to talk about the fact that they are “the biggest, the best, the most experienced, the most successful etc” and it is totally meaningless.

If your audience response could be “well you would say that wouldn’t you” your message has failed. You have not SHOWN them, you have TOLD them and you have lost your opportunity to communicate because, well you would say that wouldn’t you.

It’s a tortuous game. At each stage there are many opportunities to get it wrong and drop the ball but, with the right strategy and creative approach, you can not only capture the attention of a prospect but also engage and lead them to a point of action.

I will be happy to show you the way if you need help

David Acton

+44 (0) 1780 322 101

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