I had a conversation recently that centered around my supposed dislike of advertising. I say supposed because I don’t feel any genuine dislike of advertising as a practice. For ages it has been the building block for many different kinds of businesses. And it will continue to resonate throughout our society regardless, thought it will surely evolve.
I do have a problem with blindly spending money in hopes of getting a return. Additionally, I dislike interrupting people with unwanted messages and assuming that my offering holds relevance because they happen to be in a certain space at a certain time. There has to be a better way. There is a better way. Then again, I’ve not worked for a company that uses broadcast media as a normal practice yet; though I plan to. So eventually I will be a part of using TV, radio, print, billboards and other advertising to market. It’s not the mediums that upset me. It’s the ignorance. And the majority of advertisers (agency workers) I’ve met have a good grasp on this concept.
I should probably do a more formal review of this book, because it changed everything for me. Permission Marketing (by Seth Godin) is the best marketing book I’ve ever read. For me it altered the way I saw marketing and advertising. Why we are doing what we are doing. Marketing isn’t playing within the rules that other corporations have won the game with. It is the practice of providing value to the people who purchase or may purchase your offerings as well as making them aware of that value. Assuming that doing what other companies do and following trends just because is foolish beyond reason.
So where does advertising come in? Well it worked extremely well for a long time. When TV was a new medium and it was guaranteed that people would be watching your ads, it was a gold rush. And it built brands into the incredible company monoliths they are today. But everything is changing. Changed. Those days are gone. Advertising is still and will probably always be a viable marketing strategy. But it is no longer the end all of marketing. And those who simply assume that creating a large advertising campaign will produce continually returning patrons regardless of the product are a huge loss. That’s when I get angry, because it’s such a joke. Because making something creative isn’t the yellow brick road. Creativity in advertising doesn’t provide much (if any) value to consumers. The product does. And developing a strategy to create awareness of that value to people can be done in many ways, including ads.
I don’t hate advertising. I hate ignorance of the modern consumer. We are too well adjusted to start drooling over a Snickers bar because you have a weird enough commercial to catch my attention for 12 of those expensive 30 you paid for. And I usually think that I can do more with a few million dollars to achieve marketing objectives than buying a Super Bowl ad. And the “No” sign up there isn’t for ads. It’s for ignorance and blind assumption.
Then again. I haven’t had to do it. When I get my chance, though, I’m going in with eyes wide open.