By Roy H. Williams
These are the 5 questions you must answer before you can know how soon your ads will start working:
Q. 1: What percentage of the noise made in your category – in all the different media combined - is being made by you? This is your Share of Voice.
Q. 2: What percentage of the population will actively be in the market for your product or service this week? This is your Product Purchase Cycle.
Food has a very short Product Purchase Cycle. The shorter the Product Purchase Cycle, the quicker your ad campaign will reach maximum ROI.
Cars have a medium-length Product Purchase Cycle. The average American trades cars every 180 weeks (42 months.) Consequently, 0.55 percent of us will buy or lease a car this week. (Does this mean that anyone who advertises cars is wasting 99.45 percent of his investment?)
That’s right; 180 weeks (42 months) is a medium-length product purchase cycle. What do you suppose is the Product Purchase Cycle for HVAC system replacement? Engagement rings? Furniture? Products with longer purchase cycles require more time for their ad campaigns to ramp up to their full potential. These campaigns usually show poor results during the first 90 to 150 days then begin to deliver increasingly good results until the growth curve begins to flatten out about halfway through the Purchase Cycle. If the purchase cycle is 10 years, the campaign will start slow, then generate increasingly good results until it levels off in about 5 years. You will then have to continue advertising just to maintain the market share you’ve achieved. If relevant new information is not injected into the campaign at this time, the advertiser will become frustrated and disgruntled and begin to say things like, “Our ads aren’t as good as they used to be,” or “I don’t think we’re reaching the right people.”
Q. 3: How many people will ever be in the market for this product or service? What percentage of the public will ever consider this product to be relevant? A high percentage of the public will someday need a refrigerator, furniture, HVAC system replacement and an engagement ring. The best strategy for advertisers such as these is for them to use relevance and repetition to become the provider the customer thinks of first and feels the best about.
But what about fine formal china, such as Royal Doulton at $100 per place setting and the solid silver tableware that accompanies it? What percentage of today’s public will ever be in the market for these?
Q. 4: What degree of credible urgency does your ad contain? Is there any reason for the customer to take action now? You can shorten a Product Purchase Cycle by making a strong offer that is time-limited or quantity-limited. If you create a once-in-a-lifetime offer for a product with a long purchase cycle, you’ll likely move a number of people into the market who would otherwise have purchased at a later date. If your offer is powerful and credible, you’ll see great success. But don’t take a good thing too far; the more often you do this, the less well it will work. Sadly, the success of this “urgency” technique makes it highly addictive. Almost without exception, the advertiser who makes a once-in-a-lifetime offer will choose to make a similar, once-in-a-lifetime offer within a year. Soon his “sale” ads lose all credibility and his customers will begin to ask, “When does this go on sale?” God help us. We pushed a good thing too far and we’ve trained the customer NOT to buy unless we’re promoting a massive discount.
Marketing is tricky. It almost makes you want to hit yourself in the head with a hammer sometimes, doesn’t it?
Q. 5: What is your Competitive Environment? In other words, how well are your competitors known? How good are they at what you do? Your ads are not the only ads your customer will see and hear. Is a competitor making a more powerful offer than you?
Share of Voice can be purchased. Share of Mind must be earned.
Share of Voice is the percentage of noise in the marketplace that is yours. Share of Mind is the mental real estate you have purchased in consciousness of your customer.
Share of Voice times Relevance equals Share of Mind.
Frequent repetition of your ads will earn you a higher Share of Voice. But a big Share of Voice times zero Relevance equals zero Share of Mind and zero results.
Most advertisers talk in their ads about what the customer should care about, what they ought to care about, instead of what they actually care about.
If you remember nothing else from today’s memo, remember these two things and you’ll do well:
1. Clarity is more important than creativity.
2. Relevance is more important than repetition.
NOTE: I did NOT say that creativity and repetition don’t count.