by Roy H. Williams
The next time someone tells you an advertising success story, especially if that success was online, ask to see the ad - the content - that triggered it.
Here’s a Really Big Tip for you. You might want to write this down:
“The media doesn’t make the ad work. The ad makes the media work.”
I’m spending a lot of time these days fielding questions about online marketing. The most fervent of these petitioners are the ones who talk about the amazing response they’ve seen on FaceBook.
“Does everything you post trigger a big response?”
“No, but when it does work, Wow! It’s awesome.”
“Show me something you posted that triggered a lot of interest.”
Guess what I’ve learned from these encounters? FaceBook friends pass along only those things they find to be remarkable. And it’s always the message - the content - that is remarked upon. Jeff Greenspan of Buzzfeed says it clearly: “Nobody wants to be a shill for your brand, but they are happy to share information and content that helps them promote their own identity.”
Do you sometimes visit a website and then see banner ads for that same company everywhere you go for the next several days? Congratulations, you’ve been “retargeted.”
Retargeting is the shiny new object in advertising. (Google’s version of it is called Remarketing but it’s essentially the same thing.) Retargeting reminds me of a boy who stalks a girl after a bad first date, saying, “Give me another chance. Give me another chance. Give me another chance. Give me another chance...”
A better solution, in my opinion, is to not blow the first date.
Spend your time creating a remarkable offer. When your message is right, whatever media you choose to deliver that message is going to perform like nothing you’ve ever seen.
BOOM. Success story.
You can sell tickets to watch the fireworks.
Bruce Feiler in the New York Times reported a few days ago that a recent study of two billion web visits found that 55 percent of readers spent fewer than 15 seconds on a page.
Evidently, David Ogilvy’s decades-old observation remains correct:
“Five times as many people read the headline as read the first line of body copy. So when you’ve written your headline, you’ve spent 83 percent of your ad budget.”
Scan. Note. Move on.
Scan. Note. Probe. Disconnect. Move on.
Scan. Note. Probe. Double-check. Bingo. One-click. Here in 2 days.
Ten websites attracted this shopper but only one of them made the sale.
Q: What did the others do wrong?
A: They focused too much on technology to reach the shopper and too little on what to say after they met.
Advertising Doesn’t Fail. Ads Fail.
Small business owners are drowning in sales pitches telling them they can “reach the perfect target” digitally. I don’t dispute that claim in the slightest. But each of the nine websites that didn’t make the sale “reached the perfect target,” didn’t they? What did it get them?
That New York Times story about 2 billion page visits goes on to say,
“In the last few years, there has been a revolution so profound that it’s sometimes hard to miss its significance. We are awash in numbers. Data is everywhere. Old-fashioned things like words are in retreat; numbers are on the rise. Unquantifiable arenas like history, literature, religion and the arts are receding from public life, replaced by technology, statistics, science and math. Even the most elemental form of communication, the story, is being pushed aside by the list.”
Let me say this plainly: Wizard Academy will forever remain a guardian of the “unquantifiable arenas,” like history, literature, religion and the arts. We will keep up with technology, but we’ll never look to it for wisdom, emotion, persuasion or humanity.
Marketing Miracles are far more often the result of finding a better story than of finding a better technology. Marshall McLuhan was wrong. The media is just the media. The message is the message.