The Monday Morning Memo: Why Most Ads Don't Work

Monday-Morning-Memo-Logo1By Roy H. Williams

Most advertising isn’t working like it should. And in most instances, the blame lies entirely with the advertiser.

Most advertisers insist on repetitiously cramming the name of their company, the name of their product, their business hours and their street address into every ad they buy. Such ads do a great job of answering the “who, what, when and where” questions while failing to answer the customer’s question, “Why?” The simple truth is that most advertisers sound like a mob of two-year-olds in a day-care center, each one jumping and crying, “Me! Me! Me! Watch me! Look at me!”

It may hurt you to hear this, but I’ve got to say it anyway because I care about you: “Bad advertising is about the advertiser. Good advertising is about the customer.”  No, this is not just a new way of saying that you should focus your ads on the benefits of your product rather than on its features.  I’m saying that you should focus your ads entirely on your customer. Remember: the customer isn’t interested in your address or phone number until after you’ve convinced them of why they should care.  Do your ads convincingly answer the customer’s question, “Why?” or do they speak only about you, your products, your prices, your street address and phone number? Need an example of what I mean? Okay. Here’s a typical “advertiser focused” ad:

“At Used Car Warehouse, you’ll find a huge selection of clean, late model cars to fit any budget and nobody will give you more for your trade-in than Used Car Warehouse.  Imports and domestics, sports cars and luxury cars, pickups and SUV’s, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for at Used Car Warehouse, open from 9 to 9, seven days a week at 5210 East Bolivar. Financing available with approved credit. Call Used Car Warehouse at 867-57-16. That number again is  867-57-16.”

Now here’s a “customer focused” ad for the same advertiser:

“From the moment you slipped the key into the ignition, you knew that this was your car. You love the way it feels on the road… in the corners… at the stoplights… Admit it; you even like the way people turn their heads to watch as you drive by… (Second Voice) There is one perfect car for every person in the world… And yours is waiting for you, right now, at Used Car Warehouse, 52nd and Bolivar.”

To make this radio script into a TV ad, all video images would need to be shot from the perspective of a driver looking out of a moving vehicle. We would show neither the vehicle nor the driver since our goal is to cause the customer to imagine himself or herself behind the wheel, experiencing all the things that we’re describing.

Are you beginning to catch on?

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