When Advertising is only a Marginal Factor in their Marketing Mix …

I avoid clients for whom advertising is only a marginal factor in their marketing mix. They have an awkward tendency to raid their advertising appropriations whenever they need cash for other purposes.  ~ David Ogilvy

Perhaps I was unfortunate to meet such clueless clients.

Advertising is seen as a marginal factor in their marketing mix. These people just do the bare minimum (from understanding their own product and market place to briefing and allocating marketing communication budget to folks like us) and then conveniently lay the blame on us when they do not receive massive returns. Sure, there are incidents where clients reap abundance for peanuts but that’s a rarity rather than a norm. If it were so easy, top companies wouldn’t pay big money for marketing research, creative, media planning, PR, etc! Unrealistic demands plus unrealistic expectations spell disaster to a fruitful working relationship. I can understand that all clients want us to create miracles for them. However, how to make solid, hardy bricks with a few straws? I’d be all ears if someone will teach me

These clients don’t really know which direction their company is headed and totally clueless of their SWOT against market competition. Sure, they produce lots of PowerPoint charts to tell their bosses what’s happening in the market place. Yet, they stop short of deciding the marketing direction they should sail to rise above the tide. They say to their bosses, “We’ll discuss with the agency”.

I suppose I ought to be appreciative and say “thank you” for their business. And, yes, I do appreciate the cheque when it comes in. However, I dd not like being the convenient scape goat. They are a conservative bunch who prefer to stick to whatever that were done previously. On top of that they have an equally conservative boss who is simply afraid to take baby steps into the new frontier. In the big corporate world, sticking your neck out could be equal to having your head on the chopping board when things go south. When everyone is moving towards online and mobile advertising, they adamantly stick to the traditional mode. They say no to online advertising, no to mobile advertising, no to social media marketing and rather lukewarm in making their website mobile compliant. Not that they have unshaken faith in traditional media, they are more afraid of doing the new things (which could be the wrong thing) and be blamed if results are lackluster. I’m certainly not against traditional marketing. In fact, I am still actively campaigning for it. LOL, we still encourage certain clients to adopt fax advertising as it does bring in results from some niches.

So, OK, we’ll stick to traditional media since our advice are not deemed appropriate. Like it or not, the client is the boss if we choose to keep the account.  While we do our best to work smart, and hard, on marketing traditional media, they decided that the economy hasn’t really recover from the heydays hence spending wisely is a must. Now, I agree with that. Investing wisely with whatever marcom budget a client has – lean or fat. You don’t necessarily have to borrow  money to market and promote your wares. Fighting guerrilla warfare when others are doing a full fledged war is certainly acceptable. Well, Mao won China. The Viets did not let the Americans have their way. However I cannot agree on cutting out copywriter to use their trashy ad copy. I’m not apologetic at all in calling their copy “trash” because that’s what it is.  And no, I cannot agree on repeating the same old TV commercial that’s has been aired for the last few years. Come on, that celebrity we used has aged just like all mortals. How can they say with conviction that their cream and potion are effective when I can see fish lines at the corner of the celebrity’s eyes now?

All I’m asking is for the client to do their homework and have the guts to take a stand. And we’ll do our best to get them the results they desire and make them look really cool before their bosses. When advertising is seen as a marginal factor in their marketing mix, when the agency is conveniently made a scapegoat, rest assured that the client will not smell as a rose either.

New Products need People to Survive

It used to be that people needed products to survive. Now products need people to survive. ~Nicholas Johnson

Not surprising, with consumerism being the norm these days.

I used to have a green fan sitting on my desk. I remember my father used to take it apart every fortnight to give it a thorough wipe down and wash the metal casing to prevent any rusting. That green fan faithfully served me through out my years in elementary school and beyond. Only when I was in high school did my father retire it with regrets.

Back then, things were built to last. Not any more. For the last 10 years, I believe I have bought more than 6 to 7 fans. Somehow, they don’t last as long as my faithful green fan. And no, I didn’t turn abusive as I age. I’m one of those rare specimen who still believe in sending damaged products for repairs. Even when I have to dump beyond-repair goods, I usually place them in recycle bins.

Naturally, my mum laments “Things are not sturdy any more.” She has a similar experience. After her 26-year-old Kelvinator refrigerator died of old age, she also had to replace her fridge once every two or three years.

My answer to mum is “If things were build to last. Many people will be out of a job.”.

With consumerism raging and the promiscuity of consumers who prefer to have the newest model, newest look, newest toy in the town, it behooves the old brands to update themselves regularly to stay in touch with their customers’ swaying loyalty. As for the new kid on the block, the products basically must be of good quality, look great and price well. Otherwise, good luck!

Advertising works the way the grass grow

We find that advertising works the way the grass grows. You can never see it, but every week you have to mow the lawn. ~ Andy Travis

Sadly, many marketers – whether on the agency or client side – don’t look at it that way. They would think hard and work hard to get a really good idea and execute it. Voila, it works. Everyone celebrates and leaves it as is because  the good old adage says “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Technically, nothing wrong with keeping the same advertisement if the message is still relevant. However, there are other things to consider. Are the images, words, tone of voices relevant to the fashion of the day? I remembered seeing a pharmaceutical company’s TVC year after year during Christmas season since I was in high school. The product is reputable, the message is relevant, however, everything in the commercial looks dated ! After 20 years, even the dashing actor that did the commercial don’t look as suave and cool.

Plus, seldom will one single advertisement make a product and its owner a household name. It usually takes the full works including advertising, promotions, public relations, sales, customer relations management to sustain that much envious position right at the top of the pinnacle. So that vitamin product I was talking earlier survives, however, it doesn’t enjoy as strong a following it once enjoyed. Marketing take consistent and continuous efforts.

Sometimes, I’m really frustrated when the client chose to do ad hoc marketing because “this isn’t the season to do any marketing” or “I prefer to do guerrilla marketing because I don’t have a big budget”. Sure, I understand seasonal marketing. However, I do not subscribe to the notion that he can literally stop listening to , speaking to and caring for your customers and go hibernating in the cave. There is lots of post-sale activities and customer relationship management is certainly one area he can concentrate on. My understanding of Jay Conrad Levinson’s guerrilla marketing is about having a unique, engaging and thought-provoking concept to generate buzz, and seek cooperation with other businesses to grow the business. As far as I know, it’s not simply about doing something now, stop, and then picking up later.

To me, marketing is the pulse of business and that means it is an ever continuous process. Similar to the Energizer Bunny, marketing should be kept going, going, going and going – even during hard times.

We are going though challenging time now. You might not have a big war chest to do marketing, however, that’s things you can do without spending money. Talk about your product and services; building relationship with people and other businesses is a great way to grow your business. When people sees your passion and enthusiasm about your stuff, it will rub onto them. Talk about your product and services in social medias, like FaceBook,  in a responsibly manner. Your purpose is to first to serve – tell them how would your product/service be a great solution to people’s headache. Yes, be honest and tell them so if your product isn’t a fix. People appreciate honesty and will remember that. Hard selling at social media may backfire so be really careful about that.

Whatever it is, do something. When you choose have a lawn, be prepared to mow it.

Marketing is more than just advertising

“If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying “Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,” that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. If the town’s citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they’ll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that’s sales.”
~ Unknown

Whoever said this, said it really well. Because so many people thinks marketing is just about advertising. All I like to add to the unknown author, is that when you bid them goodbye, wish them well and ask them to revisit again with their families and friends, that’s customer relationship management.

Sex In Advertising?

Does sex really sell? Well, you decide for yourself.

Jef Richards, an advertising professor with The University of Texas, Austin, said “In advertising, sex sells. But only if you’re selling sex.”

Not according to the a survey conducted by MediaAnalyzer.

Sex in print advertisements actually improves the advertising effectiveness for men, but make it less likely that they will recall any brand name the ad was promoting. This is simply because men and women focus differently when their eyeballs connect with a sexy advertisement. MediaAnalyzer published its report in Adweek using the following MasterCard advertisement as a reference.

Sex Sells in MasterCard

31% men looked at the boobs first, then proceeded to the face (26%) and Continue reading “Sex In Advertising?”