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5 Mistakes Advertisers Make

Ever go into a car dealership and ask the sales guy to tune your engine?  You don’t really think that he/she would know how to do it, do you?

Sales people sell cars they don’t provide highly technical engine adjustments.  The dealership has trained mechanics for that.

Everyone has a skill set and certain talents. We call on experts, or those more expert than we are, to complete tasks we are less proficient at.

We don’t do our own open heart surgery, our own dentistry, or usually our own taxes. And lawyers say that someone who defends themselves in court has a fool for a client.

So why do retailers think they are experts at creating advertising campaigns? Is it because they think they can speak English, so they believe they can write copy?  And does watching TV make you an expert in media buying?

Once I cold-called a prospect and asked him who did his copy. He said it was his secretary (back in the day when people had secretaries). To which I replied that she was under-utilized. “She should be writing screenplays, there is more money in that.”

We didn’t get the account — didn’t think we would want it anyway.

My sarcasm aside, the power of having the right advertising campaign is not something left to amateurs. I recently read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. He endorses the idea that someone needs to have 10,000 hours doing something before they are expert at it.  Then you can get the benefit of that expertise in a Blink!

Advertising agencies have well developed and disciplined processes for the development of creative. We define a strategy before hand to make sure we putting forward the right message to the right target.  It takes years of training to get this right.  The power of having the right message in the right place can increase the impact of the media investment in many multiples.

What’s it take for a retailer to gain this benefit? The courage to ask for professional help.

What about the cost? Some retailers are afraid of the cost. Really?

They should ask, “how much media money are they wasting by not having a potent message”? Does a doctor operate first and diagnose second?  Mine better not!

Radio stations and newspapers will assemble a commercial or ad for FREE! Their view of the message is – do what the retailer wants and get it done fast. So not much thought or added value goes in.

It is a total waste for the retailer, when all that media money puts across a lame message that does not hit the mark, isn’t provocative, or compelling or persuasive.

Retailers are usually great at operations. Making sure the their stores operate consistently and efficiently.

Advertising people are trained to think differently. They think from the customer’s point of view.

This means when a retailer does hire a professional, they should listen to the advice they get and consider it.  Don’t try and redo it yourself.

Ask the question “does this achieve what I am trying to do?” instead of the more typical question, “Is that how I would do it?” – Of course it is not how you would do it!  That’s why you hired an expert with a different perspective. You don’t buy a dog and then bark yourself.

It is the wise person who knows what they can and cannot do.  Professional advertising advice can pay for itself and then some.  Give it a chance.

Now where’s my chainsaw, I have an appendectomy to do.

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