Thursday, June 23, 2016

Advertising: For Better or Worse

"Good Seller" or " Bad Seller"?
I spend a lot of time watching and listening to all kinds of ads while consciously and subconsciously evaluating them. I watch them through a lens of trying to understand their motivation and their effectiveness; some on TV and radio, some on social networks and others in print and on billboards. Let’s face it there are a lot of ads everywhere you look. (it is estimated we receive up to 5,000 impressions a day). 

In thinking about this and I have come up with a theory that says basically this, there are basically two types of advertising,  advertising that is designed to promote a product that is “selling well” and advertising that is designed to promote product that is “not selling well,” or “certainly not as well as hoped.” We can debate why a product is selling well  (or not); if it is not selling well it may be a new unknown product, or a recently updated product , one with new or previously unknown benefits, a newly developed product and the list goes on. The reasons are varied and many. For a product or service that sells well, the advertiser is generally trying to leverage the existing goods sales and generate great sales, “striking while the iron is hot” (so to speak).

 One thing, I have found true more often than not, the more advertisers (and this is an important distinction between “advertising” and “advertisers”) promote a specific product the more likely it is that it may have limited value for you and generate great profit and margins for the advertiser.
The frequency and shear number of media channels used gets multiplied as advertisers try and climb on to the “gravy train.”  
Television Ad
Take for example, Canadian extended health care packages which are currently in heavy rotation in many media channels including television and online advertising. In this category we see a rush of companies and products, such as Flex care, Sure Health, Cover Me, Canada Protection Plan, and the list goes on. These are companies who employ a legion of actuarial accountants to recognize and capitalize on (gaps in healthcare no doubt) as an opportunity to generate profits. This product would fall under the category of a product that is “selling well” with companies climbing on board to take advantage of the opportunity. The opportunity is the result of an aging, fearful demographic that may not have planned well for retirement and a health care system that has gaps.  

Of course this does not apply to all products in all categories at all times, this is simply a guide to help you cast a critical eye towards ads and the products they promote to determine if these have value, using this theory.   

Direct Mail
Another, and a very different example aimed at a different demographic would be online stores such as Zoolilly, a completely online store that deals in clothing and home d├ęcor. They would fall into the “not selling well” category. The fact that they do not sell well is the  result of the fact that they are an unknown quantity.

An example of another “bad seller” might be an impulse buy product whether that is on TV or online. The seller creates a need for the product by fabricating a problem. The advertiser, through their commercials then proceeds to promote the multi-uses for their product in addressing the identified a problem and adds a few other uses just for good measure. It’s a “bad seller” because there was no market for this product prior to adverting. In most cases the manufacturer will try and have the product stocked on shelves at major department store chains. The claim, only available through this call-in commercial or online web site, immediately tells us that department store chains have decided this is not a product they think will sell or has real value for its customers.

I could offer many examples all distilled down to “good seller” or “bad seller” but I think I have made my point. It is important that as buyers, we critically evaluate advertising from a motivation point of view. Understanding a company’s motivation can help us understand the value proposition being offered by the seller. It is also important as potential advertisers that focus on the "real" value a product offers in our advertising to differentiate ourselves whether we are  advertising a good selling" product or  a "bad selling" product.

If you are a company trying to sell your products; then understanding your own motivation for creating a marketing message helps you develop more effective selling strategies and their corresponding messages. I believe that most customers can differentiate between good sellers and bad sellers and perceive value. This is especially important to small businesses who can not compete with  huge advertising budgets that "good sellers" can  often generate..

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