Advertising-Doesn't-Sell
Jeff Schmidt

Advertising Doesn’t Sell…

The purpose of advertising is to sell products.

No, the purpose of advertising is to build brand awareness and generate traffic.

If you search Amazon, you’ll find 71,558 books on the subject of advertising from an array of experts and authors trying to determine if advertising is a science, an art, if it’s measureable, etc.

I believe if you take away all the fluff and theoretical discussion, you can boil it down to one simple concept, which is the purpose of advertising: To be known before you are needed. There are a lot of sub-layers and statements one can spin from that, but at the very core, the purpose of advertising is to make a product or service known before it’s needed. Logically, you have no chance of buying a product or service if you don’t know it exists.

People respond to needs; not ads.

I think that’s worth repeating: People respond to needs; not ads. We call the discovery of these needs “triggering events.” Something happens that causes you to need a particular product or service. For example, you have a car accident. Suddenly, you need car repair, towing services, medical attention – all triggered by an event.

The flow of buying looks like this:

Discover a need (triggering event)

Review options (review your mental card file of what you know)

Answer questions (compare options based on what you know about them)

Buy (make your selection)

For some products, this can happen almost instantaneously; think of gum or mints at the check-out counter. For other products, generally larger-ticket items, it can take weeks, months, and, in some cases, years. The process is always the same.

Sadly, I have set myself up for failure many times by allowing clients to believe the job of advertising was to sell – it’s not. The job of advertising is to make products and services known before they are needed. When consumers are in the “review options” phase of the buying cycle, your client has a chance at earning their business.

Advertising can make the connection, but the client has to make the sale. If you don’t clarify this and set the expectations properly, you’re likely to hear these words at some point in your career: “I tried advertising once and it didn’t work.”

Teaching clients the purpose of advertising, how to advertise and what to expect when they advertise is providing required business intelligence that can set you apart as an expert.

 

Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at Jeff.Schmidt@RAB.com. You can also connect with him on  Twitter and LinkedIn.

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