Every year, the amount of ineffective, emotionless advertising filling our media channels grows significantly. The unbiased research groups persistently tell us that 85% of all advertising is ignored. And, with today’s consumers facing greater distractions through social media channel overload added to life’s already chaotic pace, that “didn’t notice it” percentage is only going up.
But businesses press on paying to apply more wallpaper to every major and minor medium. “Sales need a bump, buy more advertising.” “Our marketing strategy needs more power, invest in more media placement.” Stop the presses and the endless industry-themed special inserts! Today’s message clutter can not be overcome by advertising alone. (Attention Alert!) That last sentence was the take-away nugget in this blog. So, for all you readers who checked a text, got a retweet notification, received a friend request, or happened to hear a child in the other room yell “he got peanut butter in my hair!” while reading that key sentence, I’ll repeat it and even bold it this time: Today’s message clutter can not be overcome by advertising alone. People are now firmly pre-programmed to block out advertising messages. There is not enough time or brain space to take it all in. So the easiest solution is to shut it all out until something comes along that really entertains them, or something entertains friends and followers and gets passed on to them. That’s when advertising does its job. And does it very well. That job is to communicate why you are meaningful to consumers (the benefit you offer that is different and better than what the competition offers).
Advertising, when done right, is your channel for communicating your brand position. It gives you the mic and you make a promise that makes you meaningful to your prospects. And that’s as much as you should expect out of this single marketing tactic. It’s a big job just to get your message heard and remembered. So, I’m not discounting the tremendous value advertising has in marketing. My point is, without help, it can not reach the major business goals of sales growth and market share gain. If you want significant ROI from your advertising efforts, you don’t start and end with advertising. Instead you start with defining your brand positioning. What is your leadership claim? What is your purpose, your passion, your “Why” behind what you do? Then you embrace it in everything you do (every brand touch point reinforces it, including your advertising) so that you gain awareness, earn trust and build brand loyalty. Once this is done, your advertising has more power. Just the sight of your name or logo comes ingrained with a differentiating benefit that consumers recognize and believe.
Don’t buy the sales pitch that all you need is more exposure or better placement of your advertising. What you need is a strong, differentiating brand. And achieving this takes much more effort than writing a media check and placing ads, it requires years of determined focus, consistency and passion.