Thursday, September 17

Defining People: How Marketing And Advertising Sees The World

On Tuesday, we shared how publicity, public relations, and social media see their audiences or publics. They are not alone. Marketing and advertising see the world in varied degrees too. In fact, marketing and advertising have so many world views and variations that we had to settle on four favorites.

An oversimplified perspective of how professionals see the world.

• World View: Branders see the world as the audience, with every person on the planet having an innate obligation to be able to define the company as the company wants to be defined.
• Method: Run mass media advertisements to gain as much exposure for the company's controlled message as possible, regardless of any other factor. Demographics may play a role in selecting the media and some branding efforts include additional tactical elements. The more impressions, the better, just like brainwashing.
• Why It Works: Companies do need to define themselves. When it's done right, non-customers will adopt the brand too.
• Why It Doesn't Always Work: Sometimes the branding effort is so far from reality that it's doomed to fail because customers aren't as stupid as creative folks like to think. Other times, agencies spend more time branding the work than the company in an effort to gain attention, much like publicity. Abused, some agencies sacrifice measurement in favor of impressing peers at various award shows.

• World View: With the exception of mass media media branding campaigns, advertising sees the world as various target audiences as defined by their demographics. Deliver the right message to the right audience and big things happen.
• Method: Plan a media campaign around media that best matches the demographic, and create clever, pretty, or direct messages that are presumed to appeal to those audiences. Sometimes they will even include a call to action.
• Why It Works: It's planned, semi-measurable, controllable, and can change behavior and public opinion. At its best, consumers will relate to the advertising because it will feel like one-on-one communication.
• Why It Doesn't Always Work: Marketers and advertisers don't always look hard enough to find an adequate unique selling point so they attempt to sell the advertisement instead. If anyone is going to ignore public relations, it's advertising. (Who else would buy media time for automakers on a local news program, playing opposite the daily traffic accident tally?) They have a mistaken belief that consumers love to be interrupted online and off. There are an abundance of rules that some people think actually work (they do not).

• World View: Direct marketing sees the world made up of demographical data with a certain percentage of each group ready to respond to anything.
• Method: Buy the list and blitz.
• Why It Works: No one really knows why it works, but enough consumers continue to respond to their least favorite form of marketing. As long as direct marketers can meet a 2 percent mark, companies see it as a guaranteed return, which excites them more than branding and advertising.
• Why It Doesn't Always Work: Beyond the possibility of a bad list or maligned message that sounds conspicuously the same as everyone else, direct has the potential to turn people off even if they gave permission. Two percent might be the industry average, but it is a low water mark that requires a sizable investment to pay off. People are nothing more than numbers.

• World View: Anyone who hears the pitch will become putty.
• Pitch as many people as possible as often as possible and those people will be compelled to buy, even if it is only to convince the salesperson to shut up. Once they buy, they'll tell their friends.
• Why It Works: Sometimes products really are that good. Some people are really, really good at it. It's so easy, you can hire a room full of people with scripts and telephones to get the job done.
• Why It Doesn't Always Work: Most people are not as good at it as they might think. At its worst, it creates an adversarial relationship that frames up every transaction as open warfare on the consumer: the salesperson's goal to get the consumer to buy as much as possible, and the consumer's goal to make excuses why they cannot buy. Butt kissing is only optional.

Just like publicity, public relations, and social media, all of these views can benefit companies, with an integrated approach and minus abuses. In fact, some might notice the world view of sales and social media is very similar despite very different methods (nothing could be further from the truth).

Unfortunately, most marketing firms and advertising agencies seem to have an aversion to two-way communication, especially if it interferes with the "creative process." And while direct and sales are generally more malleable and accountable, they forever remain misunderstood as long as some salespeople resort to being that guy.


Dean at Pro Copy Tips on 9/17/09, 7:57 PM said...

Ouch! Well, you pretty much described 90% of the people I know.

I'd argue with some of those direct marketing comments, but you nailed branding people so well, I'll give you a pass. This is Digg worthy.

Rich on 9/18/09, 9:44 AM said...


Oh, it's not meant to be harsh as much as it's a matter of what is. And sure, maybe I was too tough on direct, but only because there was a point where direct accounted for a significant portion of what we did. We still do some, but much much less.

In general, it seems to be some quality drop off in the prose. There are, like in every sector, some exceptional exceptions.

Moving forward, I'm hopeful some smart communicators will begin to look at social media with a more blended view because it all matters. All of these various views are important and I think the real work is getting them to all work together as opposed to against each other.

Nice of you to say it's Digg worthy. Appreciated.



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