I wanted to talk to you today about one of the core marketing principles that I go back to again and again when I’m working on campaigns. I find there are a handful of these principles, about 15 of them that I always reference. In fact, I’m going to be printing them out so I have them handy at all times. But, the one I want to focus on in this episode is the idea that the number one job of all of your advertising is to get your point across.
Now, on the surface that sounds obvious, and that’s because it is. But, like most things in life, we unnecessarily complicate it. So, I’m going to attempt to uncomplicate it for you in today’s post.
There is a fallacy that the number one job of advertisers is to be creative.
There is so much advertising in the world, and there has been for so long, that the companies that hire advertisers and agencies want something that will stand out, and advertisers – wanting to make money – fold under the pressure to appraise their bosses.
This does neither the advertisers, the agencies, the companies that hire them, and regular people any good.
Everyone loses in this situation.
That’s because the number one job of advertisers, and advertising, is not to be creative or novel but to get the point across as clearly as possible.
This should never be compromised for a catchy phrase or cute verbiage.
Why Advertising Shouldn't be JUST Creative
Now, I know I’m going to step on some toes with this so hear me out. I”m not saying that advertising should be plain, simple, and boring. I’m not saying that it can never be creative or push boundaries. I think the best advertising does those things… almost as well as it gets the message across. But getting the message across is the one thing that it needs to do best.
If you leave people confused or entertain them for 30 seconds just for them to forget what school was behind the ad in the first place, you lost. Have you ever seen a funny commercial that you can’t remember what they were trying to sell you or what company the ad was promoting? That’s a waste of money.
What We Can Learn from the Historic GE Announcement
Recently GE announced that they will be splitting up into 3 companies. Do you know how they announced it to the public? They bought out the entire NY times ad inventory – that’s the first time since the paper was born in 1851 that any company has ever done this.
Bold move right? The goal was to carry through the message that the GE split will allow them to focus on each company more directly, and the ads were meant to get people to focus.
One ad featured a foldable paper airplane from a 4-time world record paper airplane maker and another featured a crossword from a world-renowned puzzle maker.
Laura Correnti, a partner at Giant Spoon. Said “From a media strategy standpoint, if you can create focus, you can talk about focus,” “For us, this was really about singling GE out as the only message throughout the NYT ecosystem on this day.”
If you ask me this campaign worked.
Not only were people buzzing about the historic NYT buyout, but they were also interested in reading the paper to see what all the fuss was about, and the ads played into the overall goal that GE was trying to communicate – focus.
But it received backlash from a lot of the marketing industry.
It seems marketers thought this was a silly move, and “nothing new”.
They weren’t impressed that GE went the old print route. Seems like most marketers are still focused on the shiny things, and not on what works.
Your advertising can be creative and groundbreaking and headline-making but it also needs to communicate your message.
If you don’t communicate your message you’re paying for people to NOT understand what you’re trying to tell them.
Are You Talking in Metaphors?
Imagine you pay $1,000 to talk to 100 people well qualified prospects about your school but right before you go out to give your keynote presentation the host of the event says you can only speak in metaphors.
Now unless your Lil Wayne and this is 2001, I bet people would be confused because your point will not come across clearly.
That’s what advertising that sacrifices clarity for cuteness does.
First, focus on the message you want to get across and then build your campaign around that.
How can you tell a story that reinforces that message and drives it home in a way that people can relate to? What type of imagery will complement that message?
Start with the point and work backward finding ways to support your overall message.
Let’s continue the conversation on LinkedIn. Until next time, I’ve been Nick and a I’ll see you next week!