Tuesday 3 February 2015

Advertising should be a knock out punch

Advertising should be a knock out blow. It has to shake you up like an Ali uppercut - not exhaust you into submission with a points decision. 

Over the last few years, I've noticed loads of ideas being pitched and executed with simply too many moving parts. 

You know the ones. The multi-platformed, omni-channeled ideas that take the audience on an interactive journey of brand discovery with a proverbial game of dominoes. 

First they go on to facebook, where they click through to a landing page, scan in their QR code, fill out a form then watch a video where they can choose their own adventure.

These kind of ideas are making one very large and erroneous assumption: it assumes people give a shit about your brand and its advertising. 

It's based on the anachronistic notion that your audience is waiting with a mental balance sheet to make their buying-decision in a hyper-rational way - a points decision. 

There's volumes of work extolling the benefits of engagement. But you're mistaken if you think people will interact with your ad for the ad's sake. 

If you want to achieve interaction there has to be something in it for the user. And discovering the brand isn't it.  

Ideas have always had to work across channels. That's why we called it the 'big idea'. But, as the industry becomes more and more execution focussed - seeing how many touchpoints we can hit - there's no doubt the 'big idea' is on the ropes. 

Knock-outs are memorable. In seconds they create a moment that sticks with you long after the fact. This is how you want your advertising to be - powerful, lasting and have you gasping for air. 

Plus, who ever saw awarded advertising that involved a tedium of steps? Not me. Awarded ads, which are also effective ads, have one thing in common. They're a knock out blow. 

Christopher Ott

Fish where the fish are OR cast a wide net?

To target market or not to target market? Both the 'pearls of wisdom' in the headline echo through the hallways of agencies and offices everywhere. But is one right and one wrong? Let's find out. 

According to Philip Kotler - the marketing doyen who writes the textbooks - to target market: first you find a segment with the most potential for your brand, then you talk exclusively to said segment.

This is done through the evergreen concepts of differentiating and positioning - essentially carving out your own niche. In other words, fishing where the fish are - with the right bait. 

While this feels hyper-rational, it only takes a moment's pause to uncover some broken logic. 

If you only target a choice niche, aren't you ostracising other potential customers? If you want more customers (to grow your brand) doesn't it make more sense to talk to more people? To try and catch more fish?

But, perhaps the even bigger flaw with fishing where the fish are is: if you keep doing it, you'll eventually run out of fish. You can't catch the same fish twice (within a buying cycle). (Yes, there's frequency strategies, but that's for another post)

On the other hand, if you don't target market, then you're looking at mass marketing - targeting your entire category. Or, casting a wide net. 

To grow your brand you need to reach as many category buyers as possible, get them to notice you and then have them remember you in a buying situation. 

Marketing is like a treadmill. You have to exert a lot of energy just to stay in the same place.

Because brands naturally lose their customers regularly - like a leaky bucket. You always need to get new ones to cover. To get them, you have to reach new people. 

So if you have a product and your audience is Murray Carp, then cast a net in the whole of the Murray. Not just a convenient fishing spot. Because, don't forget, the 'wide net' also covers the fishing spot. 

When I see creative advertising for car ads that target women and ostracise men, I find it beguiling. Everyone drives cars! Car brands should cast a wide net and aim to get as many buyers as possible - not just women. 

That's why reach reigns and targeting's time is up. In other words, fish where the fish are if you don't want to grow your brand. Cast a wide net if you do. 

NB: No doubt some of you are thinking some brands simply don't have the capital to mass market. I would hazard a guess that any brand using an agency means it's a strategic choice rather than a financial one. 

Christopher Ott