Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Everyone off the conclusion couch.

       Throughout my career, a voice has been warning me: "Stay off the conclusion couch".

       It's the voice of my early mentor, Tom Murray. He originally admonished me by saying I was too young to just jump to conclusions and judge everyone and everything by them. As time went by, the "too young" part receded in my mind, but the rest stayed.

      All of us, I guess, reach conclusions all of the time. The point, though, is to not let them keep you from seeing reality as it is. More importantly, we must keep those judgements from making us inflexible.

      For example, here are some conclusions you may be tempted to reach:

      1. Advertising adds to the price of a product. Someone has to pay for it.

      2. People don't read long copy in ads. They haven't got time.

      3. Nobody reads the newspaper anymore. Everyone gets the news from the Internet.

      4. The way to judge a good wine for a gift is the price. Same for vodka.

      5. "I'm not subject to social pressure. I make my decisions rationally."

      We hear these kinds of things all the time, and when they harden into conclusions, they can take us to dead ends, without curiosity.

       1. Research has shown that most of the time, advertising reduces the price of a product. It makes mass production possible. By the way, Vogue magazine would cost you about $20 per copy without ads. You'd have to pay for all your TV shows, too.

       2. People read what they're interested in, according to Daniel Starch and Co. research. Hundreds of thousands of women read even the longer articles in Vanity Fair and InStyle, for example. Your ads should be as useful and interesting as the articles.

       3. If you want to reach the most people in a city, in one shot, nothing beats the newspaper. Whether you personally read it or not. True, most people under 30 don't read it, so place your ads somewhere else for them.

      4. There are very good wines and vodkas that don't cost as much as the "top shelf" brands. We don't know how to judge them, so we go by price and labels. Remember, all vodkas made in the U.S.A. are by law "100% neutral grain spirits". For wine, it helps to read the reviews.

      5. We're all subject to social pressure. Look around at how we dress when we're in a group. There tend to be strict perameters: at school, at work, at weddings, at football games. Same goes for values and lifestyles. The guy who drinks cosmopolitans is usually not Joe Six-pack.

      Please stay off the conclusion couch. I know it's hard, but it kills new ideas and deadens mind-changing marketing.

      We're all too young for that.

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