Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Can I show you something in a bathing suit?

         Is the persuasion gone from advertising? Is advertising becoming little more than a window at Macy's, just showing the merchandise to all who pass by, without any selling?

        Could be.

        It seems that a lot of us in marketing today are so transfixed with the new media these days, we're letting the content slip by unnoticed. If Marshall McLuhan is being interpreted correctly, and the medium is the message, his day has come. With all the action on social media and YouTube, advertising agencies are covering all the bases. But what are they covering them with?

       Let me explain. There's always been, in my mind, a difference between advertising and sales promotion. Advertising builds brands; sales promotion's job is immediate sales and trial, based on a special offer or occasion.

       Public relations has an important role here, too, of course: building a bond between the company and its products, and the many publics it deals with.

       Various media are particularly good, in varying degrees, at each of these. Mobile advertising seems particularly suited to sales promotion. We can target our offers to specific groups of people, who we know are interested in what we're selling, and even distribute our savings or rewards over the phone. It remains to be seen how well mobile works as a branding medium, but more and more marketers are trying all the time.

       Television and radio have proven themselves as brand builders. So have magazines and in many cases, newspapers. But what about social media?

       We've learned that if we're too slick on social media, or try to sell too hard, it's a turn-off. Social media are very personal, very interpersonal, a great way to learn from your customers. Smart companies do that first, and then try to be helpful, with tips, suggestions, blogs, groups, and so on.

       That's why it's important to learn what each medium is best at, without asking everything of every one. But your goal is ultimately selling something.

       Remember that a salesperson has to be a lot like social media sometimes. Good salespeople say that listening is as important as talking, so when they do speak, they know what to say.

       Today, advertising is everywhere, because everything is media. Don't let your products get cold just being in that department store window.


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