Advertising & Practical Thinking

The advertising profession is cold and cruel. The power of practical thinking is a perfect antidote.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

(The Sky is Falling... Part Seven)

So, what should advertising agencies do for their clients? They should develop a new set of rules:

  • Everything communicates.
  • Advertising should include all communications.
  • Every single expenditure must generate revenue for the client.
  • Brand awareness is worthless unless it results in sales.
  • Most importantly, nothing can be accomplished without putting the consumer first.

Let us take a very simplistic look at the situation.

  • A marketer manufactures a product or provides a service.
  • An advertising agency, or a brand consultancy, creates a name and a visual identity.
  • Marketing gets the product to the shelf.
  • Advertising gets the consumer to try the product.

Now, here is something that is more relevant today than ever before: The consumer creates the brand. Just look at brands like Starbucks, Google, eBay, and Whole Foods Market.

They have accomplished this by continuously getting customer feedback, sharing the knowledge freely, expertly building word-of-mouth specialists, devising specialized smaller offerings to get consumers to bite, and focusing on making consumers feel better.

Advertising agencies should redefine the role they play in helping their clients evaluate and strengthen the relationship their consumers have with the brand, at all points of contact. This is a broader and more valuable role, and at times may have little to do with traditional advertising. The role should be to create a positive and authentic brand experience for the consumer. This means:

  • Observing how the brand is actually used. Not once, not twice, but everyday.
  • Monitoring the consumer's perception of the price/value relationship.
  • Always looking at how sales and consumer service interact.

Essentially, a transformation process will have to start on how business is conducted. This can be accomplished by:

  • Re-emphasizing brand planning continuously. Start charging for planning services, as a separate service, instead of "bundling" it with creative services. This will be the trend of the future. By moving this department into a consultancy mode, it becomes a revenue center for the agency instead of it being a cost center.
  • Create a "connection planning" position/department. This will either replace the old media department or be an adjunct. Create brand contact planners.
  • Become media agnostic.
  • Encourage the creative department to to become "touch point planners."
  • Create and foster an "idea culture." Encourage/insist disciplined thinking.
  • Take a page from the old school of advertising: "Trust your guts."

There is a fine line between implications and recommendations. The way we have stated the implications sound as recommendations. They are.


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