Archive for May, 2010

Why Your Advertising Isn’t Working

Recently, an Adweek Media poll of LinkedIn members posed this question: “Of the ads you see in a typical day, how many engage your attention?” A remarkable two-thirds of respondents said “a small minority of them.” Another quarter answered “none of them.” Together, that’s 91%. Only one in 100 respondents said “most of them.”

Ouch. While polls like these have their limitations (we often can’t—or won’t—tell the truth about our own purchase behavior), I suspect few us would doubt the overall conclusion that a lot of advertising doesn’t work very well. Your own advertising may even fall into that category.

If you find yourself nodding your head and wringing your hands right now, keep in mind this simple business axiom: Companies get the advertising they deserve. If your advertising isn’t working, it may be you that’s the problem.

The good news is that you can take steps to fix it. Certainly the economic environment is playing a significant role in how well (and how quickly) prospects are responding to your advertising, but blaming the recession is ultimately unproductive. After all, you may not like the hand you’ve been dealt, but your competitors are holding the same cards. It’s how you play your hand that counts.

With that in mind, I’d like to suggest seven reasons why your advertising may not be pulling its weight. Use them to evaluate your efforts, but don’t rely on your judgment alone. Ask a trusted and objective colleague to give you his or her honest opinion as well.

  1. It’s boring. Yep, boring. Why do we watch TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, or go online? Three reasons: information, entertainment, and engagement. Ads that fail to offer at least two of these three benefits flop. Just as nobody reads every story in the newspaper, nobody pays attention to every ad. You have to engage your prospects with something that is interesting or entertaining before they’ll give you their valuable time and attention. Creativity has always been the coin of the realm, but in our time-starved culture it’s truer than ever.
  2. It’s boorish. You shouldn’t think of your advertising as being about your brand, you should think of it as an extension of your brand (see “A Practical Guide to Branding”). If it’s loud, annoying, insulting, offensive, or self-centered, people will think the same of your products or services (see “The Cocktail Party Test for Advertising”). Remember the first sentence in the best-selling hardback book in U.S. history, The Purpose Driven Life: “It’s not about you.” What’s true in life is true in advertising; if you focus only on what you can get, you’re not going to get much. Instead, focus on giving, and good things will begin to happen.
  3. It’s safe. The first time I saw a Ford Taurus (F), I took note, and I suspect you did as well. So did a lot of other people, and the Taurus went on to become the best-selling car in America. If the Taurus had been another in a long line of boxy sedans, it probably would have been just another car. Instead, it turned automotive design conventions upside down and made history. While being different isn’t in and of itself a guarantee of success, what you do is a lot more likely to get noticed if it hasn’t been done before. And keep in mind that when you do something different, people may not like it—at least initially. Most of us were shocked at our first sight of the Taurus’ curved lines, but it went on to have significant influence on automotive design. If you worry too much about offending someone, you’re likely to not attract anyone.
  4. It’s trying to do too much. As the poll results above demonstrated, most people don’t engage with most ads. And even when they do, for how long do they pay attention? Thirty seconds? Ten? Five? The best an ad can do is communicate one single, compelling idea, and in the age of the Internet—when people know they can go online to get all the additional information they need—it’s crazy to ask an ad to do more than that. Just because you have a lot to say doesn’t mean your audience will sit still and pay attention. Do your best to make a simple, singular point. Do it with flair, and given enough exposure (see next point) it might just get through.
  5. It hasn’t been given time. You can’t rush bread out of the oven. You can’t hurry a seedling out of the ground. All you can do is prepare the ingredients properly, tend the garden with care, and wait for the loaf to rise and sprouts to appear. The same is true of advertising. If you expect too much too soon (especially on a limited budget) you’re sure to be disappointed. Think about your own consumer behavior—how many times do you need to be exposed to a marketing message before you take action? Depending on your prospects’ level of interest in the category and frequency of purchase, it could take weeks, months, or even years for your message to sink in.
  6. You like it. O.K., this one may sting a bit, but you are not the best judge of your own advertising. You can’t be, because you simply know too much about your brand and have too much affection for it to remain objective. Look at Burger King (BKC). Its advertising over the past few years has been quite successful in appealing to the company’s core target audience of young men, but many Burger King franchisees could personally do without it. The smart ones recognize that they’re not the target and leave it alone. Your advertising is not only not about you, it’s not for you. Both points seem counterintuitive, but that’s why this stuff isn’t for amateurs.
  7. It’s not an advertising problem. A common mistake many companies make is trying to use advertising to fix another problem. It may be faulty or outdated product design, an uncompetitive cost structure, customer service letdowns, or any number of other things. It’s not as if they do so intentionally; it’s just that it’s a whole lot easier to put on a new coat of paint than it is to fix the foundation that’s causing the drywall to crack. No company executes flawlessly, but until you can maintain a solid track record of excellence, spend your money on internal improvements rather than advertising. Paint may mask the problem for a short time, but soon new cracks will begin to appear.

There are, of course, many more reasons why advertising underperforms, from poor media placement to bad strategy to competitive countermoves. But the above missteps are so common—and so commonly misunderstood—that simply putting them out to the curb would go a long way in making advertising better. Not to mention making television much more bearable to watch.

Provided By: Business Week

The Perils Of Market Research

My colleagues and I conduct quite a bit of market research, both for our own company and on behalf of our clients. We’ve seen it used both for good and for ill. Here are a handful of thoughts that can keep your research from causing you pain.

1. There are things you can measure and things you can’t. Don’t mix them up.

How much do you love your wife? What’s the value of poetry? What is a life worth? Ask most people these questions, and you’ll get a funny look—or get into a metaphysical discussion. Some things just can’t be quantified. Yet in business, we often act as if everything can.

In a 2008 Wall Street Journal story, Adrian Van Hooydonk, director of design at BMW (BMW:GR), explained how the carmaker evaluates vehicle prototypes: “We don’t use customer clinics. They will be judging it based on the world today. Design needs to look good in eight years’ time. You can’t ask a customer whether he will like the design of the car in 2018.” Van Hooydonk and his team must be onto something, because BMW has arguably been the most stylish and best-performing car company of the past two decades.

Research can’t predict the kind of cars we will be interested in five years from now, how an ad concept will be received three months from now, or what the next hit movie or popular fashion trend will be. Yet we still hold onto hope that somehow statistics and spreadsheets will enable us to foresee the future. They won’t. They can’t.

Of course, it is possible to track events that have already happened, and that can provide valuable information. Such things as purchase patterns and visit frequency are historical, concrete events subject only to the laws of forgetting (I may not remember how I heard of your product) and deceit (I may not want you to know that I saw your ad in my wife’s Glamour magazine). By and large they can be reliably tracked. But when we try to quantify attitudinal attributes—or assume that the past will accurately predict the future—we can get into trouble.

2. Just because you can’t measure it doesn’t mean it’s not real.

When was the last time you responded to a TV ad—or any form of advertising, for that matter? That, of course, depends on the meaning of the word “responded.” It’s easy to think of “response” strictly as a measurable action, such as an inquiry or purchase. But there are many different ways consumers respond to ads, from the concrete (Web visits, phone inquiries, transactions) to the more abstract (preference, likability, identification). And the higher-involvement the purchase decision, the more likely a brand will need to generate a number of abstract responses before it sees anything concrete.

In 2003, Advertising Age ran a provocative story about advertising ROI—or the lack of it. The publication said that according to research, “Media advertising does the worst job of any marketing discipline in proving return on investment, and network TV is the worst of those media….”

The study was fielded among leading national advertisers—people who ought to know. But what, exactly, did it demonstrate? Not that network TV didn’t generate ROI, but that it was the hardest medium with which to prove ROI. That’s a significant distinction.

If network TV didn’t work for advertisers, there would be no network TV. As business people, we know that TV works because it works on us as consumers. We may not be able to measure it with precision, but anyone who recognizes the Mac vs. PC guys, the Aflac Duck (AFL), the E-Trade Baby (ETFC), or the Budweiser Clydesdales (BUD) can’t deny it. Passing judgment based only on what’s easily measurable is myopic.

3. The best research is the real world.

Two words: New Coke. Possibly the most pretested new product launch ever, New Coke nevertheless failed in the marketplace. The story has been told many times, and there’s no need to repeat it here, but basically what it came down to was that despite an unprecedented amount of market research, the brain trust at Coke (KO) didn’t anticipate the monstrous emotional backlash they would engender by replacing their original formula. They couldn’t know it until it happened.

Google (GOOG) once asked users how many research results they’d like to see on one screen. Since conventional wisdom says more is always better, people naturally said “more.” When Google tripled the number of results, however, it found that traffic actually declined. Not only did the results take a fraction of a second longer to load, but having more options led people to click on links that were less relevant. The respondents in Google’s research didn’t intentionally lead researchers down the wrong path; they just didn’t understand the real-world implications of their choices.

For any research to be scientifically reliable, every variable other than the one being tested must be controlled. But in most marketing research it’s impossible to control all the variables, which means a certain amount of error is in every study. Where that error lies, and how significantly it affects the outcome, is always a mystery. That’s what makes it so dangerous.

4. People lie.

“I will never have a cell phone.” That’s a direct quote from my wife, who also said she’d never use the Internet. Today she sent me a text message complaining that Facebook is acting funny again.

She didn’t mean to lie. She’s just not an early-adopter. And she can’t predict how she will respond to new developments in the future. None of us can.

Harris Interactive (HPOL) recently conducted a survey about personal consumer behavior. Unlike most studies of this type, Harris split its panel between telephone and Internet respondents. The results demonstrated that online respondents tended to be more honest, whereas phone respondents were more likely to provide what they thought was the “correct” answer.

For example, more than twice as many people told telephone interviewers they were weekly churchgoers, while fewer admitted they gambled. People interviewed via phone were also more likely to say they give money to charity, exercise regularly, and brush their teeth twice a day. (What a wonderful world that would be.)

Sometimes people won’t accurately describe their wants, needs, or behavior, and sometimes they simply can’t. As David Lewis, chief designer at Bang & Olufsen (BO:DC), put it in a 2008 Wall Street Journal profile, “You can’t go out and ask people what they need or want, because they don’t know. The whole trick is to come out with a product and say, ‘Have you thought of this?’ and hear the consumer respond, ‘Wow! No, I hadn’t.’ If you can do that, you’re on.”

5. If you blindly follow the research, you’ll lose.

Swedish Vodka? Can’t happen. Vodka is Russian.

Yep, research said that Absolut (PDRDY) would flop. Instead, it radically changed the spirits industry.

In a 2001 column, World magazine publisher Joel Belz called relying too much on research “the fallacy of false precision.” Precision is what Ford (F) was seeking when it famously passed on launching the minivan. Hal Sperlich, who ended up taking the concept to Chrysler, recounted in a 1994 Fortune article that Ford balked because research couldn’t prove there was a market for such an unprecedented vehicle. “In 10 years of developing the minivan we never once got a letter from a housewife asking us to invent one.” Call it a hunch, call it intuition or insight, call it whatever—Sperlich and his team were correct, regardless of what the research said (or didn’t say).

As is animated movie studio Pixar (DIS), time after time, as it churns out one hit after another. Andrew Stanton, director of Finding Nemo and WALL-E, admitted in a 2008 Wall Street Journal column, “We selfishly make movies for ourselves that happen to be juvenile enough that they cover the kids’ interests.We’ve learned to trust our own instincts about what we like and not rely on, or trust, what the outside world tells us is going to work.” Apple’s (AAPL) Steve Jobs is cut from the same cloth.”We do no market research,” Jobs told Fortune in a 2008 interview. “We just want to make great products.” I think he has proven his approach works.

The bottom line? Market research is a compass, not a map—it can give you a sense of where you are, but it can’t tell you where to go. Measure to guide, don’t measure to lead, and when you do talk to customers, remember you can’t always go through the front door—sometimes you have to sneak in through a window to find out what they really think. Figuratively speaking, of course.

Provided By: Business Week

How To Create Better Advertising

Conventional wisdom says the secret to great advertising is developing a big idea for a campaign. In reality, the trick is developing a campaign for a big idea.

Mere semantics? Not at all.

As a young company takes root and expands, it begins to establish its brand. With each passing day, the things it does enhance (or detract from) the value of that brand. Over time, that equation begins to work in the opposite direction as well, and branding can be used to enhance the meaning and value of the company. But for this process to be effective, the business and the brand must remain intertwined.

The world’s best marketers understand that as valuable as their products and services are, products and services come and go. Brands, however, live on indefinitely. As a result, they invest in and celebrate and protect their brands in every way they can, wrapping them around big, everlasting ideas.

Apple’s (AAPL) animating idea is innovation. Whether it’s the design of the iPhone, the functionality of iTunes, the customer experience in the Apple Store, or the light humor of the “Mac vs. PC” ads, the company is all about providing pleasant surprises to its customers. As a result, Apple has a legion of loyal followers and is able to command premium prices for its offerings.

Intel’s (INTC) big idea is performance. The chipmaker is determined to never be outperformed by competing technology on things like speed, energy efficiency, and adaptability. That’s why when a computer sports an “Intel Inside” badge, people are more apt to trust it, even if (or perhaps because) they know little about the workings within.

Foundation for Lasting Success

For Wal-Mart (WMT), the idea is savings—a concept the company has so effectively owned over the past 48 years that it became the world’s largest retailer. Occasionally it loses sight of its originating idea, but it always returns to the core.

What these and other dominant companies know is that sustainable success is built on the foundation of a singular idea, around which everything they do is oriented. Advertising is just one of those things.

Sometimes, as in the case of General Electric (GE), the company is closely associated with an actual word (“Imagination”). In other cases it’s the underlying concept that’s important. You won’t see Nike (NKE) highlight the word “motivation” in its advertising, but motivation is what the brand (“Just Do It”) is all about. Leading companies like these filter their strategic decisions around their evergreen, animating ideas, which enable them to sustain success over time.

Why do people drink Coca-Cola (KO)? For some, it’s a matter of taste. For others, it’s how well Coke quenches their thirst. Still others like the jolt they get from the formula’s unique combination of sugar and caffeine. How can Coke effectively market to all the different people who choose its product for their own personal reasons? By planting its flag in an idea with which no one will take issue: happiness.

It’s hard to argue with happiness. It’s hard to be against happiness. And it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like happiness. Coke has decided to equate its brand with happiness, and orients its product, packaging, and promotion in that direction. (Ever see a “Happiness Machine”?). In a fast-paced, pressure-filled world, anyone can take a moment to “Have a Coke and a smile.” (If that old slogan sounds familiar, it only proves the point.)

Your Animating Idea

GE puts its commitment to imagination this way on its Web site: “From jet engines to power generation, financial services to water processing, and medical imaging to media content, GE people worldwide are dedicated to turning imaginative ideas into leading products and services that help solve some of the world’s toughest problems.” As awkward as the company’s major initiatives (Ecomagination, Healthymagination) sound, they further reinforce the idea around which the company is based. “For GE, imagination at work is more than a slogan or a tagline,” CEO Jeff Immelt says on the site. “It is a reason for being.”

Happiness. Motivation. Innovation. Performance. Imagination. Savings. These aren’t advertising ideas; they’re business ideas that have advertising implications. If you want your advertising to be more effective, ensure that it’s rooted in the idea that animates your company. If you’re not sure what that idea is, it’s probably related to why you got into business in the first place. Rediscover your animating idea, make sure it’s still sound (see “How Solid Is Your Brand?”), and orient everything you do around it—including (but not limited to) your advertising.

If you can prune away everything else and sharpen the point on your animating idea, your advertising will do its job better than you ever imagined.

Provided By: Business Week

Study: Mobile Ad Budgets On The Rise, Clients Find Branded Apps Most Exciting

Spurred by interest in formats like branded apps and mobile video, 82% of brands, agencies and other companies plan to boost mobile ad budgets in the next 12 months, according to a new study by MediaPost’s Center For Media Research and digital research firm InsightExpress.

Four in 10 plan to increase spending by up to 30% and three in 10 by 31% or more in the next year. Fifteen percent expect no change, and another 3% plan to cut mobile ad spend. Half of mobile ad dollars currently come from online budgets, 35% from cross-platform buys, 27% from funds specifically earmarked for mobile and 8% from TV budgets.

The study projected that 43% of mobile spending in the future will come from designated mobile budgets as the sector matures.

Given the enthusiasm for mobile advertising unleashed by the iPhone and the accompanying App Store, it’s not surprising that branded apps are what clients find most intriguing about the emerging ad category, according to survey respondents spanning agencies, brands, publishers, technology vendors, retailers and other types of organizations.

Following closely behind apps, cited by 47% as what clients find most exciting in mobile, were mobile video (44%) and mobile coupons (39%). A separate study released last week by TubeMogul and Brightcove found that more than half of media companies plan to roll out ad-supported mobile video in the next six to 12 months.

When it came to rating return on investment, however, the less glamorous formats won out. More than a third (36%) cited mobile coupons as the most effective form of mobile advertising, followed by lowly text links and banners, at 26% each.

Among the 53% of those surveyed who have not been involved in mobile campaigns, 59% expect to do so in the next year and 30 in the next six months.

In a section focused on agencies, the MediaPost study found that more than half (57%) had been involved in mobile campaigns, 44% none, and 17% in four or more. The majority of agencies needed three or more weeks to develop and execute a mobile campaign, with 37% taking more than four weeks. Twenty-one percent took only two weeks.

Internal departments most heavily involved in mobile efforts include creative (78%), account services (69%), media services (67%) and strategy (67%). Least involved were operations (19%) and sales (21%).

Agencies typically looked for outside help in areas including technology (52%), mobile expertise (23%) and production (21%). Two-thirds of ad firms developed completely new creative, while half have also repurposed existing online creative for mobile projects.

Of agencies that have not run a mobile campaign, the majority (71%) expect to do so in the next 12 months, and 22% in the next three months. But 29% don’t see mobile becoming part of their business for the forseeable future.

The study, conducted with MediaPost’s subscriber base, took place from from April 19 to April 20, 2010, with 550 people completing the survey. Of that total, 352 had planning, buying, or approving responsibility at their companies.

  mobile/chart

Provided By: MediaPost News

Dailey Marketing Group Launches New Glen Ivy Website

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, May 15, 2010 – Dailey Marketing Group (DMG) today announced the launch of Glen Ivy’s new website (http://www.glenivy.com).

This year, Glen Ivy Hot Springs celebrates 150 years of continuous operation in California. As part of this historic milestone, the spa operator wanted to take communication with its customers to a whole new level. To achieve that goal, Glen Ivy Spa partnered with Dailey Marketing Group to develop a new website that makes full use of social media and other leading-edge technologies to connect with current and prospective customers.

The new website allows prospective visitors to get a birds-eye view of the wide variety of experiences available at the spa. To create the sense of being there, DMG incorporated a range of images showing people relaxing and enjoying the grounds, pools, cafe, and other amenities. The website also offers planning ideas so visitors can select from the available treatment menus in advance of their visit and learn what to bring with them maximize their individual experience.

Guests can share their experiences online using the website’s blog and “share your story” features. And shoppers among us will enjoy the new Shopping Cart area offering gifts, gift cards, instant gift certificates, spa gifts, body care items, and Glen Ivy’s signature products and spa wear.

“The main thing,” says Glen Ivy’s president, Jim Root, “was to reach out to our customers and give them online opportunities to extend the Glen Ivy experience.”

About Dailey Marketing Group

Dailey Marketing Group is a full-service marketing and communications agency which creates brilliant ideas – both strategic and creative – delivered by the best talent out there. DMG has been named one of the top 50 agencies in Orange County ten years in a row by the Orange County Business Journal. DMG also offers eMarketing services through its eTargeting division and promotional item design and sourcing through DMG Promotions.

About Glen Ivy Hot Springs

Glen Ivy Hot Springs is a spa resort located in Corona at the mouth of Cold Water Canyon beneath the towering Santa Ana Range. Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa is celebrating 150 years of healing waters and extraordinary service. Glen Ivy Spas welcome more than 250,000 guests annually and employ more than 450 people at their Corona, Brea, and Valencia facilities.