Wednesday 24 October 2012

How does advertising work?

It’s a good question. It implies that there is a definite objective for advertising and that an evaluation of its effectiveness will be undertaken.

In reality, few advertisers bother with a formal listing of objectives and even when these are formulated often consist of general business goals. Increasing sales, brand share, distribution and so on are not communication tasks. Advertising’s function is to inform and persuade and these objectives are much harder to articulate and monitor.

Another problem is isolating advertising contribution from the other elements of the marketing mix. Brand success may be relatively more reliant on product innovation, pricing strategy, and packaging than the advertising campaign.

Advertising in a general sense must work, but not always and often not very efficiently. The drive to make advertising more efficient is akin to the search for the Holy Grail. You will have heard the quote attributed to John Wanamaker of the USA or Lord Leverhulme:

“ I know that 50% of my advertising is wasted. The problem is that I don’t know which 50%.”

In the early half of the 20th century, Mr. Elmo Lewis developed his AIDA model for advertising. It described four stages for good advertising. Attract attention, make the advertisement relevant and engaging so as to engender interest, create desire and finally generate action in the form of a sale.

In the early 60’s, Russell Coley developed his DAGMAR model, which stands for: Defining advertising goals for measured advertising results. He postulated that customers went on a journey from unawareness to awareness and comprehension of the message. If well done, this leads to a positive attitude being formed of the brand and a conviction of its suitability.

Stephen King, the doyen of JWT’s London account planners warned that the nature of the advertising message may cause success to be measured on varying time scales. A Television commercial announcing a retail sale will have the tills ringing, or not, almost immediately. A campaign promoting Nuclear energy will need a longer time scale for the measurement of advertising success.

Most older advertising models are linear and pre suppose rational decision-making. These days we know that emotional triggers are also important. Behavioral economics is the flavour of the moment.

It seems that we have been asking the wrong question. We cannot generalise and must be specific. The question should be: How does my advertisement work?
Or even better: How do my customers use my advertisements?   

Answers to these questions will lead to less waste and more effective determination of the ideal advertising budgets. 

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Far away places with strange sounding names...

Most British holidaymakers know what sort of holiday they want.

If its sun, sea and sangria, then they will never be persuaded to go jungle trekking. So, for the main holiday, Barbados has to compete with Jamaica and the Costa Brava with The Algarve. Yet every destination offers differences even within these parameters.
Tenerife attracts different sorts of tourists than Menorca. Knowing who your best prospects are should be easily determined. In reality it appears to be difficult. Try finding out the differences between destinations on the same shortlist for yourself.

A simple graph comprised of prospects opinion of relative merits of different destinations is shown below. It is small in scale but makes our point.

Click to enlarge the chart below

Then consider New Zealand and Australia. Their distance from the UK make the travel an onerous experience and a promise of 'The pure Country' or 'The land of wonder' will not make up for the long boring journey. These countries attract relatively small number of British tourists. However they stay for an average of six and a half weeks. A safe guess would be that this long stay can only be afforded by time rich holiday takers such as the retired older folk and gap year young people. You will not find any mention of these prospects in their advertisements.

Another factor for countries that once provided immigrants to Britain is the lure of familiar things. India does attract a few Anglo Saxons. However, about one third of UK residents who travel to India have Indian passports and it is a safe bet that a sizeable number of visitors who are British now, were originally from the sub-continent. For them ‘The incredible country’ is not a justification.

A common language, familiar food and culture should be promoted more strongly in advertising for Canada and the USA.

Success in tourism advertising comes when you understand the importance of identifying your prospects and then find exciting and relevant ways to express your differences.