Why do all businesses need science more than they need attempted marketing genius?
One of my favourite stereotypes is the “Pony-tailed Advertising Genius”. Back in the eighties and nineties when the big advertising agencies were pumping out the great jingles about margarine (you orta be congratulated) and football (up there cazaly, simply the best) and so on – the marketing types generally had pony tails, odd clothes, and lunch boxes disguised as briefcases.
They specialized in producing the MONSTER ad campaigns for the mass market, and mixed in the mass of absolute money wasting bollocks produced some great results for their clients. Those apparent wins for big spending clients led to the belief that the way to build a huge business was mostly about getting a “pony-tailed” ad meister to produce a commercial that just made people line up outside your business and demand to come and give you money. Or at least to buy lots of your stuff from wherever it was sold.
Today – if you go out and ask most business owners what the best way to predictably and profitably double their sales and triple their profits – over 90% will still say to get a really powerful advertising program going.
What they wont say is that “Well – if my business was a bucket, the best way to increase profits is to stop the customers sloshing out of the top and through the leaks in the bucket.” Or “Well, the easiest sell is to sell more to an existing customer, or to invite a customer who has slipped out of the bucket and become “inactive” to come back. Both are more predictably profitable than hunting for NEW customers.”
When I was at University, I studied Science. In one subject – “Organic Chemistry” – we had to synthesize chemicals. The very first step was to know what the chemical we wanted to finish up was going to be. Now it sounds absurd, but much advertising is done without first working out what we specifically wan the outcome to be.
Ok – the goal is to increase sales. That is the equivalent of being told to make a chemical with some carbon in it.
Ok – the goal is to get more customers to come into the store and buy stuff. Better – but not specific enough.
Ok – the goal is to get more than 20 new customers to come into the store, spend at least $100 and we get their names and addresses. Better.
Ok – the goal is to get more than 20 new customers who need what we sell more than twice a year, live within 10k’s of the store, spend at least $100, we get their names/details. Better again.
If we were to go with the first goal – we could easily be sucked into the vortex of ”general advertising”. Each time we add detail to the people we are targeting – the easier it gets to talk to them in a way they enjoy. Eg if we know that we only want people near the store – not a lot point doing national adverts or regional TV.
Constructing an advertising campaign is just like synthesizing a compound chemical – the more you know about what you want to finish with – the more predictably we can choose that to “do” and also to “not do”.
Another view of advertising that the more we try to create a message that “suits everyone”, the more likely we are to create a super-bland, non-specific mush that has no impact and suits “no one”.
And back to the idea of growing your business – advertising for new customers has a place in a promotional or marketing campaign – but remember that is is most expensive and least predictable way to increase your profits. Unless you don’t have any customers at all. And when you do advertise – it needs to be driven by science and maths – not by a “creative” genius with a pony tail. Great advertising is creative, and also strategic with particular goals in mind.
All right – I do wish I still had enough hair for a decent pony tail. But I am also glad that Business and Science share the same structures – and there is a lot of fun and profit to be had in both disciplines.
Marketing and Advertising, Townsville