A message from Art Publisher Eric Rhoads
Last week's Super Bowl hoopla reminds me of how great marketing works like football.
Rarely does a quarterback run the field for a touchdown on the first play. Though it can happen, coaches know that success is earned one play after another, with a yard or two gained with each play. You wouldn't bet on a football game if a team had only one play to win. But this is exactly what inexperienced marketers do. They run one ad or do one mailing and expect the phone to ring off the wall. Sure, it can happen. But, like a lucky run, it's not the norm.
Why Advertising Fails
Advertising works as a series of plays, making a little progress at a time. Campaigns with multiple impressions and touchpoints work best. Campaigns are a series of plays designed to score several touchdowns and win the game.
Advertising fails when marketers run single ads instead of campaigns. As in football, momentum is gained with consistent forward motion. Advertisers who start, stop, and start again are losing momentum. You make the most progress when you hang on to the ball.
No matter what kind of advertising you are doing -- print ads, e-mail marketing, direct mail -- you need lots of repetition. The average person needs to "catch" the message three or more times before they take action. And just because you send an e-mail or run an ad three times doesn't mean someone caught your message three times. It can take a lot of throws to get one completed pass.
People live busy lives, and, to get their attention, repetition is critical. Marketing pros understand this, which is why you see or hear many commercials over and over again.
Throwing My Money Away
Companies who run one single ad in the Super Bowl are usually disappointed in the results, though it's a big ego booster. It's a great place to be seen, but a message has to be reinforced over and over before people will catch it.
I once ran a single ad in an auction-house magazine, which was horribly expensive. Instinctively, I knew we should have repeated the ad several times before expecting any results, but we only ran it once. For us, it was like that Super Bowl ad, which is all about ego. Foolishly, I blew thousands of dollars and received no results.
The greatest marketers are like the teams that make it to the Super Bowl. There are many disciplines they follow, and that's what makes them great. I have coached thousands of advertisers in my career, and, if the message is well crafted, those who follow the model of consistent repetition always win big. Are you expecting a touchdown with your first play? Or are you in it to win the game?