Advertising is like planting corn.
According to reference.com, "From sowing to harvest, a corn seed takes 55 to 95 days to grow, depending on what type of corn is planted as well as the climate it is grown in. The time from planting corn seed to germination is normally about 5 to 12 days."
So you plant a corn seed and water it. Next day you look, and nothing has happened. The day after, nothing. Day 4 nothing. You must have been sold a dud seed. Day 6 you phone the seed rep and complain. Day 7 there's breakthrough. A fragile piece of green breaks the soil. Yes! The seed is working. Finally.
NO. The seed was working from the time you placed it in the soil. The action was happening under the ground. You couldn't see it.
Advertising, like corn, starts working the moment you run your first ad. The action is happening in the mind of the listener. But, you can't see it.
Note: For an ad to work it must have a relevant message and weekly repetition. Otherwise you have planted a dud seed. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.
And that's why few business owners advertise long enough to see the results of their investment. They'll pull up the seed and throw it to the side. Go find another field and plant a new seed. And so the story repeats. Nothing ever grows! And that's a good thing for you. When you know how adverting works and your competitors don't, you have the advantage.
Your competitors will start and stop campaigns. They'll try one radio station and stop. Then try another and stop. Then switch to a TV station and stop. Then to a magazine and stop. Then back to radio. The results will disappoint them. Again, that's good for you.
"Got it. My ads are working, but when will I see breakthrough?"When am I going to start getting back more than I'm spending?"
My business partner Roy H. Williams has over 30 years marketing experience. He's written a few best selling business books. He's also invested over 1 billion dollars worth of advertising for his clients. Roy has found breakthrough, usually happens between 20 to 40 percent of the Product Purchase Cycle.
What's a Product Purchase Cycle?
It's how often customers buy from you. We touched on this a few weeks ago.
If you sell a product or service people buy weekly, you'll see fast results. But the longer people take between purchases, the more patience you'll need. If you like action and want instant results; buy a coffee shop and say hi to your regulars daily. If you have the patience of a monk, purchase a bedding store and chat to your regulars every 5 to 7 years. "Gee, your kids have grown, and you have more of them!"
Time to do some calculating.
So what is your Product Purchase Cycle? And working on 20 to 40 percent when will your ads start working?
With all things being equal in your market place, that should be the end of the story.
But in marketing, advertising, business, and growing corn, all things are never equal.
Let's look at a few more variables.
What's your Share of Voice in the market?
How much are you spending on advertising? How much are all your competitors spending? What's your percentage? Are your ads outnumbered by the ads of a deep-pocketed competitor? I suggest hiring a good media buyer who can stretch your ad budget like pizza dough. They'll buy more media for your money than you can. And schedule that media so you'll have enough weekly repetition. You'll get a faster return on your money than trying to do it yourself.
Is there enough interest in what you sell?
I love garden gnomes. Not the concrete ones. I like plastic ones. I love painting them. I love collecting gnome accessories. I want to open a plastic gnome shop. How many people in my city would want to buy a plastic gnome from me?
Unfortunately, some businesses are not viable. The best ads in the world will not overcome a product or service no one needs or wants.
Note: I don't really like plastic gnomes. Really. I don't :-)
What is the Impact Quotient of your ad?
How convincing is your message? How relevant is it to the customer.
Most ads suck. Put them back to back in an ad break, and it's like listening to a beige rainbow. They're about the business, not the customer. So if you crank up the Impact Quotient of your message, you can leapfrog competitors with bigger ad budgets.
A persuasive copywriter can turn beige into vivid blue or red or orange. In other words, your ads will stand out. Customers will remember them. More customers will buy from you.
Here's an example.
It was morning. I was laying in bed with the Princess of Australia. The Princess said, "You had this bed before we were married didn't you." I said, "Yes... Let's get up and go bed shopping." My good mate, Bill Laidlaw from Nine Clouds Beds & Mattresses told me that is a common reason for newly married couples to buy a bed. Bill turned my experience into an ad, thanks to the persuasive copywriting skills of my business partner, Dave Young.
I dreamed of you last night. You were in the dog house. She finally got over that wedded bliss and got to thinking about your bed. She said, “Honey, this is the bed you had when we were married, isn’t it?” You said, “Yep”. She said, “So this is the bed you had as a bachelor, isn’t it.”
Do you see where this is headed?
Don’t go there. Just come to Nineclouds in Mississauga and start over. Top quality beds, guaranteed savings, free delivery and set-up. We’ll even remove that old bachelor mattress for you. Fresh starts online at nineclouds.ca. Let it be YOUR idea!
Bill understands customers. His message is relevant. That's why he is the KING of beds in Mississauga, Canada.
What is your Competitive Environment?
In other words, how well are your competitors known? How good are they at what they do? How good are you? Advertising can not make you better at what do. Advertising can only accelerate what was going to happen anyway. Good ads can't overcome a poor reputation.
What Media Delivery Vehicle are you going to use?
They all work, but some work better and faster than others.
Roy says it best. "One commonly held myth is that we remember “more of what we see than what we hear.” In truth, the opposite is true. A picture of your product (an iconic recall cue) delivered through a visual media will be noticed by readers and viewers who are currently, consciously, in the market for the product. Consequently, the response to silent, visual ads is usually immediate. But then it's over.
Auditory ads, however, are retained in memory even when customers are unaware they've heard them. This is why you can sing along with nearly 2,000 songs you never intended to learn.
One could easily generalize that products with shorter purchase cycles should use visual media and products with longer purchase cycles should use auditory media, but like most generalizations, this one would be flawed because there are two other factors – Share of Voice and Impact Quotient – they make a lot more difference than your choice of delivery vehicle. Far more important than your choice of media is your choice of message."
Have patience when you start a long-term advertising campaign. Wait for breakthrough. Then enjoy an ever increasing harvest.
Until next week
Work hard. Have fun.
Wizard of Ads Australia
We help owner-operated businesses attract profitable customers. Their businesses grow bigger, faster. Do you need help?
Contributing Wizard Partners, Roy H. Williams, Craig Arthur & Dave Young
Send us your questions.
You'll access the marketing knowledge of 54 Wizard of Ads partners.
We'll answer one question per week.
Send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the subject line write 'Question for the Wizards'.