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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Will this kind of short-sighted behaviour grow in the recession? Plus some advice from Dale Carnegie

I'm sorry, but it is not enough to have messages that sell. You need to know what makes them sell, otherwise you’re never in true control of your marketing.

A friend whose agency suffers from having me as chairman told me a story this morning that makes the point.

 One of my clients has just done the "can you give us the artwork for the ad you did so we can stick it on our system" trick, then informed me he will be giving it to the media agency to do the artwork so he can save money.

This is the guy who we did an ad for previously that tripled the response rates compared to the free ads created by the same media agency and turned £350k of media spend into £1.5m of sales.

This seems a bit short-sighted, to say the least. If they didn't have a decent ad to start with no one would be making any money.”

This sad tale reminded me of a client who did the same dirty on me 30-odd years ago – also in a recession. You won’t be surprised that he found his natural calling and now runs a bank.

Anyhow, I tried to console my friend.

The client and his media agency clearly don’t know what makes ads work otherwise their ads would have been doing OK before.  So eventually one of two things (maybe both) will happen.

1. The client and/or the agency will start getting bored with the ad and try to “improve” it. Almost invariably in doing so they will miss out something essential or add something unwise

2. The winning ad will run out of steam eventually and they won’t know how to create another.

However, I think this kind of thing will be on the increase in the next year or five, which is all the more reason to know what works, what doesn’t and why - whether you're the client or the agency. Otherwise when things go wrong you have no idea what to do.

That is why in my Commonsense Marketing programme I analyse work and tell you what makes it tick. I usually talk about stuff I wrote myself, because, as Shakespeare put it, “I can but speak of that which I do know".

But I also interview people who have succeeded and get them to explain what worked for them (and what didn’t). They are the only ones who can tell you.

One or two people who subscribed to the previous Commonsense have asked me if this is different. Well, as you will see if you go here, it is mostly new material.

But there is a very good reason for looking at old material again.  You forget most of what you read or see almost immediately. That is why at the start of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” you are asked to read each chapter twice, make notes and underline things that interest you.

And it's why I still pick up Claude Hopkins Scientific Advertising and find things I'd forgotten ...and I've been reading it for over 43 years.

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