How to Multiply Ad Effectiveness

multi-legsIn an new booklet called What Business Are You In?, media consultants Paul Kurnit and Steve Lance give a quick 50-page overview of what most businesses need to know to start a sensible marketing plan. Many businesses ask “what media should I be in?” The answer on page 29 states:

“Your communication plan should identify the vehicles and platforms that will best connect with your consumer… How can you best reach your consumer multiple times in multiple ways at multiple times of day that will inspire multiple sales opportunities and occasions?”

In case you missed it, the key word is “multiple.”  In advertising this is frequently called “Frequency,” and is often overlooked by small- and medium-sized businesses.

Ad studies show that consumers need to be “touched” several times to integrate a message into their psyches.  One quarter-page ad run four times is more powerful than one full-page ad, because of frequency. This is not to denigrate full-page ads.  Size does matter, and one full-page ad run four times is more powerful than both a quarter-page ad run four times, or a full-page ad run one time.

This is not just a print formula. It’s an ad formula. For instance, one 30-second spot on radio is more likely to not only be heard, but remembered if it’s run multiple times either over a day, week, or month. It’s the reason you’ll sometimes hear one 30-second ad run twice in the same minute.  We know people hear without listening, listen without retaining, and only retain after a message breaks through to their brains after multiple repeats. As our mothers long suspected, things really do go in one ear and out the other. The goal of effective advertising is to get the message stuck in a brain before it exits out the other ear.

When considering an ad campaign, frequency can’t be discussed frequently enough. It’s what makes one message into multiple messages and multiplies the effectiveness of any ad campaign. Even famous Superbowl TV commercials don’t run once. They just get their debut at the Superbowl and then, if they don’t bomb with the public, are the start of a usually much longer campaign.

 The Walk-Away:  A step is not a walk. One ad is not a campaign. To get anywhere in advertising, make sure your ads aren’t just one step forward, but a true walk toward getting you the results you want.

Print Ads Used in Phenemy Positioning War

It started at the Consumer Electronics Show at the beginning of 2013, then moved to a full page ad in major nationphone legsal papers, only to be countered in the same papers soon thereafter.  What is it?  The newest phone ad wars between AT&T and T-Mobile!

Newspapers love ad wars almost as much as oil companies like price wars, and divorce lawyers like contentious divorces.  But, besides bringing in unexpected ad revenue, there are lessons to be learned from these phenemy (phone enemy) ad campaigns and not all of them are positive.

Companies have two basic ways to get their side of the story out — PR and advertising.  Effective PRcan get company spokespeople on pundit talk shows and inches in commentary sections of newspapers. If done really well, it can get the company quoted in an actual news article. But there are never any guarantees with PR.  On the other, Advertising does guarantee placements. It’s why during strikes, elections, employee recognition periods, and even phone wars, you’ll see a proliferation of print ads, because nothing tells a story better or quicker than a full-page ad in print.

Unfortunately, it’s not clear the recent AT&T and T-mobile ad wars were effective. Here’s why.

  • The campaign was limited to national publications.
  • It was based on a conference speech that was also limited to industry insiders.
  • The company with the leadership position gave free press to the competitor.

Here’s what happened. The new CEO of T-mobile made a snide remark about AT&T. Few might have heard the comment or given it credence since AT&T has the leadership position. But, instead of letting the comment slide, AT&T came out fighting with limited national ads. Most people never saw the ads, but others started talking about it as it hit the trades. In essence, AT&T gave a broader voice to the initial T-mobile argument.

The AT&T ads could have worked if they had been more widespread, but the creative also gave unnecessary ink to T-mobile. The AT&T ads claimed T-mobile had two times the dropped calls, two times the failed calls, and 50% slower download speeds. This drew added attention to the ongoing complaint about AT&Ts own dropped calls rather than playing to its strengths.

As noted in the now classic marketing text “Positioning The Battle for Your Mind” by Al Ries and Jack Trout, “At almost every step of the way, the leading brand has the advantage.”  By responding to the T-mobile posturing, AT&T gave up some of that advantage and opened minds to the possibility that T-mobile may be right. Or, as T-mobile’s CMO Mike Sievert said to Advertising Age, “AT&T doth protest too much.”

broken legCheck out the AT&T and T-mobile ads and judge for yourself.  Then, take a step back and think how the full page ad space could have been used more effectively, because a full page is a terrible thing to waste.

The Walk-Away:  Advertising should never be done defensively or off your main message because instead of giving a campaign legs, it creates confusion.  It’s more like trying to run on a broken leg. All you get is more injured.