Explaining myself on advertising

OK, so I got no comments on my posting where I said “...advertising doesn’t work ...” on the blog site.  I did get phone calls, text messages and a few emails.  Mostly from advertising sales people I know.  They didn’t read the entire statement on advertising.  They only saw those three words.  So let me be clear:

INTERNET advertising doesn’t work LIKE WE THINK IT DOES.  I’ll be even more specific.  ADVERTISING doesn’t work like we think it does.

I’ve said this before.  Everyone THINKS advertising increases sales directly.  Everyone THINKS advertising drives lead generation.  It does none of that.  Advertising only reinforces and validates a decision that has already been made.  No one looks at an ad and says, “Holy crap, I need me one of them!”   Unless they are an idiot, that is.  No thinking person believes advertising.  Ask the minion in the next cubicle if he believes what ads push... unless you know he’s an idiot ... well, that actually might prove the point.  But I digress.

People make decisions to purchase goods and services through individual filters.  Most of it is based on discussions with their peers.  70 percent of all buying decisions are based on peer recommendation.  But everyone gets buyers remorse after the purchase or cold feet before.  Seeing advertising, even fleetingly on a website, validates the decision and drives it through to completion or establishes a level of trust for future decisions.

I’ll give you a personal example.  I drive a Chrysler Pacifica.  Bought it five years ago when I needed to transport a larger staff and a younger family.  I was looking for a “classy” larger car.  I was originally looking at German luxury cars and the VW SUV but didn’t like the price.  So I did a web search and the Pacifica popped up.  I looked at the Chrysler website and got more information.  I did research on line and at car dealerships.  In the end, I bought the car. Before that time, I could not remember a single Chrysler ad.  I would NEVER think about buying a Chrysler.  When I was signing the paperwork I told the salesman that I never thought about Chrysler until that point.  Now I notice Chrysler advertising.  I am concerned about the company’s future.  I read articles about Chrysler and it’s products.  All of Chrysler’s advertising validates the decision I made five years ago and makes me feel good about my decision.  That’s not a bad thing.  But advertising had absolutely no influence on my buying decision and that is not unusual.

So what happens when a company doesn’t advertise?  How many deals did you think you had in the bag only to disappear just before the contracts were signed?  How many previous customers went to your competitors ... especially those who got buzz going in the press that used to be supported by your advertising?  It used to be that you could market on the cheap by just using trade shows and PR to generate buzz, but that was before the companies that supported your efforts with their advertising decided to stop.  Yes, it is killing their business as well, but they can last longer than you.

Advertising does work, just not the way you think it does.  But because you think the way you do, your industry is failing.  Think about it.