As John Wanamaker stated over one-hundred years ago, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the trouble is I don't know which half,” still has truth in it today. As much as technology has had an impact on marketing & communication, it has done little for traditional advertising measurement, and I believe Mr. Wanamaker's challenge is much larger today.
According to consumer research firm Yankelovich, a person living in a city gets exposed to up to 5,000 advertisements a day (just a 'tad' more than in JW's day). People have no way of processing that volume of input. Thus we've all been trained to tune them out. True, every once in a while one sneaks through to grab our attention. But think about your day so far, how many can you recall? How much waste does that translate to?
As it has for all consumers, traditional advertising has especially lost its impact with mothers. Even if a mom notices an ad, she's likely also busy doing something else as well. As a result, she gives the ad only limited attention. Moms are also skeptical about what the ad says. In fact, Yankelovich states that the percentage of people who believe that companies don't tell the truth in advertising has reached a high of more than 75%. Yikes!
As a marketing professional, I don't like the sound of any of that. For companies that have built their businesses by imprinting images of the their brands in the minds of consumers through advertising, this can be very alarming. But change doesn't come easy. Billions are still spent each year writing catchy copy, producing beautiful images, and buying advertising space – and as we now see, most of it is ignored or disputed. So, if your business still continues along this path, now is the time to change!
Just stop all of the work going towards making ads, and put those resources (time, money, people) to work on engaging and interacting with mothers. There's a bigger payoff awaiting. Here's why.
Moms welcome service from businesses and interaction with brands. They are open to being a part of an experience that your brand offers, provided that its not just about advertising the product. They tell other moms about great experiences (not ads) they have with companies. This kind of word of mouth is what every business hopes for.
Moms understand what having a relationship with a company can be. The issues seems to be that most companies do not understand it themselves. They still look at their customers as just the people who buy their stuff, and think advertising enables that to happen. Instead, think of them as your mom, sister, wife, neighbor and the ways that your business can help and add value to her life.
Mothers are tired of being sold, and find it is refreshing when a business "goes out of its way." The idea of a business doing more than usual has become so novel, that it is easier than ever to stand out from the competition. A great example is Zappos.com which sells unremarkable products, but provides exceptional service by actively engaging customers. They didn't grow their business to incredible heights through advertising.
About The Author
It's time to cut that advertising budget and replace it with an engagement budget that serves the needs of mothers and builds relationships.
Kevin Burke founded Lucid Marketing to help brand marketers create and implement marketing programs that connect with moms and MomsWhoBlog, a news journal about mothers active in social media.
Through these endeavors, Kevin has worked with Disney, AOL, eHarmony, Boiron and others to build millions of lasting relationships with their customers. He has spoken at the Marketing to Moms Conference, Parent Publishers of America, KidScreen Summit, Word of Mouth Marketing Association, Association of Interactive Marketers, Association of National Advertisers, Association of Advertising Agencies, and Couture Jewelry Collection. Follow him on Twitter @kb33.