The answer to the question “Why Advertise?” seems to be quite simple: “To increase general public awareness of the products and services that my company offers to our customers and thereby create more traffic…(and ultimately ,more SALES)…”
Where this simple answer gets complicated is within the actual process of identifying an advertising opportunity — then creating, producing and implementing the advertising message in a way that is memorable to the public. If this is accomplished, a commercial or print ad or store signage or an outdoor billboard will trigger increased demand and, in turn, will generate additional customer traffic in your stores. If your stores are well stocked with plenty of attractive product, and are a clean and comfortable environment in which to shop — enhanced by your friendly and helpful sales associates — then the magic of increased sales occurs.
Then, the marketing/advertising circle is completed and the customer leaves the store feeling that they have had a positive shopping experience. And this leads to repeat visits and additional purchases by the customer. You’ve got ‘em hooked…
But, as usual, there’s a catch — and a big one at that. What we are faced with as retailers is something that everybody else in the retail business is faced with — and that is competition. Many of our competitors sell the same things we do.
The constant question that we have asked in our marketing/advertising planning is, “How can we tell the public that we are different from our competitors?” That we are better merchants — that we have friendlier people and better products and services and better value and colder soft drinks and fresher coffee and cleaner stores and on and on. How do we tell them that there are a lot of things that one can only get at OUR STORES?
We do this through what is called “Strategic Differentiation” that is, telling the public about the “difference” they can expect by shopping at your stores. Whatever slogan you select, it should be a promise that your stores are “different from your competition.” And with this advertising slogan, everything you talk about (in your advertising) then becomes “Another (your company name) Difference.”
You are the only convenience store in your competition area that has “The XXX Difference” or the “The XXX Difference” …in essence, you have differentiated your brand from your competitors.
The same would be true with “The FREEZIN’ SEASON” for your frozen products or “The PIZZA PLACE” or “The FOUNTAIN FILL-UP.” Those are all clearly unique differences between you and your competitors. In so doing, you have established a “unique and proprietary difference” between you and your competitors.
Now, just as an exercise, how many total advertising messages do you think you are exposed to every day? Would you believe that experts tell us that the average American is exposed to between 3,000 and 4,000 advertising message each day? This includes radio, TV and newspaper, but also things like magazines, billboards, flyers, signs on stores, yard signs, even down to matchbook covers.
And how many of these messages do you think actually get through to the average person?
These same experts tell us that only 6 to 10 of these messages actually get through and make an impression on an average person. It’s probably a part of our defense system, because if all of them got through, we’d probably be raving lunatics by the end of the day.
Think about this: what do you suppose it is about those 6-10 messages that lets them cut through the clutter and make an impression on you?
Well, here’s the magic answer: the ones that get through are the ones that interest the consumer — the ones that make them say, “Hmmm, there’s something interesting going on here, I think I’ll pay attention.” In other words, these 6-10 messages each have something in them for them. “What’s in it for me?” is another way of saying it. That’s an internal desire that all humans have.
If a radio commercial or TV commercial or newspaper ad or a matchbook cover satisfies the “What’s In It For Me?”syndrome that exists within all of us, then that is a successful advertising message. It makes an impression. It grabs you by the lapels and pulls you into the commercial or ad. And then, many times, because they are interested, the person acts on that impression by actually going out and buying the product.
Let’s say that it’s a hot, sultry summer day and you hear a commercial about a special price on fountain drinks at your stores. The “What’s In It For Me?” magic will jump out from the radio at the prospective customer. And just as simple as that, two things are satisfied: cooling off with a frosty fountain drink and saving money at the same time. And the big plus is that YOUR STORES are the place to make that happen.
Now you know the “Why” in the question “Why Advertise?” And, we’ve introduced you to some of the “How to Advertise” concepts which capitalize on the “What’s In It For Me?” syndrome within each of us.
In future issues of “AD Vantage Points,” we’ll explore more of the “How” and actually get into some of the mechanics of determining marketing and product promotional needs, seasonal considerations, copywriting, commercial and print production, media buying and the actual distribution and placement of the commercial messages.