April 3, 2007

Advertising is story time

We've all seen him. The roadside guy dressed like a chicken holding a sign announcing the opening of the new barbecue place. Or the dancing guy spinning a sign for the new wireless carrier.

They are real-life pop-up ads.

We all look at them and dismiss them. Say they don't work. A friend of mine goes so far as to claim that advertising as a whole "doesn't work" on him. But brand awareness and location awareness are worth something. Maybe you're not in the market for a new cell phone (or barbecued chicken) today. But when you are, these companies are betting that a little part of your brain will have filed the information away and you'll remember their store.

You should market your products and services the same way online. No, I'm not advocating you dress up like a chicken. But you should think "long-term." Ads are not all about click throughs. Conversion is not the "be-all end-all." Sometimes it takes multiple messages to get the point across. Dell doesn't expect you to buy a computer every time you see one of their ads. But when you're in the market for one, maybe you'll think of Dell.

Advertising is about telling a story as much as it is selling a product. The Mac vs. PC ads today are a great example. They never say "go buy a Mac" or give you a price or any call to action at all. Years ago Infiniti introduced a new car with an ad campaign that never even showed the car. Ads for investment companies seem to tell a story that if I put my money with them, I'll live to a ripe old age, be in good health, and have great looking, well-behaved grandchildren.

So figure out what story you want to tell, then get out there and dance.

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