Declining advertising effectiveness. A new truth.

By Tom Dougherty

Why your advertising is not effective

As a corporation, Stealing Share battles many misconceptions because we define ourselves as a brand development firm. Most companies confuse the idea of brand with the product name. They only think about brand when they are launching or relaunching a product into the market. They don’t even think about brand when measuring declining advertising effectiveness. The misconception is that brand is something you consider and invest in only at the product’s germinal stage. That is, it’s simply managed for the rest of the product’s life cycle.

Few Need Name Changes

declining advertising effectiveness

Declining advertising effectiveness

However, the majority of our work does not involve a name change or new name. In fact, most of our critical brand work empowers an existing brand to be more important to the target audience. We’re making all advertising and communications more effective. In fact, there is often a big disconnect between what companies believes brand is and what it actually controls and effects. The tendency today is to hold your advertising and marketing goals beyond reasonable possibilities. (Read about the need for a name change here).

We all want to improve advertising effectiveness

Most of us define our advertising effectiveness as delivering marketing message in compelling and convincing manners. But declining advertising effectiveness costs you more than money. It costs you your brand. We expect our marketing departments to segment and understand the target audience. They should find opportunity to grow share and exploit competitive weakness. Both of these expectations are valid. But advertising is tactical. Marketing strategy needs to support it.  Brand strategy provides the permission for both to be important.

Great brand development understands the preceptive fabric of the target audience and accounts for the societal context. Then, it builds a foundation of permission on both. This permission makes your marketing and advertising thrive and drive. Without this foundation, your marketing and communications cannot reach their full potential. Your target audience does not see them as fully believable based on their own sense of brand permission. Your advertising effectiveness is low.

To improve advertising you need an outside view

Companies have marketing departments and most have advertising departments. But none have brand departments. They might have brand managers (like P&G, and Unilever) but brand development cannot happen internally. You must have an objective view to develop brand strategy to steal market share. To do it effectively, you must challenge everything. That includes all preconceived notions or tightly held beliefs. Brand is so germinal to your success that it is nearly impossible to see it objectively when you are on the inside. This fatal flaw often pushes brand onto the back burner as only a name change or product launch.

Evaluating your current brand objectively is akin to looking at your beloved family photo album and saying, “The kids are very homely.” Many times, this is precisely the place where Stealing Share finds itself. Our objectivity and lack of political ties allows us not only to say it but also be heard. When your declining  advertising effectiveness is not where it should be, your problem may very well be a brand issue and not an advertising problem. Ask yourself this. How many ad agencies has your company changed in the past 10 years?

Improving advertising despite declining advertising effectiveness

declining advertising effectiveness

Ad Agencies see everything as execution

A new ad campaign gives you a shot of adrenaline because newness give you a bump in sales. But after that bump, you’re left to trying to boost sales through discounts, promotions and increases in media spending. A great brand makes your advertising work harder because it is a strategy and not a tactic. It only grows more powerful as time moves forward.

Define your brand as a highly polished reflection of your customer’s precepts (beliefs). Then, your advertising works harder. Your marketing improves and your product or service sells even if it is not the lowest priced or the most convenient. The market is so crowded and noisy today that your customers spend most of their time filtering out messages. The estimated 1,800 marketing messages that they receive everyday does not even include those that they receive online. The chatter is such a din that customers must find a means to turn down the volume just to maintain a sense of normalcy. Therefore, they tune out messages they believe are not vital to their own sense of self.

Filtered messages lead to declining advertising effectiveness 

If you have ever bought a home, you’ve seen this phenomena first hand. When in the market for a new home, everywhere you went you noticed the Coldwell Banker, Century 21, ERA, Prudential or local real estate company’s For Sale signs. Funny thing. After you bought your home, the signs seemed to disappear. Why is that? It is simple. Your mind decided the noise of “For Sale” signs was no longer part of your core identity. It simply pushed them off into your mind’s junk mail box and turned on your SPAM filter.

Your product message battles these filters everyday. Your goal must be to get past these filters and into the considered set. Tactical marketing and advertising plans try to overwhelm this filter by talking about the category or product or service. You can’t make your brand important to the prospect by claiming that it owns or represents category benefits.

Brand permission, when it is crafted to reflect the beliefs of the customer, moves around the spam filters by identifying the person. At some point, the need to buy a house goes away and is sated. So all the Coldwell Banker, Century 21, and Prudential signs fade away. They are no longer important.

However, the need to see oneself as a “caring provider for my family” does not. Finding the key to personal importance is the main function and domain of your brand. Uncovering the preceptive life markers is the science of it. Understanding this perspective and keeping your marketing and advertising on brand strategy is the difference between winning and losing. Improve your declining advertising effectiveness.

Read more here on improving advertising

Advertising Recall

Remember the brand, not the commercial