On Advertising

I got into a conversation about email and spam, which led me to think about advertising in general.  I don’t like unsolicited sales pitches – at all.  To me, the amount of effort you put into selling your product or service is directly related to its worthlessness.  Obviously, if something is completely useful, all you should have to do is show it or briefly explain it and it should sell itself.

But on the other hand, I don’t particularly hate advertising.  I actually appreciate and enjoy clever, well-crafted messages.  This difference of opinion made me think of three different types of advertising.

  • Hard Sell – This is the worst kind of advertising, done via phone call, street selling, mall kiosks, or even direct mail.  The ads that urge to to buy and sometimes warn, scare, or threaten you if you don’t.  There is always a consequence to not taking action.  Think about it.  Why would you ever want to attach a negative image to your product or service, even if it’s true?  Some people can’t afford the product or service or may not be in a position to buy it at all.  Now all your advertising has done is made them feel miserable.
  • Informational – This type covers a wide range.  There’s a fine line between Informational and Hard Sell and it usually depends on how much negativity or fear the ad generates.  However, in the median of this range, the primary intent is to simply inform the recipient that your company exists at all.  This type of ad combats the “I would’ve called, but I didn’t know such a place existed!” problem.  This is why I enjoy browsing random shops, because it’s good to know what’s out there.
  • Reminder – This type of ad is for well-established brands, like Coke, McDonalds, and most beers.  All the ad does is make you think of them.  These brands will also use Informational types of ads when they introduce new products, but lots of times, it’s just to evoke a mood or make you consider buying their product again.

The one that I was most interested in was the balance between Hard Sell and Informational.  When you are starting a business, you have to get your name out – Informational.  But at what point does it seem like desperation and start entering into Hard Sell territory?  The exact example I am thinking of is a former co-worker, who fell hard for real estate.  His focus within the broad scope of real estate is kind of in the scummy part: “We buy homes for cash!” “Invest with me and get a great return on your money!”  So, because his business focus is questionable, he’s going to have to push harder and yell louder for anyone to hear him.  This just moves his messages into the Hard Sell, where they are naturally resisted.

Although I do some work on the side, I don’t advertise anything.  In fact, I rarely even bring it up in conversation.  But somehow, whenever I am needed, an opportunity arises.

Comments are closed.