Advertising doesn’t work . . . Or does it?

Advertising Doesn't Work or Does it“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, and the problem is I don’t know which half.” – Lord Leverhulme, creator of the Lever Soap brands.

Every day, whether we like it or not, notice it or not, we are influenced by advertising.

Or are we?

That’s the $60,000 question.

While some people are convinced advertising doesn’t work, probably just as many think it does work.

The effectiveness of advertising will continue to be debated as long as we lack an accurate measurement of its influence….which may be a very long time!

We do have a couple anecdotes that I believe greatly point to the power of marketing and specifically advertising.

First, the billions of dollars companies spend on advertising every year. (The US television ad market alone is $70 billion.) There must be some reason companies are spending to that degree, right?

Of course. It’s a business investment. Just like investing into updated interior or a new website. Or, or, or. We throw money at our businesses like crazy in the name of “investment.”

Or the less definable, “hope.”

We humans love to measure things and some investments can’t be accurately measured. Even though some advertising is somewhat measurable, so much of it isn’t. Influence certainly isn’t measurable.

How do you measure the cozy feelings you get from McDonald’s commercials…even if you’re a vegan?

Or how about the image of a fat and jolly Santa? In fact, a chunky Santa Claus didn’t come into our collective consciousness until 1931 when Coca Cola began blazing the portly gent’s smiling face and rosy cheeks in its branding. Before then, Santa was slim and trim.

How do you measure that knowingness?

You can’t, But it sure makes me feel good about having a Coke and a Smile! (Even when I know you can clean corrosion off a car battery with  a Coke. Good stuff, right?!)

Another interesting point to ponder: How many products do you buy that aren’t advertised in some way? Probably few if any.

Some argue that they don’t need to advertise. That all their business comes from word-of-mouth. If that’s the case, that’s wonderful, but it likely didn’t start that way, and it’s likely that your business could grow a whole lot more with a few more shout-outs to the world.

If for no other reason, advertising creates a momentum, both seen and unseen.

In woo-woo speak, it stirs up the universe.

It’s like saying your garage sale can be just as successful on a sleepy side street without a single sign directing traffic to your sale. You’ll only get the random drive bys, and maybe if you’re lucky, a little word-of-mouth.

But, can you really argue that advertising at the corner wouldn’t have helped?

Whether in print, radio, television or on the web, if we see or hear about a brand or business, we’re as influenced by it as we are by the wind. Or a smile. Or a giggle.

It moves us in some way. Both good and bad, and mostly indiscernibly  Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But the more we see of it, the more likely we’ll be influenced. It’s like in politics. He who has the most signs wins. Repeat, repeat. And then do it again. And again.

There’s a contagiousness to advertising. Good advertising that is.

But let’s leave that for another blog post….