Low store traffic is only a symptom, not the disease. And if advertising could always cure the disease, then advertising would always increase traffic. But advertising doesn’t always work. The traditional excuse is, “We must be reaching the wrong people.” But I’ve never met any wrong people, have you? Which brings us to that terrifying mirror so few business owners are willing to look into: “Why aren’t more customers coming to my store?” As you look into that Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall, I’ve got some questions about why those customers may be missing:
1. Is it because they don’t know about you?
This is the easiest problem to fix. To increase your Share of Voice, just dip into your pocket and spend. Determine how many people you can afford to reach properly and then make these people your own. As your ad budget increases, you’ll be able to reach a larger number of people properly. (“Properly” means “with sufficient repetition to drive your message into long-term, chemical memory.”) The goal of advertising is to be the company a person thinks of immediately when the need for your product or service arises. (If you fall short of long-term memory, your message will be gradually erased by sleep. Neurologically, long-term memory is the result of Salience x Repetition. The greater the Salience -impact, urgency, relevance, emotionality- of your message, the less Repetition is needed. But be careful here; nothing erodes a brand quite so quickly as the ad written by an anxious advertiser trying to create instant demand with artificial hype.
2. Is it because they do know about you?
Ouch. That’s a pointed question. Like most advertisers, you’re not ready to hear that your company may have become irrelevant. But when you’re offering the wrong product, the wrong styles, the wrong prices or delivering the wrong experience, no amount of clever advertising can overcome it. What are your customers saying that you’re not hearing? Has the time come to reinvent your company? In my 25 years as an advertising consultant, my great successes have come as a result of working with businesses that were ready to reinvent themselves. In the Advertising Performance Equation, (Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads, chapters 33 through 38,) your customer’s experience and the word-of-mouth that flows from it are known as the Personal Experience Factor. Is there a chance that yours needs to be adjusted?
3. Is it because they think they know about you, but don’t really?
In this case, you need to increase the Impact Quotient (salience, impact, relevance) of your ads by speaking more directly to what’s in the heart of your customer. But Impact Quotient isn’t just about more colorful ad writing. A bad idea, colorfully presented, is still a bad idea. Impact Quotient is about choosing better content for your ads. Talk to the customer in the language of the customer about what matters to the customer. Have your ads been answering a question that no one was asking?
From the Monday Morning Memo
October 6, 2003