Why do people buy stuff!

We have been led to believe that “Madison Avenue” creates markets and force or entice consumers to buy stuff.  MacDonalds, Coca Cola, Proctor and Gamble, Nike, Ford, Delta Air Lines, Apple,  and thousands more all spend billions to get the great unwashed to buy their products. But there is something we need to remember:

Unless people are hungry, thirsty, dirty, barefoot, in need of transportation, communication and the like, they aren’t going to buy these products. There has to be a ‘need’, and the person must already at a minimum have thought about it, for the advertising these companies produce to work at all.

Sure, I guess you could get a person who wasn’t looking for lunch to buy a Big Mac, or someone who had no interest in style or sport to pick up the latest Nike, or someone who lived in New York City and walked and took the subway to buy a Ford, but it would be really REALLY difficult. The need must be there and frankly considered, before a sale can be made.

The problem is we can only actively think about a small number of issues at one time. If you are making a payroll, dealing with a recalcitrant employee, and taking a call from home about a broken pipe, its really difficult to consider a new revenue control system or that parking guidance system or that new bit of software you know you need.

Consider the CEO of a small company watching the Superbowl. He has is beer, popcorn, and is fully engrossed in the point spread. At half time a commercial for ATT comes on. It shows an executive calling his own company and getting put on hold. Then it notes that ATT can solve that problem.

Our hero stirs a bit, thinks “Wow, that has happened to me” and makes a note on the pad next to his chair to talk to someone in communications. He then goes back to the game.

The next day he calls Charlie in communications and says, “you know, we may have a problem with incoming phone calls. ATT seems to have a solution. Give em a call.”

ATT spent a million dollars a minute to make that happen. The problem already existed for our CEO, but ATT got it from his subconscious to his conscious just long enough for him to take action.

I looked through the ads in this month PT and out of the nearly 60 ads there, there were only a few that actually attempted to get the reader’s subconscious moving, peeking an interest so they would take action. That includes ads we put in promoting us.

We have a full page ad promoting our new web site parknews.biz. Here it is:

ParkNewsAd_0614 lowres (4)

Its wordy, it has no call to action, it doesn’t point out a need that the reader may have (lack of current news about their industry), nor perhaps how they could use that news to their advantage. It was created by the folks who created the web site and frankly, speaks to them (read that me and my staff) and not to the consumers.

How about a graphic of a perplexed parking manager talking to his boss. The boss says : “Sure but who else has done it?” The tag line: “Be prepared with current parking info – www.parknews.biz”

That’s it.  Clean, direct. and a reminder of that conversation you had when you were asked for information that you didn’t have. The inferred call to action — log on to parknews.biz and get the info you need.

When we create media, we tend to talk to ourselves. We list features, engineering successes, timelines, use pretty graphics, clever phrases, but do we hit the reader where he lives, show him his ‘pain’ and then the solution to it.

When Ford sells a van, they show a happy family safely going somewhere fun. The potential buyer would love to have his family safe and the kids quiet in the back seat. The Aerostar might not do it, but he may go look at one because of the ad,. Showing that it will carry a house full of furniture might not be on his mind, but quiet during the trip certainly is. (Ford will have a different ad for the same vehicle, focusing on carrying a house full of furniture, for those with that ‘need’)

Think about it.


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One Response to Why do people buy stuff!

  1. rta says:

    The main thing I remember from marketing classes in school was the phrase “sell the sizzle, not the steak”, and I am reminded of it every time I see a commercial for a steakhouse.

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