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July 1, 2010
How You Can Stop Wasting 50 Percent of Your Advertising

In the late 1800s, John Wanamaker said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”


Wow. To think he was probably spending all of that money just in newspaper and magazines. If he thought 50 percent was wasted before the advent of social, digital, TV, outdoor, and even radio, he really would feel like he was wasting money these days.

With so many different ways to communicate with consumers, there seems to be a temptation to jump right into the conversation of where to advertise. What tactics will be best for marketing?  


In order to be more effective, it is much better to back that train up a little bit and start by focusing on a plan. Being more proactive and plan-oriented rather than reactive and tactically focused is going to deliver better results and a much better return on the investment.


Focus: Why?

This has to be the first step because it centers on the core of everything -- what is the focus of the company and/or product? What benefit(s) do you provide to the consumer? How are you different than your competition? Why should the consumer choose you? All too often, companies want to focus on a laundry list of features rather than focusing on what is important to the consumer, the benefit. If you can’t tell the consumer why they should care, they won’t.


Connection: Who?

All too often, companies assume that "everyone” is their audience. If you try to be all things to all people, you will be nothing to no one. The more specific you can be, the better you will connect with the consumer. Who are you talking to? Get beyond just the general demographic profile. Using qualitative and quantitative data will only get you so far. You need to focus on the consumers' psychographics. What makes them tick? Why are they going to care about you? They aren’t -- they only care if your company and/or product can connect with them emotionally and deliver a benefit to their lives.


Harmony: Where?

With so many different tactical choices, the question of where is crucial. This gets to the heart of Wanamaker’s lament: “Where is the investment going to not be wasted?” Digging beyond the size and quantity of the audience in the demographic profile, the question really becomes, where can I connect with the consumer?  In addition, all of the different points have to be in harmony. They have to work together both in terms of content of message as well as visual representations of the brand.



When the initial stages of the plan have been implemented properly and the focus and connection work in harmony, consumers will begin to do your job for you. They will become brand advocates, which is the holy grail of marketing. When consumers become a part of your tribe, they will sing your praises from the mountaintops and promote your products around the water cooler. That is when you know you have overcome the Wanamaker concern.

When you can focus on the plan in advance, you can build a more effective brand plan and develop those brand advocates who will make your business successful.


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Jaci Russo is a co-founder and senior partner of The Russo Group, a national branding agency located in Lafayette, LA. She is a brand strategist with experience including strategic planning, consumer insight, brand management, national product launches, and media management for clients in a cross section of industries. She speaks to organizations across the country on the power of branding, changing the conversation, message training, and how to brand through social media.

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