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April 23, 2003
The End of Advertising As We Know It
 

Advertising, as you know it today, is dead.

But hold on -- don't break out the handkerchiefs and black veils just yet. The end of advertising as we know it is in fact a very good thing. Whether we want to admit it or not, the truth is that most advertising today just doesn't work; it's a colossal waste of money; and if you don't pay attention, it could end up destroying your company and your brand. The loud, jump-cut television ads; the endless litany of airport billboards; the pop-up ads you may be swatting away even as you're reading this -- they're all just so much noise that your customers are screening out, not taking to heart.

But all is not lost. Indeed, we are at, as I have titled my most recent book, The End of Advertising as We Know It. Next up? The future of advertising. And here's your first lesson in twenty-first-century advertising techniques: Don't believe the hype about hype.

Advertising is not an art form. It's not some fanciful creative activity governed by whim and desire. It's science, pure and simple. It's about selling stuff more often to more people for more money. To succeed, you've got to bring a rigorous, scientific discipline to your approach -- because you're in an environment where every single expenditure absolutely must generate a return.

It's simple?if you don't wake up every single day thinking of new reasons for your customers to buy from you -- you're just marking time until the end.

I prefer results over theory, battle-tested real-world strategies over ivory-tower hypotheses. I've built and maintained some of the biggest brands in the world, and I've helped countless companies develop their own brands as well, using strategic deployment of advertising. Advertising is a lot more than television commercials: it includes branding, packaging, celebrity spokespeople, sponsorships, publicity, customer service, and every other aspect of your business.

My previous book, The End of Marketing As We Know It (sensing a trend here?), won nationwide acclaim -- Time named me one of the three best pitchmen of the 20th century?and inspired me to start the Zyman Marketing Group. My clients range from banks to ski resorts, from telecommunications companies to video rental giants. All of these companies have something in common: they're interested in selling their products based on benefits, not just intrinsic qualities. It's a perspective that too many companies are slow to embrace. Are you still in this lagging group, doggedly pushing the same tired tenets of "awareness" and "image"? It's time to ditch this old baggage and move to the front of the pack.

It's funny. Many corporate bigwigs are interested in talking about absolutely anything surrounding advertising EXCEPT actual revenue generated. Not long ago, I ran into a friend of mine who's the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He proudly boasted that his company now has 70 percent awareness. "That's great," I replied, "but how are sales?" Wouldn't you know it, he suddenly realized he was late for a meeting and had to run.

I get the same kind of reaction when I give speeches virtually anywhere in the world. Major koretsus in Japan, marketing managers in London, and professors and students at the school of business in Warsaw all seem to believe that while casting advertising in a scientific light is an interesting idea, it just doesn?t apply to their company. They're different, they say, and what works for others won't necessarily work for them.

Guess again. They aren't different. Sales are sales, revenue is revenue. I don't care whether you're selling heating oil in Ireland, souvenirs in the Australian outback, or fighter jets in 125 countries. If you want to stay in business, your goals are the same: maximize your assets and sell more stuff. But if you have no way to differentiate yourself from your competitors, if you don't think about your own compelling value proposition, well, we all know how that story ends.

The way enterprises are operating now not only isn't working, but is actually making existing problems worse. If you?re in the ad business, you should embrace that advertising isn't about winning awards or creating popular catchphrases, it's about making money--and anything that doesn't serve that end has to go. And if you're not in the ad business, you better believe that you still need to know how to evaluate advertising effectiveness and understand how to best use the marketing tactics that drive results.

Your customers are waiting. Are you going to serve them -- or will your competition?


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Sergio Zyman is the real thing when it comes to marketing expertise. His success as Chief Marketing Officer of the Coca-Coca Company led Time to name Sergio one of the top 3 pitchmen of the 20th Century. He is currently the Chairman and Founder of Zyman Marketing Group, and the world's top marketing executives take heed when Sergio speaks. Talent Zoo is proud to present Sergio's insights. http://www.zmarketing.com
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