Category Archives: Marketing

Advertising & Promotion

Why buy? Why buy from you? Why buy now? Why buy?

It is amazing to me how much money is spent on ineffective advertising and promotion. This is not a simple topic, nor one that can be summarized in one short note. But there is a simple basic idea that when applied to any ad, promotion or sales pitch, is a good test of whether it will be effective.

Look at the ad and ask yourself the following three questions from your target customer’s point of view: Why buy? Why buy from you? Why buy now? Why buy?

What is the buyers motivation? An ad showing a fit man and woman in workout clothes appeal to one’s need (or desire) to get in shape. A photo of someone enjoying a delicious looking burger appeals to our basic need for food. What need does your ad appeal to? By the way, primal needs work best. Food, shelter, sex, etc.

Why buy from you?

So now that the potential customer is hungry for a burger, how are you going to get him or her to choose your restaurant? Price is one way, but usually not the best way. No business benefits from a price war. This is why fast food chains scramble to offer unique toys and prizes tied to popular movies. This is why better restaurants work to build a reputation based on good reviews in newspapers and magazines. What do you offer that motivates someone to choose you? How do you communicate that?

Why buy now?

What is going to motivate someone to act. Limited time offers are obvious examples. A sale, a special event. Christmas or Valentine’s day. Get in shape before summer. How do you generate a sense of urgency for what you are offering?

My favorite example

A memorable example of a promotion that passes this test are the Vege-matic ads that were on TV in the 60’s and 70’s. Why buy? …”look how easy it is, how much time you will save.” Why buy from you? “This product is not available in any stores.” Why buy now? If you order today, you will receive a free set of Ginzu Knives…” The success of this promotion spawned a whole industry of infomercials.

You may not want this type of image for your business. Fine. You are free to use your creativity to accomplish your goals with more style and subtlety. The point is that any effective ad, promotion or sales pitch succeeds on the basis of the strength of the answers to these questions.


What Makes Your Business Unique and Why Is That Important?

I will often ask a client to complete the following sentence: “Our business is the only one that _____.” Or “I am the only one who _____.” What makes your business unique and why is that important?

Differentiation is the key to effective marketing. The key to effective marketing is not clever ads. It is having clear advantages over your competition and then powerfully communicating those advantages.

You can run all the expensive ads you want, hire publicists, attend trade shows, build slick web sites, but if you do not have concrete differences in who you are or what you do, you are just shouting louder. Effective marketing is based on real advantages for potential customers to do business with you. The marketing tools of advertising and promotion are just ways of carrying that message to those clients. Customers are not interested in how big your promotion budget is, they want to know why they should pick you over some other. This is differentiation.

Quality and Service

Most of the time, clients will say, “we have better service,” or, “we have better quality.” That is fine. Better service and quality are important, but every company claims to have these. If you are going to use quality and service as differentiators, what you do that is better needs to be clearly and demonstrably different and your claim backed up by specifics.

Two Personal Examples

I like men’s shirts from Lands’ End, the catalog merchants. They fit well and seem to last forever. Once, a seam came slightly unraveled after many months of wear. Their policy is “Guaranteed, period.” I called them and they immediately replaced the shirt, no questions asked.

Another time, I had an old but expensive down jacket from North Face that after 15 years of hard use, had a broken zipper. I took it back to North Face to see if they could fix it in 2 days so that I could use it for a ski trip that very weekend. Not only did they fix it, but they did not charge me for the repair.  Their answer to my question about why they were not charging me was, “It is a North Face.”

Now that is a real difference—quality and service so exceptional that customers will tell stories about how good you are for years afterward.