Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mental silos.

Here's the scenario. You work to advertise a brand where 80% of sales are attributed to customer referrals. Half the people in your agency immediately latch onto that statistic and begin saying things like, "this means we have to optimize social networks. We need a Facebook strategy." And so on. Further they trumpet this data to proclaim, once again, the obsolescence of traditional advertising. After all, it makes little sense to spend 80% of your ad budget on traditional advertising is 80% of your sales come from word of mouth.

I started as a copywriter in the advertising department of Bloomingdale's department store here in New York. The store's service was woeful. They had stock-keeping issues and often ran out of products a store of its ilk should never run of. Nevertheless, everyday the place was packed like sardines on the 6 train.

Once in a meeting I asked a big wig executive why the store was so crowded if service and selection was so spotty. "We succeed," she told me "because people are insecure. They figure if they buy something at Bloomingdale's--whether it's a blouse or a dining-room table, it indicates they have taste, because at Bloomingdale's, we have taste."

Here's my point. Most people don't know what to think about a product until some sort of superego informs them. That, in part, is a role of television. It's a taste maker. It gives people permission to advocate for a product or service.

It's been said that 1/3 of all auto-advertising, for instance, serves not to drive sales but to validate purchase. That is to give buyers permission to propagate word of mouth.

The silo-ites, in an effort to dominate the internal life and assume power within agencies, don't see things this way. They want to believe that "their" medium, and their medium only, is the only one that matters.

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