The words most of us want to hear at the end of a first date are “Do you want to come in for a coffee?”
Now, of course, you don’t actually want a coffee.
And, in fact, coffee isn’t actually what’s being offered.
This is an example of the difference between ‘marketing’ and ‘marketing comms’.
There’s what you actually want (marketing).
And then there’s the language you use to get it (comms).
They are not the same.

We don’t just blurt out what’s on our mind.
First we work out what our desired finish point is, then we work backwards to what we need.
In this case, we need to be alone together, somewhere we won’t be disturbed.
Without that nothing else can happen.
Having identified the marketing strategy, we turn to marketing comms. How can we discuss that?
Well the offer of a coffee can be accepted or refused without commitment or rejection on either side.
“Coming in for a coffee?” allows us to move, in incremental steps, to the desired conclusion.
But without that, nothing else can happen.
Although what is said isn’t what either side wants, we use the communications that will lead towards the result we want.
We know a marketing brief (what we want) is not a comms brief (what we say).
In our everyday lives we know the difference perfectly well.
So how come we can’t tell the difference in our working lives?
How come we confuse the business objective (marketing) with advertising (marketing comms)?
Why would we expect the brief for both to be the same?
Why would we expect the advertising to just blurt out the result marketing wants?
When we’re selling a house, the marketing brief is to get as much for it as we can.
But we don’t stand at the door and say that to potential buyers.
We put some bread in the oven, or brew a fresh pot of coffee.
Why do we do that, we’re not selling bread or coffee?
But we know the smell of baking or coffee will make the house seem more attractive.
And if the buyers find the house attractive, they might decide they would like to live there.
And if they decide to live there, they might make an offer.
But standing at the front door saying “We want as much for this house as we can get” won’t make it seem more attractive.
So they probably won’t want to live there.
So they won’t make an offer.
That’s where most advertising goes wrong.
Confusing marketing with marketing comms.
David Ogilvy said “The essence of strategy is sacrifice.”
You can’t do everything.
So you have to sacrifice everything that isn’t essential.
You have to decide exactly where the pressure point is that advertising can effect.
And just do that.
The traditional model for retail is: Awareness, Footfall, Conversion.
1) Awareness: people can’t buy anything unless they know it exists.
2) Footfall: people can’t buy from you unless they come to you.
3) Conversion: people may be aware of what you sell, they may even visit your store, but someone needs to close the sale.
That is the traditional marketing brief for retail.
But marketing comms can’t do all those jobs.
So which job should comms (advertising) concentrate on?
A salesman’s job is 3) Conversion: closing the sale.
But no salesman can close a sale if no one’s in the shop.
In which case the priority is 2) Footfall: get them to visit your shop.
But no one will come unless they want what you sell.
In which case the priority is 1) Awareness: tell people what you sell and why they should be interested.
Now in a crowded marketplace, it’s a fight for attention.
Impact and simplicity are vital.
And if you try to do all those jobs you will end up doing none.
So decide which job it’s crucial for marketing comms to do.

Then invite them in for a coffee.

  • Rodger Stanier

    Brilliant. Been working in advertising for years and never heard the process so simply explained. 

  • Dave Trott

    Thanks Roger.
    I’m a big believer in what Bill Clinton said, ‘Explanation trumps eloquence.”

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