First and foremost the ad executive’s role is to help their clients meet their business objectives while presenting their business in the best possible light. They accomplish this by helping them fine-tune the message to ensure that it’s relevant. Through research they’re able to maintain a detailed understanding of the consumer’s needs, wants, desires and aspirations. And they do it within the parameters of budget realities. They also provide an objective voice by bringing with them an outside perspective that clients and businesses can’t find internally because, “they know their business a little too well and therefore make assumptions that aren’t as obvious to someone outside their business, like their customers.” That’s why any ad person worth their salt makes sure that any and all recommendations are steeped in research.
Speaking of research, it helps keep the ad executive and their client’s business or service ahead of the competition, by analyzing and interpreting those forces shaping consumer behavior by understanding what really matters to the consumer. Not what we think should matter (to the consumer) or what we’d like for them to care about. In my agency experience I’ve learned that this is easier said than done. Businesses need to let go of conventional assumptions of what (they think) will motivate their target audience. In the advertising world we compare that line of thinking to “going out and getting yourself a dog, but insisting on (still) doing their own barking.” In essence, why not let the advertising people do what they do best, so that you can concentrate on doing what you do best?
That’s why I suggest we always start with research. Because research will demonstrate how these long-held assumptions are worse than helpful if they speak to a consumer mindset that no longer exists, in this rapidly changing world we live in.
• Communication today must focus on consumer wish fulfillment not advertiser wish fulfillment.
• A product or a service is a thing; a brand is a promise.
• The world has changed. Advertising today is no longer about selling. It’s about creating relationships that cultivate an emotional preference for your client’s brand.
• Remember, competitors can duplicate any product or service if they set their minds to it. The one thing your competitors can never duplicate is your brand.
• Great brands convey a single promise that resonates with the consumer because (thanks to research) it is directly linked to a fervent wish or solution to a problem.
Great brands have the ability to inspire and attract customers with such passion that they (the customer) aggressively seek out a specific brand within the category. This can only be accomplished if your advertising recognizes and speaks directly to the consumer’s changing mindset and lifestyle. That’s what being relevant is all about.
James McKenna is the branding manager for the City of Lee’s Summit. Reach him at JMcKenna@lschamber.com.