Ok firstly, let’s make some assumptions:

  1. Advertisers want their advertising to be seen by their target market
  2. Advertisers want that target market to but whatever the advertisers are selling

To my mind, and correct me if I’m wrong (send a mail to info@foozi.co.za), this is the whole point of advertising – to sell more crap (or the answer to all life’s problems, whatever) and make more money. All the fluff about building brand loyalty and creating awareness and being seen in the community or sponsoring whatever event, sport or charity, is ultimately meant to get the consumer to buy the advertiser’s stuff. Then the advertiser can buy someone else’s crap and the cycle continues.

Somewhere in-between there is also the sales function, but in most industries, the sales people are only middle-men between the advertising and the actual purchase (Yes, I know there are exceptions, if you want to complain, send a mail to info@foozi.co.za). So, assuming that you’re in total agreement with me on the above, and I’m happy to make that assumption, that leads us to the crucial question:

“How do you use advertising to sell more crap?”

This, of course is one of the ultimate questions in any business, along with “How do I make massive profits and still show SARS a loss?” and “If I send an e-mail, and the recipient doesn’t receive it, where does it actually go?” Fortunately, my extensive minutes of research and painstaking first-page-only googling techniques have uncovered the solution to the advertising vs sales of crap relationship.

TV: Bad (short impression time, many viewers not part of your target market and its super-expensive, with production, flighting, catering etc. – you need to sell a LOT of crap to pay for a television campaign)

Radio: Little bit less bad, but still bad (almost same reasons as TV, plus your eyes get bored)

Print: Really bad (nobody looks at magazine or newspaper ads anymore – I bet you can’t remember a single ad from the magazine you just read [readers of this column may pass this test, since marketers are more likely to notice print ads than the general public])

Online: Depends what you’re selling, mostly bad (If you’re selling porn, then online advertising can be pretty good. If you’re selling anything other than porn, then online advertising is almost useless, unless you’re selling something for free, like information – which someone else would be paying for e.g. advertisers on your free information portal)

Mobile: Depends how you use it, almost always utterly shocking (mostly spam = very bad, otherwise refer to Online)

Outdoor: Getting worse (The outdoor realm is starting to get very cluttered and impact is heading the way of the print world)

Alternative: Brilliant - Ok, I know this is a very broad group, but the whole concept of alternative advertising is exactly what makes it work. Its alternativeness is what makes it memorable. And if done correctly, that memorable connection can get your target market to buy your answer to life’s problems (or crap). The bottom line is this: If your message or platform is unusual and aimed at your target market, it WILL make an impact, and assuming you are actually selling a reasonable product for a reasonable price, you WILL make more sales because of your advertising. Because of this high-impact factor of alternative advertising, it’s usually much cheaper than traditional forms of advertising. The recall of consumers is a lot higher so there can be much fewer contacts made between the advertiser and the target market rather that the high frequency of contacts required to make radio, print or television ads memorable.

So, what does this mean for the average advertiser?

If you’ve got oodles of money, and don’t like keeping it or making more of it, then go with the traditional forms of advertising. Otherwise, the alternative route is worth looking into.

You may also like to read: The Consumer Cost of Advertising or Influencing the Influentials


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