Your prospect, the liar!

Your prospect, the liar!

People are liars…

Rainmaker, this is one of the most important things you can ever understand.

People lie.  They lie to you.  But more importantly, they lie to themselves about their own preferences and their own behavior.

My friend and regular Breakthrough Marketing Secrets Jeff Moore recently shared an article written by a 20-year-old, about “How Millennials REALLY Feel About Your Annoying Online Adverts.”

If you really feel like you need to read it, you can click here.  However, I’m going to try to address the major points below, and why I think the author is dead-wrong.

Here’s the flawed premise of this article…

This guy — who apparently makes his living running PPC campaigns for clients — has seen a few ads online that he didn’t like.

Here are some he quoted…

“Like rock music? Jam out in this new app! Download Jammin’ now!”

“Looking for a place to eat in Boston? Bring four friends to Sanjay’s and receive 25% off!”

“Have you tried Naturala yoghurt? Only 10 calories to kickstart your diet this summer!”

Okay, I get it, none of these are particularly compelling.  In fact, he got a little worked up about them.  Upset.

And, as a result, he claimed the whole of online advertising as broken.

What should businesses do instead?

Well, he recommended creating a viral video.  (A gamble, at best.)  Or an infographic.  (Again, hoping for virality and social shares.)  And then he went on to cite Apple product placement in movies as the pinnacle of the type of advertising “his generation” wants to see.

In short, because this guy sees a few ads he doesn’t like and that don’t resonate with him, he decides that the only good advertising is advertising that doesn’t look like advertising.

And, I get it.

At least, the first part.

There’s an overabundance of loud, annoying, untargeted, and largely uninteresting ads that plague nearly every page of the internet.

And that sucks, I agree!

If there weren’t, the rise of “Ad Blocker” software wouldn’t be so pronounced in recent years, and it wouldn’t be something scaring advertisers half to death right now.

But here’s the thing.

The problem isn’t that classic forms of advertising and techniques don’t work on the internet — that somehow this medium is different than all the other media that have come before, where these approaches worked.

The problem is that ALL of today’s consumers have been over-exposed to untargeted, irrelevant, and totally crap-tastic ads!

And here’s where we reveal the liar in us all!

When this young man, like many of us, gets annoyed by yet another crap ad, poorly targeted at him despite not having much interest…

Well, he understandably is hesitant to respond.

In fact, each one he finds mildly annoying.

And the more he pays attention, the more his annoyance builds and builds.

That’s when the lying starts.

He starts to lie to himself about advertising.  He says he doesn’t respond to it.  He says that style of advertising doesn’t work on him.

And then, because he’s in the advertising industry and he has to justify his existence, he starts looking for forms of advertising that he thinks he likes.

But what he totally ignores — and lies to himself about — are all the ads that he did click on, that followed the exact same approach as the ones he claims to hate!

Further, he lies to himself by claiming that the ads he likes are the same ones that drive his purchasing behavior.  Do some of them influence his buying decisions?  Maybe.  But it’s ads for products he liked anyway, that he was likely to buy anyway.  So when someone gets the targeting and the offer right, the ad creative doesn’t have to be compelling for it to work.

And besides, him citing Apple as an example is ignorant of the fact that they are a multi-billion dollar global company that’s able to waste vast sums on advertising expenses to “build their brand” that have no measurable payoff and that would break a smaller business trying to follow in their footsteps.

Wild guess, but this guy likely clicks on at least 5 ads per day that are substantively the same as the ones he criticizes and claim don’t work on him…

For example…

I browse a few sites looking for well-targeted ads…

I visited GoDaddy recently, and so I’m getting ads to “Snag your .com domain with GoDaddy.”  Now, I actually use a different registrar, but that’s a great example of not-that-great creative that’s so-well targeted I might click.

I’m on a financial news site that swings far to the Austrian Economics school, where gold and silver are considered better currencies than the ones we use today.  I’m not in the market for any metals right now, but “Silver Eagles, Lowest Prices Online, Free Shipping” is a pretty targeted ad there.

Hulu is advertising to me — a customer — with a “One Month Free, No Commercials,” ad promoting their new higher-tier membership.

All of these are relatively benign ads, following roughly the same format as the ones this young man was criticizing, and that are likely working pretty well right now (two of three I’ve seen a LOT).

But here’s the thing.

They’re not that good of ads.  But they’re targeted.  And so in the right context, with the right mindset, I’m likely to click on them…  Without even thinking about it!

Yet if you ask me 24 hours later, I would likely say I didn’t click on the ad.  I must have gotten to the site some other way.  Because those ads wouldn’t work on me.

At least, if I’m your average consumer, that’s what I’m going to say.

And sure, I’m going to tell you that what I’d really like to see are ineffective ads that don’t offend my higher sensibilities — OR get me to respond!

So…  If you can’t trust consumers to tell you what they’ll respond to, how do you find out?

Two things…

  1. Follow the best practices of “mail order marketers.” This was Claude Hopkins’ recommendation, almost a century ago. And it still stands.  Except today most folks don’t call themselves mail order marketers — but direct marketers.  Follow people who measure their results, test, and track, and establish best practices.
  2. Test variations on those rules for yourself. Want to test something different, edgy, innovative, or that simply doesn’t follow the best practices of direct marketing? Fine!  Go for it.  But test it against a “safer” version that does follow best practices — no matter what your customers say they’ll respond to.  Measure what they actually respond to because their mouths may lie, but their dollars don’t.

There are other things you can do to further your chances of success, but these two should be at the very core of your approach.  And certainly NOT listening to your customers about what they SAY they like and will respond to.  Because they’re most likely lying to themselves!

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets