The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets.
In Your Fast Start Guide, I discussed the first and last job I had before going out on my own as an in-demand marketing consultant.
I explained how I started in the marketing department — first a grunt, then within months practically running the place. And how once I discovered the ceiling on my income in marketing, I moved to sales.
The topic of this chapter is, without doubt, the primary reason I was able to generate extraordinary results so quickly in both of those roles.
And if you want improve the profitability of both your marketing and sales functions within your business, it’s time to pay close attention.
Let’s answer one of the most fundamental questions in business…
What is the role of marketing and advertising within your business?
First, a story. Chicago. Turn of the century. Nope, the one before that — we’re talking May 1904. At the offices of the Lord & Thomas advertising agency.
A young Albert Lasker, a clerk at Lord & Thomas, is sitting in the office of the Co-Founder and Director of the agency, Ambrose Lord. A messenger brings in a note. It reads…
Dear Mr. Thomas, I am in the saloon downstairs and I can tell you what advertising is. I know that you don’t know. It will mean much to me to have you know what it is and it will mean much to you. If you wish to know what advertising is, send the word ‘yes’ down by the messenger. — John E. Kennedy
Mr. Thomas isn’t interested. This Kennedy guy has got to be a nut case, pulling a stunt like that. Doesn’t he know that Lord & Thomas is already one of the world’s premiere ad agencies?
But what Thomas didn’t know — nor Kennedy — was that Lasker had been searching for the answer to this question for seven years. Lasker convinced Thomas to let him at least meet with Kennedy — and ensured he’d be dismissed immediately if he was indeed a nut case. He invited Kennedy up.
Kennedy started the meeting by asking Lasker to define advertising.
“Advertising is news. News about your product or service.” Lasker explained to Kennedy.
Kennedy acknowledged news can be a powerful technique in your advertising. But it doesn’t stand as a definition of good, effective advertising.
(I encourage you — before you read any further — to define advertising for yourself. If it’s not news about your product or service, what is it? Is it building your image, your brand? Is it entertainment? What is advertising? What makes a good advertisement?)
They continued. Lasker would give a new definition. Kennedy would shoot it down. After a few minutes back-and-forth, Lasker’s curiosity was getting the better of him. He pushed Kennedy to reveal his secret.
And so, there in the offices of Lord & Thomas, John E. Kennedy revealed what is still the most powerful definition of advertising. He said, “Advertising is salesmanship in print. An ad should say in print, precisely what a good salesman would say face to face. Instead of general claims, pretty pictures, or clever slogans, an ad should offer a concrete ‘reason why’ the product is worth buying.”
“An ad should not be charming, amusing, or even necessarily pleasing to the eye — a good ad should be a rational, unadorned instrument of selling.”
Kennedy had Lasker hooked. He was confident. Charismatic. And brought a definition for advertising as good as Lasker had ever heard.
Kennedy went on, “True ‘reason why’ copy is logic, plus persuasion and conviction, all woven into a certain simplicity of thought — pre-digested for the average mind, so it’s easier to understand than misunderstand it.”
Lasker had never heard a definition of advertising so true and right — and clear — before. In this definition he had both a rulebook for creating good advertising, and a yardstick against which advertising could be measured.
Lasker convinced Lord & Thomas to hire Kennedy as chief copywriter the next day. Within a few years, Lasker owned the entire agency. Together — along with another critical figure in modern advertising whom you now know, Claude Hopkins — they went on to build the undisputed champion of the advertising business for their day.
Today we can modify Kennedy’s original definition of advertising to encompass the many types of media we have at our disposal, and simply say…
Advertising is sales multiplied.
This definition alone, much less their other accomplishments, certainly earned these three men — Lasker, Kennedy, and Hopkins — their recognition as the founders of modern advertising.
And it’s this definition that you should use today if you want to achieve maximum success with your advertising and marketing.
To borrow a quote from Chapter 2 of Scientific Advertising…
“Advertising is salesmanship. Its principles are the principles of salesmanship. Successes and failures in both lines are due to like causes. Thus every advertising question should be answered by the salesman’s standards.
“Let us emphasize that point. The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.”
The role of marketing and advertising in your business is to either supplement the sales process, or complete it.
If you are a consumer-oriented direct marketer, like many of my clients, your marketing makes your sales. Many of my clients do tens of millions of dollars in sales every year with zero sales staff. Because the marketing does all the selling.
If you are in retail, own a professional practice, have a service business, or sell business-to-business with a more complex sales cycle, your marketing may not do all your selling for you. You may still have a sales team, or do the selling yourself. However, done well, your marketing and advertising can do much of the selling for you. It can generate prospects. It can qualify leads. It can pre-sell your expertise. It can give the prospect buying criteria that help them choose you, even at a higher price. It can maintain the relationship, and bring past clients back. It can encourage referrals. And we’re just scratching the surface.
However, all of this starts with a clear definition of the role of advertising and marketing. It is sales multiplied. Trying to force your advertising to do any more or any less is superfluous, and likely to be a waste of time, energy, and resources.
Likewise, in making a marketing or advertising decision, you are best-served by asking yourself…
“What would a salesperson do?”
Before sitting down to create your marketing, think about how it fits within the overall sales process. What step in the sales process are you looking to accomplish with each individual piece of creative? If a prospect is a good fit for your product or service, what action will they take as a result of interacting with your marketing? And how will that bring them closer to doing business with you?
If you’re not thinking like a sales person, you might think it’s fun or funny to act out a clever skit in a video ad (for TV or the internet). After the punchline, you put your company’s name and website address on screen. You rely on the viewer enjoying the humor enough that they’re going to go to your website and engage with your company.
If you were a door-to-door salesperson, whose success was decided by whether or not your prospect slammed the door on you in the first half-second, would you rely on a skit to keep that door open?
When I sold newspaper subscriptions in college, standing at a kiosk in front of Walmart, sweltering sun beating down on me, I didn’t rely on clever games or skits to get the job done. I offered a sample. I engaged with a conversation about my product, and how the prospect liked it already (I benefited here from previous knowledge about my product). And I made an offer.
In selling the newspaper through marketing, I would think back to what led to the most success in face-to-face selling. How could I multiply that through whatever media I was using?
If your organization has a sales force in place, start there in creating your marketing. What is the most tedious part of the selling job? What do the most successful salespeople do to generate the best results with that task? How can you use media to automate that, multiplying your best salespeople, and freeing them up for higher-value, higher-leverage tasks that come at other points of the sales cycle (most often later)?
If necessary, follow Gary Halbert’s shortcut method to creating a great ad. Record your sales staff in their conversations with customers. When you capture them at “fever pitch,” transcribe them, and use that as the basis for your ad. It’s hard to go wrong here.
The point is that if you want your advertising and marketing to generate real business results, you have to approach it like selling multiplied. Use it to make your sales force’s job so easy, they practically only have to take the order. Use your best sales people as models and resources for what goes into your marketing and advertising. And always measure your success by sales results.
Have a great weekend!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets