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All I asked was, “How much is it going to cost?”

Tony Glassman,
G-Force Collaborations
tony@g-forceusa.com

People are always asking, “How much do I budget for an effective advertising campaign?” Simple question, right? Perhaps, yet there is no good answer, only guesses, speculation and war stories that don’t adequately deal with the two parts that make up the equation: (1) The message (what you say) and (2) the deployment (what, where, when, and how often you present it).

Trouble is, neither aspect is measurable. Yet everybody is either asking the question or more alarmingly, giving an answer. What answer?! It’s apples and oranges with a mango thrown in for good measure. You say, “But it’s not rocket science”. You’re right. It’s beyond that, because you cannot quantify outlets, the ratios and the dollar amounts to achieve a specific sales increase. Moreover, and more mercurial is, “the message”.

Who can predict the impact of your idea - save the great and powerful Oz? For a myriad of reasons, what you say and how you say it is, at least, half the equation. And the other half, that is more scientific/logical on the surface, is not as black and white as many would have you believe. Let’s go with the easy (well, easier) half of the equation first.

Decades ago David Oglivy, the creative mastermind behind the powerhouse ad agency, Oglivy & Mather said, “Anyone who can come up with a formula for the relationship between ‘reach’ and ‘frequency’ in the purchase of media will become rich.” It is not scientific, as in precise or knowable.

Do you buy that Super Bowl spot and ravage your budget or do you buy those late night spots and plaster the airwaves? Something in between, you say? Well, sure. But what? How much goes where...and when? This week’s episode of Law & Order is about pedophilia. Will my ads be associated in some strange way? Are auto ads on Soaps as effective as home furnishing ads? Will Lexus ads do better than Ford on the Olympics? Is Friday better to advertise on than Monday? What if the spot is 25% higher for fixed placement? How many times does someone need to see or read (and what combination do I need to run my ad to be effective)? Sometimes once. Sometimes forever is not enough. But for argument sake, let’s say you’re somewhere in between earth-shattering and hopeless.

The second part of the equation, how will you present it - "package" it, is a complex parcel of communications cogs that fit like legos where voice, music, film, video, still, everything does go together. However, few things really fit, i.e. work!. If yours is to, then how will you say it, cast it, direct it, score it, edit it, and okay “package” it? All the pieces need to be working, all the cylinders firing. One weak link and the chain that connects you to greatness, disintegrates. How are you to know what is going to make it and what is destined for media mediocrity.

I suppose I think I can help pull all the elements together. But then, a lot of people think they can. It’s kind of like watching an elixir salesmen moving through those old west towns. Today, they’d be making statements like: “You need to have this budget; Buy this radio station; Place your TV spots on these shows; Tell people this message; and you’ll hit the mother load.“

Truth is, create an honest, searing message that moves people. Place it where you can find your (potentially) receptive market and give it some time to sink in. For when you get behind the curtain, you’ll find there is no great and powerful purveyor of advertising budgets, no unassailable dollar figure that stands as the answer and no creative team that waves a wand and your message instantly arcs across the sky like a rainbow. Sure, there are metrics, but still nothing close to a cure for the question that ails you.

Deep down, you knew all along, it is good judgment, prudent persistence, and a stirring concept, well written and produced with equal skill that wins the day. Of course, you wanted it to be scientific. But it’s not.

Sadly, the road mostly traveled, echoes the bland, predictable, in-one-ear-out-the-other message that can only work as a result of “repetition, repetition, repetition.” But this is nothing more than the false belief in the “scientific side” that calls for more money...lots more money, to ram (and, therefore, bore to tears) the point home. It is the end game of an unfulfilling, expensive process that your ad people will somehow call, “Genius!” But one glance from an honest friend and you’ll know that you could do better.

The moral: There are some great creative people and sharp, experienced media buyers who have success stories they would like to repeat. Trust you’ll know those who can from the many who masquerade. And when you find those unique qualities, keep the committees, the office testers out of the mix. Everyone’s buy-in is some middle manager’s perverse brain backwash. Speilberg doesn’t ask for a vote to see how he wants his next scene to unfold and John Williams doesn’t ask his first violin what time signature to use for one of his incredible musical scores. No Spielbergs or Williams around, maybe not. But there are very capable people who have the experience, the intuition, and the vision to deliver an effective message and presentation to the media folks for educated placement. That educated placement coupled with the effective message and presentation won’t cost you money, it will make you money.

You just have to know brilliant…from b-o-r-I-n-g. If you do, you’ll be across midfield running with a great campaign heading for pay dirt. If you don’t, you’ll be scrambling like hell just to avoid a safety.

 


Tony Glassman has written and produced campaigns for The United Way, Upstate Farms, Woodcliff, Supreme Court Judges, Monroe County Executive, Bison Dip, Technical Learning Center, The Cambridge Group, TDK Tape, etc. While he has won awards and made his clients money, his best work is yet to come.

Email: tony@g-forceusa.com
Company Profile: G-Force Collaborations
Company URL: http://www.g-forceusa.com

 

 

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