If you have a great message and no one hears it, does it make a sound?
As a children’s writer still searching for that first publishing deal, I know what it’s like to write and write and write and wonder if anyone knows or cares.
This blog is helpful in making known my name, abilities, and style…but still, if I only posted once every couple of weeks, it would not be as effective. I wouldn’t have the number of people, like you, visiting, reading, commenting, and sharing. Conversely, if I was to post more than twice a week, my blog could, perhaps, gain more followers, acquire more voiceover or copy writing clients, and pique the interest of an agent or publisher.
I mention this to make a point. No matter what type of promoting you’re doing – marketing a book, promoting your blog, advertising a business – what you say is only important if other people read it. And the only way others will read it is if they know it’s been written.
I know, I know…this is all pretty self-explanatory. But let me explain where I’m going with this…
The necessity of advertising
Many of the folks with whom I correspond hate the idea of advertising. They know it exists and they know I make a pseudo-living out of it, but they feel like advertising is a 4-letter word. That it’s somehow subversive, mind-altering brainwashing that I’m involved in. They hate Facebook ads and Google ads and TV & radio commercials and billboards – and act like they’re above it all because they don’t fall for any of corporate America’s ploys.
They’re too cool to be influenced or swayed by a message provoking them to turn over their money.
They don’t realize how ubiquitous advertising is, nor how effective it is, even on people like themselves.
No matter who you are, advertising affects you. We wake up in advertised beds, brush our teeth with advertised toothpaste, drink advertised coffee or tea before we leave our house or apartment (which was advertised before you bought it), and head off to work wearing advertised clothes while driving advertised cars, advertised bicycles, or walking on advertised shoes.
Nearly everything we own in our lives has been advertised, and we choose one product over another because of the benefit(s) we perceive from that product.
(Keep in mind, also, that advertising doesn’t necessarily involve money. Jesus advertised everlasting life, and never asked for a penny.)
Psychological egoism and why we’re all looking out for #1
Psychological egoism is a richly debated theory that states that every voluntary action one undertakes is done for that individual’s self-gratification. In other words, everything that each of us does is done for our own self-interests (you can learn more about the specifics of this doctrine here).
Why do we buy a red car instead of a blue? Because we like red more. Why do we choose the steak over the haddock filet? Because we like steak more.
Why buy Colgate instead of Crest? Because of the perceived benefit of using Colgate.
Of course, some folks will argue that selfless acts of kindness or sacrifice negate this theory; however, one can argue that engaging in a selfless act of kindness is also done for one’s own gratification. For example, if I have $100, I could pay some bills, donate it to a local food shelter, or go to a strip club for a few hours. The choice I make ultimately depends on which option brings me the most satisfaction or happiness.
And chances are, I’d be paying bills for products or services that were advertised, donating money to a food shelter that had been advertised (perhaps via a news article or Public Service Announcement), or going to a strip club that was advertised.
Now, about that message…
It’s not what you said, it’s how (often) you said it
Getting back to my initial thoughts, what if you had a great message and no one knew? You could create the world’s greatest widget and develop a unique, effective commercial ad campaign…but if no one hears or sees it, you might as well not have bothered, right? That is where frequency comes into play.
In radio and TV, the more often you air your commercial, the better – because the more people will see or hear it. Run one commercial a day on radio and a few solid potential customers might take notice, but run it several times throughout the day – at various times in the morning, midday, afternoon, and evening – and then you’re really connecting with lots of potential customers.
But that many commercials costs a lot of money, right? Well, let me give you a real-life example of how running on a low budget doesn’t mean you can’t attract big-budget numbers of people.
Many years ago, when I was working in Vermont as a radio producer, our sales manager met a restaurant owner who wanted to advertise but didn’t think he could afford 4 or 5 spots (commercials) every day. So we suggested doing something unusual: we would run 10 spots one day a week – Friday. While this wouldn’t give him the weekly exposure of a more expensive schedule, he would pretty much own the airwaves that one day, with his commercial airing almost every hour all day long.
Within just a few weeks, he told our manager that customers were telling him they not only heard about his restaurant on our radio station, but they were telling him they were hearing him all the time!
“I’m always hearing your commercials!” one person told him.
“I hear you every day!” said another.
In the battle of perception versus reality…perception won, again.
Get your message out there!
Are you selling cars, furniture, or fertilizer? Are you selling yourself, your abilities, your experience? Whatever it is – whether you realize you’re selling something or not – spend some time determining the best way to promote your message. If you’re a business, a writer, a job seeker…you have to let people know you’re there!
And if you’re the type who doesn’t like promotion, advertising, or marketing…enjoy your obscurity! You might think your message is awesome, but it’s only awesome if someone hears it.
Your product might change the world, but only if the world knows about it.
I’m obviously happy to talk to anyone who has questions about advertising and copy writing and that sort of thing…if you have questions about creating a commercial or getting voice work (like on-hold messaging or video narration) done for your business, feel free to contact me at matt(at)mattforrest(dot)com!