How many ads have actually made you buy something? Hmmm… As a 9-year old, I was leafing through a Boys Life magazine and saw a print ad for a real live squirrel monkey–for only $ 19.95. I wanted the monkey so badly that I convinced all of my friends to front me $ 3 each for the future opportunity to see the monkey at any time. I also risked the ire of my parents when they discovered by new friend “Zip.” That was one powerful ad. But why?
How many ads have actually made you buy something? Think about it. I’ll bet that once you mull this question a bit, like most people, you’ll think of no more than two or three examples–at best. Is advertising really that ineffective ? Of course, I thought of Zip the Monkey. Beyond an ad which excited my sense of boyhood daring and adventure, what other brands have caused me to buy ?
Well, Advil PM for one. I saw the ad recently, sitting on the sofa, partially jet-lagged from another cross-Atlantic business trip. It was simple, comparative, and to the point: with Advil PM’s time release formula, you can sleep through the night. No waking up like the other major competitor. I travel extensively and spend a lot of time in Europe. In Europe, six hours ahead of the U.S., I would take the competitive product before going to bed — only to wake up in the middle of the night–wide awake. Hours later, I was at work, even more exhausted than usual and dreaming of a long nap. It sounds trite in print, except that this was EXACTLY my issue. Said differently, I was the perfect target and the RIGHT TIMING accentuated and personalized the message. Upon seeing the ad, I thought: “That’s me–I have to try that.” And I did.
Advertising research tells us that persuasion and other factors are critical to advertising effectiveness. But communicating a benefit persuasively and convincingly is also a function of making an important benefit relevant. And relevance is about solving personal problems or issues and communicating this at the RIGHT TIME. Establishing the right target is foundational. Communicating the right message ensures relevance. Using the correct media gets your product or service message to the right person. RIGHT TIMING deepens the ad relevance and personalizes the communication. Of course, this is one of the reasons search marketing has proved so enormously successful–it matchs the “intention” of the searcher and increases RIGHT TIMING. John Battelle wrote about this intention phenomenon in his excellent 4 1/2 star book, “The Search.”
There is huge opportunity for marketing communications to improve RIGHT TIMING. The advent of digital marketing, social media, search, improved media buying and other forms of marketing analytics will increasingly enable marketers to drive RIGHT TIMING and open up a vast frontier of marketing effectiveness improvements.
It’s been a long time since I sent in my $ 19.95 to get my very own squirrel monkey. To be honest, I can’t recall the specifics of the ad. But something tells me that there was an issue involved–like the humiliation I felt the day before at school when my green rock was overshadowed by some really cool shark teeth. Perhaps it had something to do with me badly wanting to be the king of “show and tell.” While everyone else had rocks, dolls and shark teeth to show, I had a real live example of effective RIGHT TIME advertising: Zip the Monkey.
Randall Beard is a senior Marketing and Product Management executive with over 25 years of global experience across consumer packaged goods, financial services and high-touch service brands, including Procter & Gamble, American Express, and UBS Wealth Management.
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