Marketing’s Three Big Delusions

Posted on Dec 17, 2010

Delusion #1. Your audience will sit still.

Sermons ain’t what they used to be.

Many a 19th Century novelist would button up a story by marching all of the characters into church, where the preacher would deliver the moralistic uplift the author wanted these misbegotten souls to hear.

The audience for your brand story today, by extreme contrast, won’t gather in one place, won’t study your message, and will be too busy texting to be uplifted. You have mere seconds to grab your “short attention spaniels.” See our scary graph on the subject.

Delusion #2. ITIBTDLI.

Every mediocre teacher falls back on this lame excuse: “I Taught It But They Didn’t Learn It.”

Most brand messaging is driven by this delusion, too. No matter how often or how loudly you repeat it, your claim (e.g., “We’re tops in customer service!”) will fall on deaf ears because it’s not a likable message, or a credible message, or an unexpected message. Check out local TV spots for most retailers, and you get the Triple Whammy (unlikable, incredible, expected) which means the advertiser is setting fire to money.

Delusion #3. From the CEO’s lips to nobody’s ear.

Strongly related to the first two delusions, of course. The CEO wants his brand to stand for, let’s say, Quality. Oh, and Service. Oh, and Price. Well, the old-school salesmanship that results is doomed by Delusions 1 & 2 right out of the gate – but there’s also a third delusional element at work: the naive faith that the audience is rational. It ain’t. Brand preferences are rooted in emotion, not logic.

There will be more about this in our next blog post, but for now, what current advertising campaigns that you see seem most delusional?

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