What's All the Shouting About?
A few weeks ago, Sara Beckwith, the media director at Villing & Company, wrote a great piece about sport fishing as a metaphor for advertising media strategies. I’d like to briefly continue that analogy. One of the first things fishermen tell their kids is the importance of not scaring away the fish by talking too loud or making too much noise. A lot of local advertisers would do well to heed that advice.
Experts in fields from relationship psychology to branding tell us that people prefer to do business with people they know, trust and, on a certain level, consider someone with whom they could be friends. In short, we do business with people we like. I don’t know about you, but I don’t much care for people who shout at me.
So why do so many advertisers, especially retailers and extra especially car dealers, feel they need to be boorish and loud to get our attention? I believe it comes down to two or three fundamental issues.
First, it’s a competitive world out there. All of us know this and most of us experience it in one way or another. So taking steps to have one’s message stand apart from the competition is a natural and appropriate response. Unfortunately, if one’s competitors are employing the same tactics, any perceived advantage is lost.
The flip side of this competitive coin is that since everyone has always done things this way, it must be right. When I asked a local car dealer one time about the industry’s pre-occupation with theatrics, he responded that “car dealerships are the last circus”. Well, it seems to me the circus business isn’t too healthy these days and neither is much of the domestic automobile business. (OK, Cirque de Soleil is an exception, but they are the exception that proves the rule because they have a very untraditional product.)
The only other motivation for this type of behavior is ego. I’ve always said that modesty is not necessarily a virtue in marketing. However, there’s a difference between a strategic decision to capitalize on a compelling or interesting personality as spokesperson and the desire to have one’s friends say they saw you on TV. The Lee Iococa’s of the world are few and far between.
I realize that these opinions are not exactly new. Consumers have been complaining about loud and obnoxious retail advertising for as long as there has been retail advertising.
I rest my case.
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