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Law Of Selling


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1-5 The law of selling

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Law Of Selling

  1. 1. The Law of SellingBy David TrottCan anyone remember the purpose of Of course we didn’t design to do anything soadvertising: why we get paid to do what we do? crude as telling consumers what the product was, or why they should buy it. So guess what,Are we TV sitcom writers: is it to make people they didn‘t.laugh? Are we gag writers for observationalcomedians: putting our finger on telling truths? The dotcom boom was the time people started to believe you just had to ‘build brand’, not sellAre we prose stylists, delivering beautifully written product. When the dotcoms disappeared, thepassages of literature? non-advertising industry built up on their backs stayed around. Teaching a new generation ofI’d like to suggest a terribly old—fashioned view marketing trainees that the ‘S’ word is dinosaurof the fundamental, purpose of what we do, that thinking.I know will get me laughed out of every trendymedia bar and restaurant in Soho. What really clever people do is ‘brand building’. Brand diamonds, brand keys, brand doughnuts,lt’s the ‘S’ word (gasp). (“What ? You mean brand personality, brand profile, brand signature,talking people into buying things, like a shop brand architecture, brand onion, brand halo. Sayassistant? Man, where did you goto university?”) the word ‘brand’ often enough and everything willYes, I know we don’t do anything as crass as that be okay.anymore. Now, I’m not saying that ‘building the brand’Nowadays we‘re much more sophisticated: we isn’t ever the answer. What I am saying is, it isn’t‘Build Brands’.We don’t look at the sales figures, always the answer. But it’s become a simplewe look at the tracking scores. knee-jerk solution to avoid the discomfort of thinking about the ‘S’ word. lt has become aNever mind if anyone’s buying it, have we won an religion. And the purpose of all religions is toIPA Effectiveness Award, or a D&AD pencil? We avoid thinking. To keep you in a state of beliefdon’t sell products to consumers anymore.Now and superstition. Which is what ‘brand’ haswe sell OUR product: advertising. become, the advertising superstition. Like touching wood.And we sell it to our clients and peers: in Soho,Cannes, or Lurzer’s Archive. Of course there are great brands which can charge a premium for any product with theirNot only hasn’t the Emperor got any clothes, name attached. But (and, like anything thatnone of the rest of us have either. I thought we’d questions religion, this is going to sound likereached the zenith (your zenith is my nadir) of this heresy) before they were great brands they weretype of non-advertising during the dotcom boom. great products.When computer nerds with fistfuls of cashwandered into agencies and said ‘Make How the brands got built, was the advertisingsomething we like, man.’....So we did. sold products in an appropriate way. (The ‘brand building’ is the part that’s underlined.)Great pieces of film that all the new media typesloved. They couldn’t sell the brand, because the brand 1
  2. 2. Step Change Marketingdidn’t exist. All that existed was the product, and there?the name. So they sold that in an appropriate I’d like to suggest thinking for ourselves as anway. And a brand got built. Now, once a brand’s alternative to blind faith.built, you can sell the brand because it exists. Butbefore the product builds the brand you can‘t sell The problem, as we’ve seen with ‘brand’, is thatthe brand, because it doesn’t exist. we have a whole industry of people dedicated to making what we do as complicated as possible.And it’s silly to sell something that doesn’t exist, Dedicated to making it virtually impenetrable toisn’t it? So why are so many of us still doing any outsiders.something that’s silly? We need to demystify the process. We needWell, let’s lake a look at how religions work. The to give everyone access to it. So that the besttruly blessed are those who have faith, those who solution wins, not just the most complicated one.believe without questioning. We need a device so simple anyone can use it. That’s where what I call the Binary Brief comes in.But what if you’re a little confused about what a‘brand’ is, and how it works’? FIGURE 1Well, like any religion, we have priests to guideyou in the mysterious ways of ‘brand’. Specialistswho write articles about what ‘brand’ is, how‘brand’ works, ‘brand’ beliefs, even mistaken‘brand’ beliefs.We have seminars, conferences, and booksabout the different manifestations of ‘brand’.All agree on one thing, ‘brand’ is totally It’s called ‘binary‘ because all you do is choosemysterious to the mind of man, and ‘brand’ is all between two alternatives, like the zeros and onespowerful. The problem is, if you substitute belief of binary code. Like the binary code, it’s fast, andfor thinking, you believe your answer is always it’s unambiguous.right in every situation, no matter what. And, ofcourse, it isn’t. Which is why we have so much But the real value of the process is the rigidexpensive advertising failing all the time. discipline that you need to apply to the result.One problem with blindly following this route You must only choose ONE of each pair ofis that, handled lazily, many brand values are alternatives.the same within a particular market. (Howmany times have you seen the brand defined The questions are ranked in three levels. 1)as ‘modern, approachable, and honest’ on the What? 2) Who? 3) How?brief?) That’s it.So if all the brands in the market are sellingsimilar brand values, who wins? What does the advertising need to achieve? Should we grow the market, and (if we’re numberIt’s a no-brainer because, unless you change the one) take the major share of the increase?dynamics of the market, the market leader mustwin more from any market growth. Or should we go up against whoever’s bigger than us, and try to take share from them?So, given that there‘s usually only one brandleader in any market, pure brand advertising is Who should we target? Can we get our currentgoing to be wrong more often than it’s right. But users to buy more of our product, or buy it moreif ‘brand’ advertising isn’t infallible, what else is 2
  3. 3. Step Change Marketingoften? Or should we be looking to get people So the market grows, and number one takes thewho‘ve never tried it to switch to it? major share of that growth, thank you very much.How do we do it? Do we have a genuine USP?(A ‘perceived’ USP is fine, but the letter ‘S’ is FIGURE 3really important. It‘s all very well being unique,but does anyone want what we’re unique for?) Orshould we be selling the brand? If so, how? NOWis when vast army of ‘brand-builder’ specialistscan get involved. Because now we know whatwe’re doing, who we’re doing it to, and why.This all makes sense, right? In fact it’s so simpleit’s hardly worth bothering with. So how comeit took the marketing brains at Pepsi Cola half acentury to get to this clarity of thinking?In fact,just to illustrate how it works, let‘s hold the twoCola giants against the Binary brief.FIGURE 2 It took Pepsi many decades to wake up and realise that as long as they were selling cola values, they were just doing Coke’s advertising for them. They had to start talking people out of Coke and into Pepsi. FIGURE 4Coca Cola was obviously number one in theCola market. All they needed to do was sell Colavalues and they’d get the major share of anygrowth in the market. Pepsi looks at Cola, seesthey got successful and thinks we’ll do the samething. You see it in every market.Numbers two and three are so hypnotised bynumber one that they let them make the rules So how to do that? Well obviously they had tofor that market, and are scared to deviate. Brand be talking to people about why they should tryadvertising worked so well for number one, we’d Pepsi. They had to go for Triallists.better do the same thing, but with our nameon the end. And, because you’re in the samemarket, the brand values you are selling areusually the same brand values that number one isselling. 3
  4. 4. Step Change MarketingFIGURE 6 FIGURE 8 So they kept selling Cola values. The problemFair enough, but what message was going to get was everyone, everywhere had already triedCoke drinkers to change brands? Coke, so how do you increase sales? The answer was get existing customers to use more.Well, selling Pepsi according to cola values hadn’tworked.They needed something differentiating. FIGURE 9Why would anyone switch from Coke? They’dneed a reason.‘Pepsi tastes better’ is a good place to start, ifyou can back it up.They had research that could. So they went forUSP: take the Pepsi challenge. The aggressivenature of the advertising (selling the product in anappropriate way) became the Pepsi brand. Now So the message became: don’t just have a Cokethey have better advertising than they’ve ever on your own, have one with a friend, it’s muchhad, and none of it’s for Coke. So, according to nicer to share. I’d like to buy the world a Coke.the Binary brief, Pepsi went for: Brand Share, Finally, Coke virtually built the cola market, soTriallists, USP. it could just appropriate all the market values to itself. They must do brand advertising. So,They had to aggressively go for brand share. against the Binary brief, Coca Cola went for: Market Growth, Current Consumers, Brand.FIGURE 7 FIGURE 10Meanwhile Coke was more interested in growingthe market. They figured they could get much So that‘s how it works. You make three simplemore growth from increasing the overall size of choices and you have one of eight possiblethe market, than they could from worrying about advertising strategies. All your advertising istaking share from their smaller competitor. briefed according to those choices. All your advertising is judged against them. You can make the decision making process as complex and thorough as you want, you can take 4
  5. 5. Step Change Marketingdays arguing back and forth over each decision. I think we can stop being ashamed of what weBut at the end, you must have chosen only one do, and pretending we’re doing something else. Iof each of the alternatives. think the consumers have worked out what those little films between the programmes are for.That all sounds simple enough, right? Well it issimple. But it’s not easy. It`s very tough to make I think they know they’re adverts. They just don’tthose choices. And that’s the whole point. Most know: who, what, or people, clients and agency, live indenial. They want their advertising to include allof those alternatives. They don’t want to leaveanything out.They refuse to make those choices. So they getmade for them, by the consumer. Rememberthe old analogy of throwing six tennis balls at theconsumer, and they won’t catch any?Well that’s not quite true. Throw six tennis balls atthe consumer and they’ll probably catch one. Butthere‘s a five to one chance it won’t be the oneyou wanted them to catch.So make the decision up front, don’t trust itto luck. It you’re a creative, take a look at thebrief you’re working on, have they made thosechoices?If you’re a client, take a look at the advertisingyou’re being shown, is it clear from the ads whatthose choices are?Because it it isn’t clear to you, what possiblechance has the consumer got of working it out?That is, of course, assuming that we’re still doingadvertising for consumers. And not just as somevague ‘extension of the PR component of thebrand building exercise’. Understand, there’snothing wrong with ‘brand building’. When it’sappropriate.My problem is that, because it’s kept so vagueand ephemeral, it’s used to cover up an awful lotof lazy thinking.That’s why I think we need to demystify thewhole process. We don’t want ordinary thinkingand clever words. We want clever thinking andordinary words.That’s why it’s time to bring the ‘S’ word out ofthe closet. 5