How Long Is The Race?
How long do you plan to be in business? Are you going for the
hundred-meter dash, or would you like to be in the lead at the end of the marathon? Oh, really? Then why do you
advertise as though this weekend were the last time your customers will ever have the opportunity to buy from
Short-term advertising-the sprint-is a race for fools. As a marketing strategy,
it’s self-defeating to train your customers to sit on the sidelines waiting for your next "Moonlight Madness Sale."
You should be conditioning them to think of you automatically whenever they need what you’re selling.
Here are the runners:
1) Newspaper is a sprinter, an information-delivery vehicle that reaches only
those buyers who are in the market for the product right now. Though the advertiser pays to reach all
readers, the only people who will see a newspaper ad are those who are looking specifically for what’s being
advertised. You’ll see immediate results from your newspaper ads- but you’ll have escaped the attention of those
who are not consciously in the market for your product or service.
2) The Yellow Pages are like the weekend jogger, thudding along with no
particular goal in mind. They’re a service directory for shoppers who have no preference; when people don’t know
who to call, they pull out the Yellow Pages. As an advertiser, do you really want to take your chances as a face in
the Yellow Pages crowd? The highest goal of advertising is to convince the customer of your worth long before he
needs what you sell.
3) Sound-intrusive, irresistible sound-makes electronic media the long-distance
runner of advertising. Broadcast wins the hearts of customers before they’re in the market for your product.
If your goal is to be the first into the mind of your consumer when he needs what you have to sell, and to be the
company he feels best about, you should invest in the intrusive nature of sound with the reliability of echoic
I’m always fascinated by people who say, "I tried advertising in electronic
media, and it didn’t work for me." Invariably, their tests were conducted according to rules that highly favored
newspaper. They were looking for a quick payoff, and newspaper is definitely the best sprinter: you get what you
get immediately, but it doesn’t get better and better. Radio is a marathon runner-the longer you continue, the
better it works. They’re a better investment in the long run than newspaper or Yellow Pages.
If you want to gamble on who’s going to be in the lead at the end of thirty
days, put your money on newspaper to win. But if the race is scheduled to run longer than six months, mortgage the
house to buy radio. It’s only in the longer races that marathon runners show us what they’ve got.
Excerpted from "The Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads" by Roy Williams