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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 you?

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 retention.

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


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