What Consumers Want … But Are Not Getting

HAVE YOU EVER driven through the country, perhaps in the spring, and just enjoyed the beauty of blooming flowers outside your window – or have you have ever taken a train along the coast and been caught up in the beauty of the ragged cliffs and violent ocean water – and suddenly had that entire natural splendor wiped from your view by a giant, tattered billboard covered with advertising nonsense?

Billboard Ad

Creative Commons via Raunet

Instances like this happen all the time: You’ll be watching your favorite TV show, only to have it interrupted every five minutes by a slew of companies trying to sell you various products you don’t need, much less even want.

Or you’ll be listening to your favorite song on the radio, when a loud sales-y voice cuts in on that last verse. In this day and age, a bombardment of insincere advertisements is nothing new—we have learned to tune them out or turn them off without a second’s thought.

But SOMETIMES there will be a sincere advertisement, something like Dodge Ram’s ingenious, “God Made a Farmer,” (http://bit.ly/Vy33Lf), or Mac Book’s Ultra-Thin magazine ad.

But these awesome, true advertisements are getting lost in all the “junk” that is being thrown at consumers, and oftentimes, it’s only by chance that the honest ads make it to a consumer’s eyes or ears. Which is sad:

Why do we have to hope that honesty is sifted out of all the lies, when it should be the other way around?

no_trustNo Trust

Advertisements today are getting a very bad rap, with words like “intrusion,” “patronizing,” “irrelevant” and “rubbish” being associated with most marketing campaigns.

This, if you ask me, is disheartening. A lot of money and time, not to mention creativity, go into this artwork, but it’s not translating in a way that reaches the consumer.

Why? Because people don’t trust them.

A survey of 500 people by Steve Olenski, one of Social Technology Review’s Top 100 Influences in Social Media (#41, to be exact), found these cues to the current state of advertising affairs:

  • 76% of people surveyed said ads were either “very exaggerated” or “somewhat exaggerated”
  • 87% think half of cleaning ads are photoshopped (I’m on board with them)
  • 96% think that half or more weight loss ads are photoshopped
  • 80% think that shampoo ads are exaggerated.

Another report titled,Your Brand: At Risk or Ready for Growth? sponsored by the marketing solutions company, Alterian, found that close to 100% of consumers don’t trust advertisements.

Of the people surveyed, more than half (58%) agreed with the statement, “Companies are only interested in selling products and services to me, not the product or service that is right for me.”

Ah, and therein lies the problem—well, a large part of the problem, anyway.

If you take a look at advertisements today, they sell to a very specific prototype – and I call it a prototype because the “person” they’re selling to isn’t, well, real.

Think of all those Garnier girls, for example.The moment they step out of the shower, their hair is already dry (but let’s overlook that detail for arguments sake), straight, thick, shiny, and flowing. 

How many people do you know who can step out of the shower and have hair like that?

None. It’s impossible.

It takes a lot of work to have hair like that – and for most women, even with a lot of work, hair like that just isn’t going to happen!

Consumers know this, because consumers are real people. So when people like you and I see shampoo commercials that are trying to sell this very fake end result, we’re not buying it—the ad or the product.

This same situation can be said for guys as well. Channel’s recent cologne ad for men portrays the idea that if you wear Channel #5, you will find your fate – your purpose – oh, yeah, and you will be as thoughtfully sexy as Brad Pitt.

But, watch this ad, and tell me you can’t hear the falseness of it… Not Brad’s finest moment! http://bit.ly/Rxa4dg.

These are just a few of the more obvious examples of dishonest advertisements, but you get where I’m going with this: People know when ads are fake, and they’re not having it anymore.

Here’s a little more data from Steve Olenski’s study:

  • A whopping 38% wish ads were more honest
  • 32% know what ads are “trying to do”
  • 17% wish there were laws to regulate ads
  • 8% just enjoy them
  • 5% ignore ads altogether

What ads … and the selling process … should do

32% of people surveyed said they know what ads are trying to do, but that doesn’t make the ads good.

A great ad shouldn’t be transparent, or get an “A” for effort – it should be simple, direct, honest—consumers shouldn’t be able to see through it, because there should be nothing the ad is trying to hide.

This same survey revealed that one of the top three reasons people bought a product was because they had a reaction to the ad – meaning, they laughed, they cried, they shared it or talked about it.

When asked what an ad should do to elicit these emotions, the top three answers were:

  1. Make me aware of a new product
  2. Educate me
  3. Relate to me.

Ads that people related to, or had a reaction to, were more or less the following:

  • 71% funny (Of those 71%, 56% were women)
  • 12% educational
  • 8% sexy (91% of the 8% were men)
  • 4% serious
  • 3% patriotic

Do this instead…

We established earlier that bombarding potential customers with giant billboards that mar the scenery, TV adverts that interrupt a great story and radio ads that jar us out of a great melody are not the ways in which to get a target’s attention.

So, what do you do?

According to Alterian’s report, people who use social media are more likely to have a positive response to ads than those that don’t, and a greater percentage of respondents thought that companies who used social media were “genuinely interested in them.”

This is because social media is a platform that allows companies to engage with their customers, and to get a real sense of who their followers are.

That’s not to say that marketing through social media is automatically more sincere, but in the consumer’s eye, it’s a step in the right direction.

That being said, I don’t want you to automatically assume that social media marketing is the be-all and end-all – it isn’t the “cure” to advertising’s downfall, or an excuse for messy marketing.

Advertising through other mediums work just as well – but only the sincere ads. The same goes on social media networks.

It’s the credibility of a message that consumer’s want and what they’ll respond to, not the way in which you deliver the message.

Consumers are becoming more and more cynical – they question what they’re told – they want answers when something isn’t right – they want the truth.

It is your job as a business person and entrepreneur to give them that truth.

Stop selling what you think they want – pay attention, and give them what you know they need: HONESTY.


·        http://www.research-live.com/features/do-you-want-the-good-news-or-the-bad-news?/4006957.article

·        http://socialmediatoday.com/steve-olenski/1258591/just-lot-people-dont-trust-advertising

·        http://blog.kajabi.com/post/42444965559/what-your-visitors-think-of-ads

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