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/ Advertising / The purpose of advertising

The purpose of advertising

Originally published in my National Marketing Examiner column February 7, 2012

As I was pondering what to write about today, I was snacking on my lunch on the deck while thumbing through a recent issue of “Mountain House & Home” magazine. I decided to check out the advertisements in the issue and see if a topic would hit me over the head. As I suspected, it didn’t take long before an angle hit me: the purpose of advertising.

One of my clients includes the following quote from a pioneer in advertising, Claude C. Hopkins author of Scientific Advertising, in his email signature:

“The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.”

I don’t think it’s that simple. It’s not that it’s a simple way of considering the purpose of advertising rather the purpose of advertising is layered. I hate to use the over-used peeling-of-the-onion analogy, but it is similar to it.

In general, I agree with Mr. Hopkins. The overall purpose of advertising is to grow your business. After all, why advertise if you aren’t interested in growing your business and making more money? On the other hand, not all objectives of advertisements are to grow your business. For example, some advertisements are created and placed to improve the company’s image in the public and/or target market’s eyes. In this situation, there are no metrics associated with the ad that are tied to revenue. The purpose of image advertising is simply creating and fostering a good image for the company. This type of advertising, one could easily argue, in the long run does help to increase sales. So, we’re back to what Claude Hopkins had to say back in the early 20th Century that the purpose of advertising is to make sales.

Using metrics to analyze advertising effectiveness

In the example shown here, Nest, a furniture consignment shop in Avon, CO, prepared an ad that is focusing on increasing sales. As an added incentive, the ad includes a coupon for a 10% discount. The use of the coupon has multiple purposes. First, the coupon entices readers to come to the store to save money (while spending money, thus increasing sales). A second purpose of the coupon is to gauge how effective the use of the coupon was for an ad in the publication. Third, if the store tracks the usage of the coupon correctly, the store can pull a report to see how many sales (quantity and dollar amount) the ad in the publication generated for them. This final bit of information can then be used as a barometer to see the effectiveness of advertising in that publication. Of course, that opens up other variables like the time of the year, the economy, the quality of the consignment furniture at the time the shopper visits, etc.

The next time you pick up a magazine, make a point of reviewing all the ads and ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this ad?” This will create awareness and the next time you’re creating an ad, you can use this knowledge to build a strong foundation for your ad.

For more information about Scientific Advertising, visit Amazon or your favorite book store.

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