“The boss said to change the sign – so I did”
So read a sign on Northwest Boulevard in Spokane – one of those signs with the individual plastic letters that have to be changed by hand. It seemed, at first glance, to be about the dumbest thing to put on a sign meant for public display; but it started me thinking. And, it made me remember that sign, and the garage and coffee stand that shared that particular parking area on the route from the outskirts into Downtown Spokane.
I actually remember seeing that same message before, on other signs at various locations through the years in this city of some 200,000. Four other times, if memory serves. And it’s not that the message was anything special – it wasn’t. It wasn’t even unique. But, it was surprising, unexpected. It falls securely into the category of “something you don’t see everyday.”
That’s what a good Marketing plan will do – it captures the attention and plants an idea in the mind, usually without the viewer even aware it’s happening. Take the example of recent commercials for Fanta. In them, we see a group of dancers arrayed in brightly-coloured dresses touting the multi-flavored drink. Afterward, we associate the colors on the cans with those girls – orange, and yellow, and red, and purple, and green … the color of orange flavor, grapefruit, strawberry, grape and lemon-lime. If the marketing has done its job, you taste the hint of grape whenever you see a purple dress.
Of course, they’re just ads, right? Well, actually, advertisement is just one part – and often an unnecessary part – of a good marketing plan. There’s much more to marketing than ads. Branding is equally important, and sometimes much more important. The special lettering used in the Coca-Cola brand is far more recognizable than any particular advertising campaign – even the 1970’s “Id Like To Buy The World A Coke” campaign. Many of us remember the song. But it’s only that logo that is exclusively tied to the product.
On the flip side, quality service and trust can often be more valuble than hundreds of ads. There’s a furniture store, for example, called “National Furniture” that has sat quietly in the same place on Spokane’s Division street for nearly a hundred years. Just within my lifetime, a dozen furniture stores have come into existence – huge, nationwide chains, often spending hundreds of thousands on advertising. And then, one by one, they die.
The trusted local guys continue on, and that is the power of marketing. Marketing doesn’t just make you want to buy a product, here…now…anywhere. Marketing makes you remember a product, or a brand, or a name…permanently. Once you’ve come to associate a certain idea with another–whatever the relationship–it’s very hard to break that connection; and that’s the function of marketing.
Here, for example, is a song that I will forever associate with a specific set of images. It’s called “Black Coffee” by The Commitments. Fact & Fable Productions made it into an advertisement for Fair Trade Coffee. See it here on YouTube:
Or, check out “Autumn Leaves”, sung by Eva Cassidy. Fact & Fable turned it into an unforgettable Music Video:
Marketing is a far more complete and far-reaching concept than advertising. Advertising just scratches the surface of a broad field of business-building tools. It gives the marketer an overview strategy in building a company or a product, and ultimately a much more permanent one.
It gives you something you just don’t see anywhere else every day.
SASS has Spoken