Does Clever Marketing Really Work?

Do clever, memorable marketing campaigns  Clever  increase sales? It’s an important question for you to answer in a time when every marketing dollar has to get results. Del Taco, a fast food chain specializing in Mexican dishes, had to grapple with this question recently. They announced that their commercials would no longer feature the character Dan. Dan was a Del Taco manager whose ideas for promoting the product usually ended up in disaster.

Recently Del Taco announced that they were changing their advertising focus. Instead of featuring Dan’s antics, Del Taco said their new campaign would focus on the great taste of their food.

Dan’s commercials were popular. They were funny. They were, in a word, clever. But were they effective? That’s tough to answer. Del Taco executives said that his character contributed to the brand. Did the Dan commercials increase sales? No one can say. What Del Taco does know is that it’s time for them to focus more attention on their food.

Clever advertising can be effective in building brand awareness. Clearly, people connected with the Dan character. But is that enough to get people to buy a product? Those of us with limited marketing budgets need to have a different goal than mere brand awareness. We must make sure our advertising does two things: connect with the consumer, and drive them to purchase our products.

How do we accomplish these 2 goals? Keep these truths in mind as you develop your next marketing plan.

1. There is one thing that is true of everyone in your target audience: they all have problems. If you can figure out the problems that plague your audience, you will make an instant connection. For example, a Del Taco radio commercial might target hungry men driving home from work. An effective opening line may say something like, “Worked hard? Hungry? Can’t wait ’til you get home? Del Taco’s half-pound combo burrito…” An ad like that shows that the company understands who their customers are, and what they need. That makes an instant connection.

2. Once you establish that you know what your target audience needs, show them how you can solve that problem. I know this sounds simple, but simple can be very effective in reaching people. The radio commercial might continue by describing the benefits of stopping at the nearest Del Taco: the fresh, hot, tasty food, the refreshing sodas, the cheap prices. It might even include the addresses of several local locations. The commercial positions the restaurant as the solution to the listeners’ hunger.

Is this formula too simple to work? Not at all! Many effective ads consist of nothing more than the announcement of a sale. “Maytag washers, 20 per cent off through Saturday.” This ad implicitly identifies a problem, namely that you need a washer. The solution? This store has Maytag washers, and at a great price, too.

Certainly, many marketing campaigns are more complex than that. Your target audience may have several problems that need to be addressed. There may be multiple layers of decision-makers, each with their own concerns. But if you keep in mind the problem/solution perspective, you can establish your company as the one who understands your audience, and can solve their problems. Establishing that reputation will enhance your bottom line faster than even the most clever marketing campaign.

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