The need to “be right”

Pride is the mother of all advertising sins.  Often, successful business owners are high-ego driven people, who don’t like to be “wrong”.   This keeps  them making the same advertising mistakes over and over again.  It keeps them advertising things that no one (but themselves) cares about. It keeps them blaming the advertising instead of learning how advertising indeed works.  It’s why so few high-ego businesses like local car dealers, lawyers, and doctors have memorable advertising campaigns.  It takes someone who recognizes the model is broken before anything changes.

To understanding how media “works”, we must understand the #1 law that governs all advertising: Consumer Behavior, and Emotions drive all consumer behavior*…period.  In a simple form, it breaks down like this.

  • There are three phases of consumer buying behavior: Relational, Transitional,  and Transactional.
  • The longer the sales cycle (HVAC, jewelry, cars once every few years, vs. say a restaurant, grocery store, gasoline, etc.), the longer a customer is in Relational phase

Relational / Transitional /Transactional Modes

Relational: The phase customers are in before the need arises for your product. 95-98% of your target

Transitional: After an event occurs to move them into the sales funnel (anything from the everyday mundane events like “I’m hungry” to paradigm shifting life events like “my mother broke her hip and now she can’t live alone”). The length of time a customer stays in Transitional mode depends on a number of factors like personality types,  immediacy of solution needed, amount of expense, resources available, etc.

Transactional: After what my friend calls, the “Popeye moment” (as in, “I can’t stands no more!”). The immediate sales funnel. That 2-5% of your target that is ready to buy today. They’ve done any necessary research and they are ready to pull the trigger on a purchase.

  •  Each phase requires different advertising strategy.  One could argue for exceptions, but generally speaking, it works something like this.


Relational Strategy: The “Why”.   Persuade with emotions. Authentically enroll people with the “why” of your company. Details and facts are irrelevant in relational mode because they are not yet in the market for your product.   While emotions can be conveyed in any medium, the human brain is uniquely wired for processing the human voice, thus making intrusive sound-based media like radio and TV a prudent choice for not only arresting the attention of an audience, but also telling the “why” story of your company in an emotionally compelling way.

Transitional Strategy:  The “How”.  An event has occurred in the customers life and they are looking for possible options to solve their problem. Articles and blog entries on your site found through a solid SEO strategy.   Social Media conversations on  Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest, etcBehavioral Retargeting is becoming more and more effective tool in transitional phase. 

Transactional Strategy: The “Who, What, Where”.    They are ready to buy and they are looking for the details necessary to complete the transaction.  SEM (Pay Per Click) used correctly is a very effective tool in the Transactional phase.  Feedback sites like  Yelp, Angie’s List, Kudzu etc. are also becoming more and more important.  In certain cases print media can allow  a more comprehensive format to fill in the details and facts necessary to complete the transaction.  Search has a distinct advantage in that tools like Google Analytics allow advertisers to track metrics and provide reams of data that print media cannot (save tools like QR codes).

Trying to connect emotionally when consumers are in transactional mode is too late.  Filling ads with details in Transactional mode is too premature.

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