Are You Putting Lipstick on a Pig?

Are You Putting Lipstick on a Pig?

When business is slow, the wise business owner wonders what might be wrong with his business. The average business owner thinks only that something is wrong with his advertising. As I said last week, I believe it was advertising salespeople who taught business owners to think this way, saying, “The secret is to reach the right people. You've obviously been reaching the wrong ones.”

But who, exactly, are “the right people” to buy a product no one wants?

David Ogilvy once asked, “Can advertising foist an inferior product on the consumer? Bitter experience has taught me that it cannot. On those rare occasions when I have advertised products which consumer tests have found inferior to other products in the same field, the results have been disastrous.”

William Bernbach echoed Ogilvy's statement. “Advertising doesn't create a product advantage. It can only convey it.”

But it was Professor Charles Sandage who turned Ogilvy's complaint into a manifesto: “Advertising is criticized on the ground that it can manipulate consumers to follow the will of the advertiser. The weight of evidence denies this ability. Instead, evidence supports the position that advertising, to be successful, must understand or anticipate basic human needs and wants, and interpret available goods and services in terms of their want-satisfying abilities. This is the very opposite of manipulation.”

Yet when traffic is slow, the accusing finger will usually point to advertising.

Great ads flow from great products just as poetry flows from deep feelings. Telling a writer to write a great ad for a less-than-great product is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-headed child.

To know the power of the ads that I might write for you, only two questions need be answered:

1. How good are you at what you do?
2. How good are your competitors? (Yes, you are being compared to everyone in your category whether you accept it or not. This is why the Wizard of Ads partners never attempt to write ads for a client until they have visited that client's competitors.)

The writing of sparkling ads for a dull business is like putting lipstick on a pig. If advertising were all it took to grow businesses to their full potential, the faculty of Wizard Academy would not be so heavily invested in the development of New School sales training, Wonder Branding, internet Persuasion Architecture, Systematic Idea Generation, Online Video Introductions, Radio in the 21st Century, Blogging, and Public Relations.

Soon my partner Mike Dandridge will release his new book, The One-Year Business Turnaround: Breakthrough Marketing Without Advertising. In that book, Mike will reveal fifty-two tested techniques that helped him build his electrical supply company to more than one million dollars a month in sales, even though he was challenged by Home Depot on the left and Lowe's on the right. Sound like something you might want to read?

Yes, Wizard Academy is investigating growth techniques far beyond traditional advertising. Is it maybe time that your business did, too?

Roy H. Williams

PS – Speaking of new books, Wizard Academy (and Harvard University) graduate Greg Farrell has written a dazzler, America Robbed Blind, that's now available from Wizard Academy Press. As a deep investigative reporter for USA Today, Greg shares the untold stories behind Enron, Tyco and Worldcom, as well as the truth behind the Martha Stewart scandal. Were you aware that the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission tried desperately to warn Congress of what was coming 13 months before the Enron debacle? Greg Farrell's America Robbed Blind is an eye-opener that could easily be made into a movie. Hardcover.