Let's rename item-and-price advertising for what it is, shall we?
I admit it. I'm still losing sleep over item and price advertising. We need to rename it.
Let's call it "piece-and-price."
A piece of merchandise is an item, right? And "piece and price" lets us use the acronym PAP.
And "PAP" is fitting, eh? As you may know, the word "pap" has two definitions.
1) "Bland soft or semiliquid food such as that suitable for babies or invalids."
2) "Reading matter that is worthless or lacking in substance."
Synonyms for "pap" include "nonsense," "drivel," "rubbish," "trash," and "noise." The latter is my favorite.
"Noise" is a direct reference to communication science.
Noise stands between the sender of a message and the receiver. In our case, noise is a barrier between advertiser and customer.
And PAP advertising is just noise.
Look at so many car dealers and appliance stores. "Picture! Price! Buy now!" Zero effort to engender a good feeling about their business.
Back when I was in radio, my most successful car dealer advertiser sold out their inventory every month. They did it by advertising one thing: Brand.
Every message compelled you to feel good about their dealership. They made you want to buy a car because it made them sound like people you want to be friends with.
Contrast that with the unbranded competition: "Yeah, we sell that, too. Buy it now!"
But...being king is different. Can you be the king of the PAP you advertise?
Remember when big-screen TVs were unusual and expensive? Every day, lots of PAP advertisers were showing you big TVs and big prices in their race to the bottom.
But not The King.
In California, a famous retailer called himself "The King of Big Screen TVs." He had PAP advertising. Big TVs! Low prices!
The King also showed you his face. He told you his name. He promised same-day delivery and 100% happiness. He said the customer is always right.
He also promised, in every ad, "I AM the king of big screens!"
He had a brand and he advertised it.
One can argue: it is an imperfect brand.
But it IS a brand. It is not just PAP. And for 30 years, he built a reputation as the leader in big-screen TV sales.
At his peak, he was selling $30 million in big TVs-out of a single retail store.
Yes, TVs. One store. 30 million bucks a year.
When he died in 2015, he was famous. Big newspapers and magazines wrote stories about him. He remains a celebrity even today. His brand outlasted his business.
People loved him.
Nobody loves PAP.
Unbranded PAP is racing to the bottom of the barrel.
Human beings are irrational, emotional creatures. They make decisions using emotion.
This is not my opinion. This is Nobel-prize winning science. Winning people over requires appealing to their emotions over the long term.
Your business must feel right. Making it so requires brand.
What if you are afraid of paying too much for a big TV? Who would you trust?
a) The generic appliance retailer, no branded personality, displaying pictures and prices (PAP!) of washing machines, refrigerators, ranges and, oh, big TVs? Or...
b) The guy who spends 30 years displaying pictures of big TVs at low prices while saying "I'm the king of big TV and you're the boss!"
It's not high art.
It doesn't need to be. It needs to be authentic, resonant and consistent.
It needs to feel good.
It needs to be something besides PAP.
Know someone who needs to electrify their branding for business as unusual? There's still a free copy of Lightning Branding: How to Generate Revenue Faster With An Electrifying New Brand is still available by clicking here.
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Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.