Why your marketing is failing: Your ads are suffering from Comparisonitis
Photo Credit: Adrian Clark
It’s a sneaky disease. Highly contagious. Many companies have it, and are unaware. It infects your advertising, crippling your marketing objectives. Not only can it be grossly expensive, it is also potentially terminal for a business.
You need to find out if you have it, before it’s too late.
You’re doing a healthy spend on advertising, but your returns aren’t increasing. You have followed all the guidance, all the strategy for media buys, and consulted people who are experts at marketing your product. Yet you’re seeing minimal gains or none at all.
Your advertising has ‘Comparisonitis.’ It’s a common disease, and possibly the most contagious one in the field. Comparisonitis is a situation where your ad strategy, development, placement and execution is failing because it is based on a matching comparison to other advertising in your industry.
It’s insidious, because we are often unaware of it happening. Here are the stages:
- Stage One: A business owner looks at all their competitors’ ads and subconsciously thinks, “Oh, I guess that’s how it’s done. That’s the standard.” We see no overt symptoms of this stage, as it often happens without our conscious awareness. In fact, the only way we can be sure that someone isn’t in this stage is if they are quite vocal about their disdain for ads within their own industry. Someone experiencing this stage looks at ads for their competitors and ponders how those ads would look with their own logo. A sure-fire clue to diagnosis is when these individuals say things like, “We should do this ad, but better.”
- Stage Two: Once the defenses are weakened by stage one, patients become susceptible to another infection. These bugs are called ‘Industry-Specific Marketing Services.’ They are usually the culprits behind your competitor’s advertising. They appear to be beneficial, arriving on the scene to help your advertising with the promise of special, industry-focused skills. But this is exactly where the infection takes hold. Instead of helping you distinguish yourself from your competition, they give you exactly the same tools and strategies they give your competition. They are an impressive creature, as they have evolved to do one thing, and do it incredibly well. The problem is, that once they’ve done that one thing incredibly well for one client, they weaken it by repeating the exact same procedure for everyone else in the industry. Imagine an organism that only has to hunt once to feed multiple times. They are terrifyingly efficient, and your first encounter with them is often very soothing and promising, thus they are very hard to shake.
- Stage Three: Homogeny. After investing considerable time and expense into an advertising strategy, you now have an ambitious campaign developed. You are highly visible, and have a presence in many types of media. All the time, effort and money has landed you in a position comparable to your competition. You should be in perfect shape.The worst part about Comparisonitis is that this is the first stage where it becomes detectable. You have invoices for all the consulting, design, media buys and execution, which are an increased expense. But your revenue hasn’t increased by nearly enough to justify this expense. Some sufferers start to get a sense that their message isn’t reaching their customers, so, they simply ramp it up. They spend more, and shout louder. They try to outdo their competition at the same game. In very rare instances, one organization can actually reach success this way. However, it is very expensive, and the moment that organization reaches success, it instantly guarantees that every other organization in the same industry will never succeed with the same tactics.
Comparisonitis is challenging to treat, because an infected company will usually not be able to recognize the infection. Worse, if they start to see it, they have bills to justify so they will pretend the infection doesn’t exist. Sometimes they will turn to the Industry-Specific Marketing Services for a second opinion. It is clear to an outsider that this is a bad choice, but advanced-stage comparisonitis is often associated with “tunnel-visionitis,” a condition that makes it very hard to communicate to a patient unless you are saying exactly what they want to hear.
The cure is a strong, often unsettling dose of “ZigVersusZag-acin.” It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it basically takes the patient’s expectations of good marketing and reverses the polarity. All the points of comparison that informed their marketing decisions before, now become examples of what not to do. This medication cannot be administered by force, it must be taken voluntarily, and it is a very difficult treatment for the patient. We’ve actually lost patients who would not take the treatment, as their business health continued to decline until they reached a terminal condition.
Fortunately advance screening is available. A potential candidate can be shown their competitors advertising and their reactions can be measured. A neutral reaction means the candidate may have been exposed to the disease. Any level of admiration or jealousy for the ad will certainly be a sign that they are suffering from comparisonitis. Find out immediately if they have advanced to stage two or not, as this individual is now very susceptible to the Industry Marketing Specialist bugs, and may have already had preliminary contact with them.
Comparisonitis is a dangerous condition. It’s hard to detect, and advanced stages can be fatal to an organization. Get your business checked out regularly for symptoms.
There’s no cure like prevention.
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