Creating a Direct Connection

by Dean Hybl

Last night when getting the mail from my mailbox, I was startled by a lizard that made its way into the mailbox and was holding tightly to the mail. After finally flicking him off the few letters in the box, I was even more surprised to see that the first letter, in a yellow envelope, was an advertisement for Geico, which features a type of lizard (the Gecko) in company advertisements.

While this direct product connection was obviously purely coincidental, it got me thinking about advertising and how Geico and other companies pay millions to create the kind of instant product recognition that I experienced when opening my mailbox.

There was an interesting article in Sports Illustrated last week talking about Peyton Manning as a pitchman for a variety of advertisers. The author admitted that he really didn’t care or remember what products Manning’s commercials were about, but he enjoyed Manning’s ads because he has a goofy sense of humor and isn’t afraid to make fun of himself.

While I’m sure Manning appreciated the comments, I’m not sure the advertising reps for MasterCard, Sony, Direct TV or any of the other companies that have paid millions of dollars for his services had the same appreciation.

With television advertising’s biggest event, the Super Bowl, coming up this weekend, I’m sure we will see a great deal of Peyton Manning, LeBron James and other current advertising favorites pitching products. It is always fun every year to see the latest ad gimmicks whether it is monkeys working in an office, an infant who purchases online stock or horses playing football. However, with the cost for ads during the Super Bowl running $3 million for 30-seconds (not to mention the cost for producing the commercials and securing talent), do these companies really get that kind of return on their investment?

While advertising and marketing are certainly important elements of promoting a business and products, when resources shrink you have to look at what will generate your greatest return. Studies have indicated that more targeted public relations programs designed to ensure that your message is reaching your specific audience are usually more cost effective than mass audience campaigns.

It is certainly impossible to be so targeted that you can start putting live lizards in people’s mailboxes. However recognizing your audience, understanding what they already know about you, what you want them to know about you and what you want them to do will ensure that the message you are sending gets to the right people and provides the kind of memorable connection that I received just by going to get the mail.

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