Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Christopher Cross and Advertising… A Lesson


On June 21st, 1980, my friend Chris and I attended the Texxas World Music Festival (more familiarly known as the Texxas Jam) at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The show featured the Eagles, Foreigner, Cheap Trick, a pre-I Can't Drive 55 Sammy Hagar, April Wine and Christopher Cross.

Now, let's look at the lineup again and consider 100,000 people packed into a football stadium on the second day of summer (during what would prove to be one of the hottest summers ever) for a day long event. One of those performers is different from the others, one of those performers just doesn't belong. Can you guess which one? If you answered "Christopher Cross" congratulations, you've won a Non-Poets Rock Oklahoma! t-shirt. Come by the station during business hours Monday through Friday to pick up your prize!

In retrospect, it's easy to say Christopher Cross had no business on that bill. In 1980 however, his first hit, Ride Like The Wind was soaring up the rock and pop charts. Except, as we know now, that was about the rocking-est song on the album and the second single was the notably mellow Sailing which, like the rest of Cross' debut album, wasn't exactly fodder for 100,000-sun-baked-drug-fueled-show-us-your-tits 1980 concert-goers.

To this day, I can vividly recall watching the entire stadium collectively yawn from my upper deck seat during Christopher Cross' set, though they did stir a bit when he closed with Ride Like The Wind. And, while I didn't hear it, according to several web sources, Cross was booed lustily during  his performance of Sailing and for the remainder of his blessedly short set.

So what does my personal Woodstock moment have to do with advertising? Simple. Just as some performers don't belong playing stadium shows, some forms of advertising are better for your business than others. I don't know how many times I've spoken to business owners who told me, "We advertised, but it didn't work." When I ask where they advertised, the answer I get most often is some form of media that's not right for the business, be it hitting the wrong demographics on radio, the wrong zip codes in direct mail, a dead email list, a bad day part with TV ads, or simply expecting one month's worth of advertising to drive business all year.

Where you advertise your business, whether its TV, radio, direct mail, email, digital or social media, matters. When you advertise your business matters.Why? Because, unless you sell food, something people consume three times a day, odds are, your product or service isn't something someone needs every day. While the goal of any advertising is to drive sales, the goal of a coherent, advertising campaign is to have your company top of mind, when they're ready to, or need to, buy your product or service. Just as Christopher Cross had no business playing the Texxas Jam, a Christmas store shouldn't advertise in June and an arthritis medicine doesn't need to waste its ad money targeting 15-year old girls.

Every advertising sales rep will have a "good deal" to help your business advertise. But before you sign on the bottom line, make sure it's a good deal for your business. Ask yourself if your message will still resonate with your target audience a month after the ad buy ends. Ask what the ad package will do for your business six months from now, not 30 days from now.

All advertising is not the same. Make sure your advertising dollars are spent where they'll do the most good for your business long-term. Think of your advertising goals in terms of all year, not just in terms of one newspaper insertion, radio flight, email blast or digital ad. Focus on the big picture for your business's advertising and your sales will ride like the wind and keep sailing all year long.

See also: AC/DC And The ABCs Of Advertising

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