Advertising and "The Comfort Zone"

As we all know, advertising can be viewed as a form of psychology. It can be viewed as either a psychology of the masses or a psychology of the one, depending on the methodology that you apply to your practice. The bottom line is that an analysis of psychology can be very important when we determine how advertising works.

Advertising works because you are able to express an idea or convey a message to a person who is potentially responsive to that message. What I am curious about is how we can affect the mind of the target audience in the most efficient means possible. What I am most interested in (this week) is the concept of a "Comfort Zone" and its affect on the effectiveness of advertising.

There are two schools of thought on this discussion. The first is based on the concept that speaking to a consumer while they are in their Comfort Zone is most effective; the opposite school of thought would logically be that you can be much more efficient by reaching the target outside of their Comfort Zone and jarring their thought patterns to achieve a response.



In order to determine which might be most effective, let's define what I am referring to as "The Comfort Zone." In my methodology, the Comfort Zone is a combination of contextual relevancy coupled with a familiarity for receiving messages from advertisers.

For example, a Comfort Zone for many consumers is network television. Network television offers an environment where consumers are typically aware they are going to be shown advertisements and they are quite accepting of this. If an advertiser buys time on "Friends," they know that the audience will be of a certain demographic, and they will be willing to accept advertising in their direction. Most forms of Traditional advertising are well within the confines of the consumer's typical Comfort Zone.

Outside of the Comfort Zone are areas where consumers are not used to typically receiving marketing messages and an advertiser who utilizes these channels does run the risk of alienating themselves from the consumer through negative association with the advertising experience, but almost universally it is accepted that these methods break through the clutter more effectively than some of those types of advertising that fit within the confines of the Comfort Zone.

Outside of the Zone are such vehicles as Wild Postings, Telemarketing, door-to-door salesmen, point-of-purchase or event marketing (in some cases) and in certain cases we can view many forms of Internet advertising as outside of the typical parameters of the Comfort Zone.

Before you rush to judgment on whether advertising outside of the Comfort Zone is ineffective, I ask that you think about some of the campaigns you may have come in contact with over the last year and how they were most effective? If your dollars are competing within the Comfort Zone for the attention span of your target, you must spend more to get your point across, as you will blend in with those messages they are being bombarded with each day.

If you focus a significant portion of your dollars in those methods that fall outside of the Comfort Zone, then you may not require as much frequency to convey your message, but you must balance this with the possibility that you should generate a reaction quickly before the negative impact of these tactics are achieved. The development of a Brand certainly should occur with a combination of the two, but if you are looking to achieve a purely Direct Response metric then these Non-Comfort Zone tactics may be exactly what you are looking for.

As in psychology, the model for your advertising will always depend on the target. The target in this case is analogous to the patient. Each patient requires a slightly different method of therapy and each target audience (and each desired outcome) requires a slightly different prescription. I can't tell you how to run your campaigns, but I can try to get you to think outside of your own Comfort Zone and examine the models for advertising from a different vantage point. This different vantage point can typically allow you to see things as you may not have seen them before, and this is how we find new solutions to old problems.

What do you think?

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