Don’t create problems. Create solutions!

“Don’t create problems. Create solutions.” - Unnamed Ad Exec.

This is another old quote that one of my first mentors told me. It applies in many situations, and in this case we’re going to talk about it in terms of online advertising.

Businesses have problems. Online advertising creates solutions.

Businesses generally find that they have 1 of 3 problems. The problem usually consists of the needs for new customers or the needs to keep existing customers and make them more valuable. Customer Acquisition, Customer Retention and Customer Valuation. These are the key problems that face companies and online advertising exists to present solutions for these common problems.

My statement is this:

Online Advertising is more cost-effective than any other form of media at providing solutions for these key metrics of Customer Acquisition, Retention, and Valuation.

Over the last few years I have worked on numerous accounts that targeted youths, adults, parents, teens, CEO’s, managers, farmers, and any number of other audiences. The goals for 99% of these campaigns were to acquire, retain or increase the value of their customers. Over the last 8 years, I can count on one hand the number of clients that were unable to achieve their cost per customer goals at some spending level. Some of these were obviously easier to achieve than others, but they all were able to hit their goals.



My questions is this:

Prove me wrong… Do you agree? If not, why? What have you tried and why didn’t it work?

The evolution and maturation of our industry will only happen from the sharing of information. Obviously we cannot share crucial client information, but there are nuggets of knowledge and learning that we can all benefit from. Your understanding of what worked and what didn’t in your campaigns will help other advertisers get more from the Internet, and the more that we prove the effectiveness of the web, the more likely we are to pull other advertisers in with us.

Of course, I cannot ask for your input unless I offer some of my own. Here are some of my own observations on what does and does not work online:

  1. Do not over complicate the issue. If the metric for success is the acquisition of a cost-per-customer, then focus on the cost-per-customer. Click rates are useless by themselves and are an extinct term, much like the term “hits”.
  2. Remember that the creative and the media are tied closely together. You have the opportunity to limit the risk associated with online campaigns because the exposure time is short and the response time is immediate. If something is not working, you can make an immediate change to both the creative and the media placement without being tied to materials dates and close dates.
  3. Get to the point quickly. Online creative needs to quickly offer the benefits to the consumer and pique their curiosity right away. I saw some beautiful Interstitials this week that took 30-35 seconds to get to the end… when was the last time you sat at your keyboard and did not push a button for 30-35 seconds?
  4. To get something of value, offer something of value. The reason this is called Interactive media is because it is not passive. This is not a one-way street. There is no such thing as a free lunch. These clichés are even truer online. If you expect a user to fill out a form of personal information, offer them some exclusive content or research in exchange.
  5. Divide and conquer. The Art of War tells us that you isolate your enemy and take them apart piece by piece. Advertising is the same way… identify a segment of your audience and then speak to them clearly. Once you have saturated that audience, move on to another segment. That is how your advertising will be effective. The web can be a mass-market medium, but its beauty is in the convergence of many smaller communities.

We have all heard case studies that say what works and what doesn’t, but in the current market, the rules are changing rapidly and we need to hear them again, but updated. To be reminded of the obvious is a basic human need and one that I believe we can satisfy.

Don’t create problems. Create solutions.

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