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What Your Mum – and Groucho – Didn’t Tell You About Advertising

Legendary comedian Groucho Marx once observed that television is called a medium because it’s neither rare, nor well done.

One of the many hats I wear at my multimedia production business – 4th Mesa Productions – is that of Advertising/Marketing Consultant. Another is Advertising Copywriter.

And in those capacities, very often I have to agree with Groucho.

How can we get tv – and advertisements in all mediums for that matter – so wrong?

Because we insist on doing things back-asswards, that’s how?

Here’s a typical scenario. A company decides they want to do some radio advertising. Or tv. Or print. They hold some meetings, thrash out ideas, formulate a plan of attack, then employ someone to work on a script and produce the commercials. Finally, they decide on where they want to place the ads, based on who they think will reach their customers best.

Which is precisely the wrong order!

Effective, targeted, cost-effective Advertising is all about The Three M’s.

In this order:

  1. Market. How can you possibly know how or where to pitch your message until you know who your Target Audience – your Market – is? Always start by clearly defining who you want to reach.

  2. Message. Now that you know who you wish to communicate with or convince, you can craft your message in a way that best suits them. And you can say it in ways they understand. This almost always means taking into account who or what is important to that Market. Always produce a message your Market wants to hear.

  3. Medium. With a clear Target Audience and a Message you know they’ll be receptive to, you can decide how best to reach them. Always select a Medium or Method – radio, tv, print, online, whatever – based on where your Market is most comfortable.

This is not some arcane formula.

This is not, as they say, Rocket Science.

It’s the way we seek to convince people in everyday Life!

When I wanted to propose to my amazing wife, Mary, I had a clear Target Audience.

I worked on my Message. (And believe me, I realised I had to convince not only her, but her family.)

And finally I chose the Method (Medium) I knew she would just love.

Put in those terms, it might sound manipulative, almost clinical.

It’s neither.

Believe me, Advertising 101 was the last thing going through my mind when I proposed.

Market. Message. Medium.

Who we want to engage with, what we want to tell them, then how we’ll do it.

It’s what we do – naturally – every single time we formulate a plan that’s important to us!

And almost 24 years later, I can’t imagine a good day without Mary.

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