18 January 2008

Not glamorous enough

I often run into confrontations with advertising agencies. Advertising agencies, particularly in India, are so self-absorbed with branding that they overlook a vital tenet of marketing – which is to sell the client’s product. Unless the client’s product sells, no amount of advertising or branding can justify the company’s communication spends. Well, not for very long.

Advertising, though often central to marketing, is only one of the many channels of communication. To sell, a company needs to prepare and use other communication channels as well: product brochures and catalogues, sales presentations, mailers, posters, promotional collateral, technical data sheets, demos, customer lists and testimonials, installation and user guides, etc. This is particularly true for selling engineering or technical products.

However, advertising agencies find these (what they call) below-the-line communication channels not glamorous enough. What's worse, these communication channels don’t command high spends. Plus, they require deeper understanding of the client’s product, customer behaviour, as well as the sales process. Sometimes, they demand faster turnaround times from concept to delivery.

To advertising agencies, these communication channels are too labour-intensive and not remunerative enough. So, they shun away from working on these below-the-line strategies and creatives – and stick to big advertising campaigns. In so doing, I feel, advertising agencies fall short of fulfilling the wider role of marketing. But then, that’s how it has always been.

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