Sometimes it’s best to let people do the job you hired them for

This morning I took my car to the mechanic and told him the clutch was slipping badly. I also advised him when the problem seems to be at its worst (going up hills or accelerating).  He said that he’d take a look at it and ring me later to say what needs to be done in order to fix it.

So let’s just take a moment to break that scenario down.

  1. I had a problem (clutch slipping).
  2. I took the problem to a professional who I hire because he has a certain skill set (my mechanic).
  3. He said he’d come back to me with a solution.

Now, in the advertising world, the above scenario doesn’t always work this way. Let’s take a look at a few advertising scenarios.

Scenario 1

  1. The client wants a <insert new, fan-dangled media thing here> (for argument, let’s just say that it’s a Facebook page).
  2. The client then approaches their advertising agency and says, ‘I want a Facebook page’

Scenario 2

  1. The client has done some research and identified that there is a market for one of their existing products to be served in a larger container (for argument, let’s just say it’s a bottle of milk).
  2. The client tells their advertising agency, ‘We want to advertise that our milk is now available in a 600mL bottle’.
  3. The agency then comes back with a print advertisement that’s visually engaging, has a clear pack shot of the new-size bottle and a headline that reads ‘Brand X Milk. Now also available in a large 600mL bottle.’
  4. The client likes the ad, but they want to make a few changes. First, they ask the agency to change the headline so it reads ‘Brand X Milk. Now available from your local store in a larger 600mL bottle’. Their reason is that they want to include a reference to their distribution chain into the ad.
  5. The other change they ask the agency to make is to include a picture of the smaller, original-size bottle with the subhead ‘Also still available in original 300mL bottle’. Their reason is that they want make it very clear that their original size is still available too.

So let’s make a few observations from the above scenarios.

In Scenario 1, you’ll notice that the client didn’t give a problem. Instead, they’ve chosen to give a pre-selected solution to their advertising agency. This begs some questions like ‘what is the actual problem that the solution of a Facebook page is addressing?’ or ‘is this the best way to address that particular problem?’

In Scenario 2, you’ll notice that the client dictated what the headline in the ad was, and you’ll also notice that they changed the objective  – they broadened the focus so it now has to have a small reference to the product distributors and also has to advertise the original-size product. By adding in extra messaging like this, it only serves to dilute the ad (there is an earlier post on this subject).

So, if we take the advertising scenarios back to my dealing with the mechanic this morning, and applied Scenario 1, it would have involved me (who, in this case, is the client) going into the mechanic and telling him I wanted a new gearbox. I wouldn’t have engaged his area of expertise and I mightn’t even be addressing the real problem.

Applying Scenario 2 would have involved me going into the mechanic and asking him to fix the problem. Then I would have stood behind him and told him how to fix it, suggesting bolts to tighten etc. And, on top of this, I would have even thrown in an extra job as well, like asking him to wash the car because I wanted it to look shiny as well.

The moral of the story? You should try and keep in mind the reason why you chose to employ someone’s professional services, and then listen to their recommendations. It works in other industries. Advertising should be no different.



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