Consumers have a love/hate relationship with advertising. Some advertising is highly regarded, memorized and repeated, passed along virally. Other ads are the subject of scorn and vilification usually reserved for weapons of mass destruction. It is a worthwhile exercise to examine consumer attitudes toward advertising and to discover exactly what about it people find objectionable. Buried there is a lesson we can take back to our own marketing campaigns to ensure that it will be heard and trusted rather than frowned upon.
At its best, advertising is information meant to inform, educate and persuade. However, many perceive it as manipulative and inauthentic, filled with half-truths or worse. A quick look at some of the advertising to which we are exposed daily, however, seems to confirm some of the most negative perceptions.
How often do particular brands advertise, in big bold letters, “SALE!” or “40% OFF!” or “This weekend only”? If something is always discounted, if it is perpetually “on sale”, then consumers quickly develop an impression of the product as not worth the stated retail price. Rather than training the client to respect the product, we provide incentives to shop based on price. Likewise, advertising that does not comport with our own experience of reality causes us to mistrust not only the particular advert in question, but also the brand offering the product which, in the case of travel, is your agency. Thus, ads that promote a very low base or entry price which in fine print reveal taxes and fees that add up to hundreds of additional dollars breed mistrust.
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What to do about the problem: Knowing that many consumers inherently mistrust advertising, use caution in how you advertise pricing, sales and discounts. Remember that the client won on price is just as easily lost on price. Instead, gear your advertising away from product to the services your travel agency offers. Not only can you make solid claims that you can back-up with your own effort and performance, your own brand cannot be duplicated and bought cheaper elsewhere.
Center your advertising and marketing efforts on the services your company offers rather than on travel product. Provide solid facts and demonstrable value rather than claims of never-ending sales and perpetual discounts. Clients will perceive your brand as more authentic as a result, and will learn to trust your brand as standing for a verifiable integrity.
Tomorrow: Reason #2: Advertising is Interruptive