“Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.”
This quote is often credited to Dr. Steuart Henderson Britt, author of Marketing Management and Administrative Action in 1973. However, there is evidence of a much earlier origin of this quote.
As advertising evolved and became more accessible to a multitude of smaller businesses, its traditional methods arguably became less effective in moving the sales needle. Advertising professionals have been working very hard to re-invent themselves, but the majority of efforts were invested in the areas of medium, media channels, and ubiquity/relevance of content. However, the fundamental premise remains “let US tell THEM how great our brand is.”
The future of advertising in the age of Social Customer takes a different direction. I think the Customer Experience will become an even more critical force in influencing consumer choices than it is today. That means advertising people need to figure out the best way to help happy customers tell their authentic stories in the ways and places these stories would make the largest impact.
The girl (i.e., the Consumer) referenced in the iconic quote is no longer in the dark. In fact, the light of information available about the brands is so bright and plentiful that your winking is not noticeable to her at all.
A growing number of consumers are better informed about the products they are considering than advertising copywriters. Consumers learn by researching relevant websites, reading pundits’ reviews, and exploring customer experiences of their peers available online. Advertising used to be driven by “clever” messaging. In the age of Social Customer the new “clever” is “clear”, and it starts with a great product.