I like to listen to old radio programs on CD’s, on the rare occasions I have to drive any significant distance. Many of these CD’s have the original commercials intact. In a series of Phillip Marlowe detective dramas – based on the character created by the legendary writer Raymond Chandler – there are commercials for the 1950 Ford sedans, and they are really spectacular radio commercials. They feature true Unique Selling Propositions:
- Ford had the only budget priced sedan with a powerful V-8 vs.versus all others in their class with 6 cylinder engines
- They had “king-size brakes” typically found only in much more expensive cars, providing maximum safety; and so on.
- Some of the commercials featured testimonials, like an airline pilot comparing the experience of driving this car to that of flying a plane, soaring above the crowds.
- They all had a strong call to action, pushing listeners to immediately arrange a test drive. And they all directed listeners where to find their local dealer in their phone directories, plus this line:
“… or perhaps you know him personally. He’ll be happy to arrange…”
The idea that you might know your local Ford dealer personally, whether you do or not, is a powerful piece of persuasion. It suggests that your Ford dealer is a man of your community, a neighbor, a person who is accessible to you, out and about, there to be held accountable. And even if you don’t actually know him personally, it reminds you that it feels like you do, because he appears in his own advertisements with his family and pets, and you know things about him as a result of his advertising, marketing, and public relations, maybe, that he was a war hero or a star on the area’s college sports team or spearheads a big fundraising effort each year for the volunteer fire department.
3 Tips for REAL personal, person-to-person relationships
First, I am a champion of the idea that there is neither good nor bad media per se, just as neither hammer nor scalpel nor gun is a good or bad tool. It depends on the purpose it is to serve and the capability of the person using it. The merits of any and every advertising and marketing tool, media, strategy, or tactic are totally situational.
Second, the merits of one almost always depend on the context of use and synergy with others. A billboard-wrapped truck in and of itself may have very limited value, as Jeff mentioned, largely due to the painfully brief message that can be grasped at 55 miles per hour (and realistically, who drives 55 mph anymore?). But if that billboard-wrapped truck is strategically parked in a neighborhood where work is being done on a happy customer’s home, from 5:00 to 6:30 PM, when all the neighbors are returning home from work AND the people working on the house are in good uniforms and, if approached, are able and eager to answer questions and collect information or immediately whip out a cell phone and connect the prospect with a salesperson back at the office AND the surrounding homes get a multi-step mailing campaign immediately after the work on Herb and Betty’s house is done, beginning with a testimonial letter from Herb and Betty to their neighbors, well, the billboard wrapped truck may be very valuable indeed.
Third, and most important – MOST important-when advertising and marketing media are used in a way that makes the connection human, from a person to another person, and reminds that “he is my local Ford dealer I probably know personally” – used in a “grassroots” way – it is all infinitely more effective.