Understanding the True Purpose of Any Advertisement

We’ve already said to tattoo one thing on your forehead — remember, what you can measure, you can manage.

Here’s another: the real purpose of any advertisement is simply to get a response.

Notice, we didn’t say “to make a sale”. Nor did we say “to make an impression”. Nor did we say “to keep your name before the public”. We said “to get a response.”
In the light of that, consider a poster at Logan Airport in Boston. It’s a poster maybe six yards long and two yards high. It’s big. It’s on the right-hand side of a long corridor. You’re going down that long corridor pushing or carrying the bags you’ve just unloaded from the baggage carousel.
You’re probably rushing to get somewhere. And then you see the poster (well, I imagine some people actually see it — most are either talking or worrying about missing an appointment).
It proclaims in big letters:
KPMG means business.
Can’t you just imagine a businessperson walking past it? They stop (unlikely, I know, but let’s imagine). They scratch their head and they say to themselves, “KPMG means ‘business’ — where’s the ‘b’.” Or “Huh, maybe I missed something — how could those four letters mean ‘business’? Oh well, maybe I’ll figure it out one day.”
Or how about a businessperson walking by the sign. Let’s imagine she gets excited at the prospect of four letters she’s never seen before meaning “business.” And let’s suppose she really wants to immediately drop everything because she wants to talk with whomever KPMG are.
Problem! There’s no phone number!
You see the point? I do hope so.
And each KPMG Partner in Boston knows how much the “advertisement” cost (remember, measure everything that moves). Of course, they also know how many responses they get from the advertisement, don’t they?
Of course they don’t.
So why have the advertisement? Because someone somewhere has said, “You’ve got to keep your name before the public.”
Whenever your client says something like that to you, remind them of this fact — the sole purpose of an advertisement is to get a response.
You see, when they understand that, they won’t make what we might call “the KPMG mistake.” They simply won’t attempt to keep their name before the public. They won’t run what are sometimes called “Institutional” advertisements. They’ll replace them with advertisements that get responses (or, if you will, Direct Response advertisements).
Let’s use the hapless KPMG as another example.
In 1996 in New York we saw a fairly expensive print advertisement from them that said something like:
KPMG — more than a name, they’re letters of intent.
The advertisement went on (with very few words) to explain that Peat Marwick was changing their name to KPMG and that meant something (I’m not sure what it meant … but it meant something). So it was a statement to the world that they were changing their name. There was no phone number, no response device.
But suppose someone had reminded them that the purpose of an advertisement is to get a response
Maybe then their advertisement would have turned out like the one below:
In the first 3 months of this year, KPMG helped 327 New York businesses add $37 million to their bottom lines.
Now KPMG is ready to do the same for you. 
This free booklet shows you how.
See the name? KPMG. It may mean little to you right now. And that’s fine. What is impressive is what we do for our selected clients.
They’ve literally added millions of dollars to their bottom lines, thanks to our helping them see the right issues and then working with them to make substantial differences.
KPMG is now one of the world’s leading advisers to business in financial, operational, information technology, and human resource issues. But what’s more important is how we can help you.
We work with businesses from $xxxx to $xxxx revenues and help them grow it profitably. We show you how in a new booklet called “Making an even better success in New York”.
We’ll send you the booklet at our cost so you can discover for yourself how we might best help you. It’s stimulating reading and a must for anyone wanting to achieve more.
Simply complete the coupon below and fax or mail it to us. Alternatively, simply call on our Toll-free number 12345678.
 
Underneath will be a coupon showing a picture of the free booklet, with space for the responder to write in names, addresses, phone numbers, and so on.
Now of course, the KPMG Partners said, “But you’ve got to keep your name before the public, haven’t you?” Well, let’s just say they’re right.
By my count, the advertisement above uses their name far more times than the “KPMG, more than a name, they’re letters of intent” advertisement. So if keeping the name before the public is important, our advertisement wins hands down.
But go further. Now they’ve got a response (not a sale, but a response). And now they can work with that person (or more likely — people) who’ve responded to create a sale.
It makes sense, doesn’t it?
With this direct response type of advertising, you can measure (there we go again) the value, profitability and performance of virtually any advertisement because it produces something you can track, analyze, and compute.
Institutional advertising, on the other hand, produces no immediate results. If you are running institutional advertisements, you need to change them to direct response.
How many responses do you get from your advertisements?