The Day of the Ad Man: Values-marketing #1

When you tell a story, the sincerity of your message connects you to your audience. More meaningful than product or cash, ‘values-marketing’ is about the whole person.

Does that sound a little flaky? 

Here’s the thing, as humans, we are all big piles of feelings, opinions and judgments. Our best clients, like the rest of us… seek to be understood and connect with others.

A shift has happened in marketing since the last ‘turn of the century’. See, I think it was precipitated by a shift to “social” thinking. The collective “WE” are no longer content in just being consumers, We want to make a statement, and We want to make a difference. If companies are successful in connecting an ideal with a group of people –  those people will talk about that company. Your idea spreads, and your business grows.

Product-Centric Marketing

In the last century, companies mostly talked TO us. There’s no specific date, but there was a time when our values lined up with “best product for your money” mentality. We took their word for it, and We lined up for them. Think of the giants like Sears and Montgomery Ward, they used quality as a measure. Perhaps because the race to the cheapest product hadn’t quite begun.

The idea was to present a product or service, and either tell us why it’s superior or why other products stink. The term “competitive advantage” describes one aspect. Discounts &/or price gauging would be features of product-centric marketing. Obviously, not all ads fall in line. The photographer’s or layout artist’s job is to think creatively and to push boundaries.

Those old ad guys would dictate advertisements first feature:

  • price
  • quality
  • value
  • timeliness
From the 1 February 1921 edition of The Ottawa Citizen.

You see, there’s no reason to look elsewhere because your product is superior.

1921 advertisement for Cream of the West flour, 1 February 1921, The Ottawa Citizen.

With advertisements that put focus on discounts & timeliness you could count on a big day.

From the 21 September 1950 edition of Australian newspaper Sydney Morning Herald.

A little sideways rant about “perceived value”

I really like writing about the book, Welcome to the Creative Age: Bananas, Business and the Death of Marketing by Mark Earls. It opens with a narrative about a banana. The author is on a road trip and decides to stop at a gas station for a snack. He goes in and he picks up a banana wrapped in a banana-shaped plastic case with a label that read “fresh banana snack”.

Perceived value is directly related to how much a customer is willing to pay for a good. The plastic wrapper and wrapper indicates this banana better. Bananas come with a pretty fabulous wrapper already and a magical color quality that tells us when they are fresh and sweet. We’ll get back to the banana.

Companies put out there what they do, why they are superior, and a lot of times, advertise cost and savings. Eventually, We stopped listening. Marketers realized that there was something missing: their customer. Questions emerged: “Why do my customers need my product?” “What is their pain-point?” That evolution moved advertising communications toward…

Consumer-Centric Marketing

My next post will feature a wonderful movie: Robots and how it relates to that consumer-centric approach.

*special thanks to for the vector images used in design.

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