Inform vs. Excite

excite v. 1 a: to call to activity b: to arouse to feeling 2 a: ENERGIZE b: to produce a magnetic field in 3: to increase the activity of 4: to raise to a higher energy level syn see PROVOKE

A lot of marketing doesn't do the whole job. It informs, but doesn't excite. The fact is, it doesn't matter if you have the best product if you're not getting prospects excited. If you don't excite your prospect, you won't sell your product. So, how do you excite your prospect? Start by acknowledging that your prospect isn't just a prospect. She's a person with emotions who doesn't respond with just her head. She responds with her heart, soul, and funny bone. As a marketer, you must tap into the right emotional and psychological nerve that gets your prospect excited.

For example, when Canon wants to sell its new camera to families, they'll tout its high-tech features, but that's not ultimately how they'll sell it. They'll sell it by associating those features with the things that we, as humans, care about ... a child's first steps, a great vacation, or a 90th birthday celebration. When Chrysler targets NFL-watching guys with a spot for its new sports car, there's a reason they use quick cuts, heavy-metal music, and mention it goes 150 mph. Will you drive 150 mph? Doubtful. Does that still excite the macho male libido? Absolutely.

Follis Fact #5 If you want'em excited about your product, you'd better get'em excited about your marketing.

My agency once created a campaign that got people so excited, they took to the streets. The client, Daffy's, was an off-price fashion retailer. Our outdoor ad read:

If you're paying over $100 for a dress shirt, may we suggest a jacket to go with it?

(The visual was a straight jacket.)

Everyone who saw the ad loved it. Well, almost. Shortly after the campaign broke, an organization called The Alliance for the Mentally Ill informed us that straight jackets and mental illness were nothing to joke about. They demanded that we immediately pull the ads. We were shocked. So, after discussing it with our client, we concluded that The Alliance was overreacting. And, we respectfully told them so.

Undaunted, they elevated the issue by bringing it to the attention of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, as well as the outdoor media companies who posted the ads. Mysteriously, our clients' stores began receiving disturbing, anonymous calls. Eventually, the story even found its way to The New York Times -- not that we minded. As if that wasn't enough, when my partners and I arrived at a major industry award show to accept for "Best Outdoor Advertising", The Alliance members were there waiting for us. Angry picketers crowded the hotel entrance waving posters and flyers condemning both our ad, and our agency. Thankfully, things remained peaceful.

Eventually, we did replace the ad, but not before our client got more press and sales than they'd dreamed of. The moral of this story is worth noting: Despite the fringe few who can, and probably will, make a stink about anything even slightly provocative, sales is always the best barometer of public opinion.

Follis Fact #6 It's better to upset a few people than bore them all.

Consumers are bombarded with thousands of messages a day, so if a marketer can't cut through the clutter he's wasting money. That's why it pays to be bold. In fact, I tell my clients that if a concept doesn't make them at least a little nervous, then it's probably not that good. Bold does not mean irresponsible. A brand image is precious and should be handled accordingly. That doesn't mean being boring. The challenge is to get people excited, and a smart, bold effort will do that better, and for less money, than something innocuous and uninspired.

As a rule, larger clients with a broad base are much more nervous about doing anything the least bit provocative. Seth Godin says, "Too often, big companies are scared companies. They work to minimize any variation including the good stuff that happens when people, who care, create something special." These companies are layered with middle managers, steeped in corporate politics, and terrified of sticking their neck out over advertising that anyone might perceive as risky. They don't realize that no one is ever bored into buying anything and it's a bigger risk to do something safe and boring.

Regardless of size or corporate culture no marketer can afford to lose sight of the purpose of marketing: to reach, and motivate, as many prospects as possible. With that understanding it's impossible not to offend someone, somewhere, about something. So, rather than ask; "Are we offending anyone?" you might want to ask, "Are we getting anyone excited?"

© 2005 John Follis. All rights reserved.

For John's booklet: "How to Attract and Excite Your Prospects: A Guide for Getting the Best Marketing Results", visit: m

John Follis is one of the 12 "Best Advertising Minds of New York" as voted by The New York Ad Club. His campaigns are in 3 college textbooks, he has written for ADWEEK, and he has taught at 3 New York universities. Currently, John works on select projects, consults, and speaks. John may be reached at:

For consulting info, visit: Marketing Therapy: m

For speaking info, visit: Follis Speaking: htm

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