Yelling Isn’t Selling > By Harvey Hoffenberg, Advertising Crossing – “Advice from Experts” Series

Yelling Isn’t Selling > By Harvey Hoffenberg, Advertising Crossing – “Advice from Experts” Series – June 11, 2007

When I was an art director at an advertising agency, I remember our President’s mantra, “Telling isn’t selling”. Alan Rosenshine, then BBDO President, and a visionary among visionaries, was clearly ahead of his time. His statement was simple, memorable, and insightful. But today, it wouldn’t go far enough.

Today “Selling” is more difficult than ever and a lot of “Yelling” has replaced even the “Telling”. Telling your audience that your product ”shines like there’s no tomorrow”, or what you’re drinking has “a rich cola taste” falls on deaf ears and doesn’t motivate anyone.

As messages get more and more difficult to be heard, seen and clicked, we see marketer’s—through their agencies– frustrations taken out on consumers by attempting to be the loudest person in the room. Like the guy who increases his volume at a meeting when he wants to be heard — thinking the louder he speaks, the more important what he has to say might seem. These marketers, failing to either have anything of substance to say or a creative way to say it, pound us over the head, ears and eyes with put-you-to-sleep arguments served up in expensively executed media, devoid of an idea worth remembering.

Some marketers–you know who you are–tend to plead their case, not in decibel level, but in trying to push their self-centered, assumptive and “uniquely” held point of view as “good”, “better”, or “best” on the market.”

Today’s generation, having just left or about to leave their protective, warm, cozy yet “annoying” parental handcuffs, isn’t ready to be manipulated by anyone. Telling them what’s best, then demanding they LISTEN is a big mistake. Yelling at them? “Fogedaboudit.” They’ve grown up leaning into computer screens, where there is no
need to yell. It’s not much different than walking down a busy metropolis being hawked by, screamed at and maligned by street venders. You run the other way…or should.

Young consumers don’t want to be SOLD anything…they are much sophisticated and wary of “the pitch”.

Today, marketing should be more like an invitation than an inquisition.

An invitation that is engaging and has something to say. And in the very style it is written and designed, says a lot about where you’re being invited to, the reason you might choose to attend and the kinds of people you might mingle with if you do attend.

Rather than yell at consumers, we should engage, inform and use our brand’s charming personality to create a dialogue with them. A unique and memorable idea couldn’t hurt. Today, that’s a more productive and enduring way to sell.