Focusing On What TRULY Matters In Advertising

Now that the Super Bowl is over, the Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review board has royally appointed who they deem the winners and losers of Super Bowl advertising, using a “strategic framework called ADPLAN” to evaluate the effectiveness of the ads.

With ads at an average media cost of $7 million for 30 seconds, not to mention the production costs and costly celebrity endorsements piling on millions more, you would think at least ONE of the criteria for a good ad in this framework would be sales generated. Nope.

Another commercial rating from USA Today, the Ad Meter, allows ordinary people to sign up to vote on which commercial they liked. Not the targeted buyers of a particular product or service. Anyone with an opinion. A creative director from one of the agencies that produces Super Bowl commercials said, “The Ad Meter is the only list that matters.” I beg to differ.

All of this is a big, giant, unproductive waste of time and advertising dollars if it doesn’t sell something.

The G.O.A.T. of advertising, David Ogilvy, would be rolling in his grave. Ogilvy summed this up perfectly when he said, “A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.” Most of the Super Bowl ads you see are in direct opposition to this and are ALL about drawing attention to the commercial, not selling the product.

Ogilvy created the most successful advertising firm of his time in both gross sales and legitimate home-run campaigns that PRODUCED SALES. I have studied his work and found his books to be 100% as relevant today as they were when he wrote them 40 to 60 years ago.

I firmly believe that companies advertise on the Super Bowl more for bragging rights and an ego boost than for the more utilitarian purpose of getting customers to buy their products. I guarantee that if any of the companies advertising gave me a $7 million budget, I could get some products and services sold with half my brains tied behind my back. However, my methods wouldn’t rank them on USA Today or get them listed in Twitter’s hashtag wars.

Because of this, I’m still viewed as the “used-car salesman” of marketing by many who think my methods are too dated, too aggressive, and too “silly.” Well, the proof is in the pudding, as they say. You might not like the sales letter I write, but does that matter if it actually brings you good-paying clients?

To be clear, I didn’t write it so you, the advertiser, would like it. I wrote it to produce results; these are not the same goals by a stretch, and you need to be very aware that many marketing firms write ads to appease their client and keep them paying, not serve the goal of producing sales.

Years ago, I created a marketing campaign that helped a VAR sell millions of dollars in managed services, hitting their annual goal for sales in a matter of months.

A complete and total win. Upon the conclusion of the campaign, I was immediately fired by the owner’s son, who decided he didn’t like my “embarrassing” methods of marketing and was taking his marketing budget to a PR firm that promised to get him and his company covered by various news outlets.

Many years later, I bumped into the GM of the company at an industry event. He told me he was also let go by the owner’s son because his viewpoints and methods for sales (which were very much aligned with mine) were too aggressive and “unprofessional” for the son’s liking.

He also shared with me that the campaign I created was still, by far, the single most successful campaign they had ever run in the company, and that nothing else they had tried even came close to the tangible results. Like the clueless stuffed suits paying millions for Super Bowl ads, the guy running this company is more interested in stroking his own ego than in results.

Obviously, you can choose whatever approach you like when advertising your company, but I would suggest that your choices be governed by the performance and return of the campaign, not opinions or the popularity of what people say they like.

That’s the flaw with focus groups. When asked, people will tell you they like less greasy, lightly salted chips, but their actual buying behavior shows they BUY the greasiest, saltiest chips. They want to believe they made decisions one way and will answer surveys and polls that way. People who are asked, “Do you like my advertising,” will often tell you they would NEVER respond to such nonsense, but WE can show they are opening, reading, clicking and responding.

In summary, you have to be very careful about confusing activity with accomplishment.

STOP counting irrelevant ego numbers. So much of advertising is based on quantity over quality. Preference over performance. Many Internet marketers love to brag about the number of friends and followers, views on YouTube and subscribers they have. While these numbers have a place, you cannot substitute them for things that ACTUALLY matter, like appointments booked with qualified prospects, sales generated and actual ROI. GOOD customers, not ALL customers. Right fit, not just “more.”

Right now tickets are available for our annual conference happening in April. This sells out every year so if you want to attend, click the link below for more information:

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There’s no doubt about it: Robin Robins has helped more MSPs and IT services companies to grow and prosper, liberating them from stagnation, frustration, drudgery and low incomes. For over 20 years, Robin has been showing MSPs and IT services firms how to implement marketing plans that attract higher-quality clients, lock in recurring revenue streams and secure high-profit contracts. Her methods have been used by over 10,000 IT services firms around the world, from start-ups to multimillion-dollar MSPs. For more information and a FREE copy of The MSP’s Ultimate Guide To IT Services Marketing And Lead Generation, go to


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