The Latest Craze, Hacker Advertising

How did Tips go to being Hacks?  Now a book has been written about Hacker Advertizing as if the concept was just invented.  Essentially hacker advertising is no more a than handing out a book coupons that someone might use.  You know the type, those little books that have coupons for small restaurants, bistros, and fast food joints.  Few people actually use these coupons but while the booklet will not start a stampede to the cash register it can bring in a few more customers and increase ones revenues marginally.  And perhaps a couple of those new customers will become regulars as those who frequent one business in preference to another are the backbone for that business.

Of course the book gives more reference to the IPO businesses, the start-ups and how they get known.  All that Buzz that circulates the internet and attracts the attention of the cognoscenti seems to be of crucial importance.  Except that it is not that particular group from which the start-up derives its income and ultimately, it hopes, its profits.  The idea of all advertising is to attract customers, to attract their interest in your product.  This is done by a variety of means.  Sometimes one seeks the word association of company name and generic product.  If I say jeans do you think Levis, Wranglers, or another brand?  What if someone says hamburger?  Does the name of a fast food franchise come to mind or some little hole in the wall neighborhood hamburger joint?  Or do you think of your own homemade hamburgers?  And just because you link jeans with Levis do you run out and buy a pair or two when that words is heard or read?  A business owner must be careful that there is not a negative connotation with the business name or product.  I don’t like McDonalds and I hate that application Mickey D’s, it just makes me cringe.  Taco Bell and Subway are two more that I dislike as far as food goes.  Of course many people dislike Walmart as a store because they associate the name with political ideologies.

What advertising does is to try and use psychological advantage to draw the prospective customer into the business, whether it is a storefront or a website and have that person look around.  The theory is that once inside an individual is less likely to leave empty handed.  It’s like walking into a grocery store for one or two items and not finding them walking out with a small bag of chips or a candybar.  You really didn’t want either but you felt you had to buy something and couldn’t resist not buying.  But advertising has very definite limits.  If I go to the grocery store and always buy a particular brand of butter then seeing advertising for that brand does not cause me to want to buy more of it as I can only use so much butter.  On the other hand I may be persuaded to change brands if I perceive that there may be a difference in the quality or the price.  Perhaps I am not so much a follower of brands but a buyer of price.  What that means is that I would believe butter is a commodity  and buy at the lowest price.  The goal of an advertising campaign is to convince me that a particular brand of butter is not a mere commodity but a quality product.

But so many gurus of the new digital age have tried to convince us that online is where it’s at, to use a sixties phrase.  All shopping will be done online and all the brick and mortar stores will go the way of the 8 track player.  Well, that hasn’t happened.  In fact, what the large retailers are discovering is that some shoppers will shop online when their experience shows that what they are buying does not need to be returned and to avoid paying for shipping are willing to come to the local storefront and pick up the items.  This gives an added benefit in that one the customer is in the store they may take the time to browse and perhaps purchase another item. And if those retailers employ sophisticated logistics and supply chain analysis they can keep fewer items in the stores, reduce the footprint and thus reduce costs, and supply service that the customer wants.  Thus distribution plays a role in the marketing concept and is used in advertising.  Next day or overnight delivery.  So the use of advertising is not just about what’s for sale but how it is delivered.  Often the talk in marketing, of which advertising is only one part, is the shopping experience.  That is, the total aspect of the attractiveness of the store, the website, the manner in which the customer perceives service, including respect, and so on.  The aim is for repeat business.  Repeat business is the cash cow for it requires little advertisement expense.

That is the problem with the Hacking Advertising, the focus is not on creating cash cows.  It is merely getting the word out that company X has something for sale.  The idea that crowd sourced advertisement is a freebie as well as effective is limited.  After the initial buzz that the crowd noise creates the regular marketing plan must be employed.  Marketing is really managing the expectations of customers that advertising creates.  That is what marketing does, it plays to the expectations of potential customers through managing the product for sale by advertising expectations to the customer.  If I can get you to see that my product identifies with your expectation of what you need, desire, or want, then I have done my job.  I have created a sales opportunity.  And if I can convince you that my products meet your needs on a continuing basis I have created a cash cow.

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