Keith Bates

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One of the things I learned early in my long marketing communications career was the power of messaging over the mechanics of media. More important than how messages are distributed is their content. So before exploring the complexity of social media and the endless array of digital tools, it is important to define, and manage, the desired messaging.

In addition to my CMO On Call consulting business I started a social network for adventurers ( which acts as my social media laboratory.

* Why the African scene? Many, many years ago I was a licensed PH (professional hunter) in South Africa. The images have stuck.
Keith Bates -- CMO On Call
ITA Member


Saturday  July 16, 2011

HEGARTY ON ADVERTISING… A look into what lies behind great ideas and brilliant advertising, told by one of the industry’s leading players.


I’m reluctant to use the word “advertising” on a blog touting marketing communications in today’s world where misunderstandings have caused it to be perceived as a dirty word. But that’s because it’s thought of in the manner in which it was distributed, not the reality of what it does…which is to communicate! For the past half century it was used as monologue. In today’s social media, digitally oriented world it’s used as dialogue. It shouldn’t be defined by the media that enables it’s display but how it is used.

And the need is as great today as it ever was to turn market research into persuasive copy and art. That’s what John Hegarty shares with us. His first chapter talks about ideas, the backbone of marketing communications. I’d like to share a few, but get the book. It’s a real eye opener.

  • Ideas are what advertising is built upon. We worship them, we seek them, fight over them, applaud them and value them above everything else.
  • Creativity isn’t a process, advertising is a process.
  • Process is trying to make order out of chaos. Creativity is trying to make chaos to create order. They are at opposite ends of a spectrum.
  • But how do you know when an idea is great? And is good the enemy of great? Does a process that gets you to good hamper great? I think it probably does. The more you process it, just like food, the blander it will be.

If you’re in the business of marketing technology keep one thing in mind. Ideas spawn creativity, and creativity blends words and pictures to change beliefs in order that your prospects behavior changes. Appeals to logic rarely work unless the power behind the scenes is emotion evoking creativity. And remember, all of this effort is designed for one purpose only, to sell things! Not to make pen pals on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or elsewhere…but to sell things. I know, knowledge, content, and trust are the watchwords of today’s marketing communications. But those are just words. What determines their effectiveness are the feelings put into their distribution. Copy writers and art directors will determine your fate (assuming you have something the market wants).

DIFFERENTIATE OR DIE… or maybe just suffer poor sales!

The concept of Differentiate or Die is certainly not new. But it’s incredible how many ads and websites I come across in helping clients overcome this hurdle that are appallingly inept.


It seem so obvious that one must present their product in their marketing as unique. But most people either ignore this, or their products are not unique…which raises the bar on creativity a lot!
Jack Trout is a genius on this topic, and has been for many years. He’s been a hero of mine since 1972 when he and partner Al Ries woke up the world to the concept of Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is another way to say it.

Here’s a few principles I’ve extracted from a long-ago flyer for the TroutStrategy Institute.

Principle #1: It’s better to be first than to be better.
Principle #2: If you can’t be first set up a new category you can be first in.
Principle #3: Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products.
Principle #4: Know your competition’s position as well as your own.
Principle #5: Don’t try to be all things to all people.

Emotion and Choice (excerpt)

To get to the bottom of this argument, we went to the world of psychology to determine how emotion and reason figure in our ability to make choices.

There’s a great deal of complex and heavy material on the subject of why, of all creatures on earth, humans are the most emotional.

Richard and Bernice Lazarus, two professors of psychology at the University of California, caught our eye. In a book titled Passion and Reason (Oxford University Press, 1994), they explode many myths about emotions. One is that emotions are irrational and do not depend on thinking and reasoning. Their point: Emotion and intelligence go hand in hand.

Another important point they make is that emotions always depend substantially on reason. Their point: Emotion depends on an appraisal of personal meaning. Without meaning, without appraisal, there is no emotion.

This means that if an advertisement presents emotion and leaves out a reason to buy, all that emotion is a waste of money. There will be no appraisal.

Another psychologist, Dr. Carol Moog, put it very well: “Strictly emotional behavior, broadly speaking, occurs in very young children or severely cognitively impaired adults. Realistically assessed, rationally considered attributes, to a greater or lesser degree, contributes to all choices, and to all points of differentiation, regardless of the emotional pull, loyalty, or arousal properties of products.”

In other words, you have to give a person a reason to buy your product. We rest our case.