All marketing is one-to-one Featured

7:00pm EDT October 30, 2002
You are a business person, but you are also an American consumer, bombarded by thousands of messages trying to persuade you to act or think differently.

Given this, don't you pay more attention to ads that speak to you? Now, as if it weren't enough that ads speak to us visually, they're promising to engage our other senses as well.

They do this by giving us a directive such as "press here." Companies such as Procter & Gamble and Virgin Records are testing bus stop posters in London that emit scents of news shampoos and audio of new songs.

But back to magazine or newspaper ads. I like ads that give me a directive. That way, I can read the instruction, quickly decide if I'm interested, and either read the rest or move on.

With all of the clutter in the marketplace, it is a courtesy to get to the point. When I read things like "Get the lowest price ... " or "Come join the fun" or "Make your next event unique," I appreciate the efficiency with which the communication states the benefit to me.

I feel like the company has respected my time. Whether I need its products now or not, it has left a good impression. I will remember it ... for a while, anyway. And if it is consistent about putting a good message in front of me, I'm more likely to think of it when the right time comes.

Ads that make me work hard to get the point just make me mad. And ads that never get to the point make me even madder.

So what's my point? When planning an ad or marketing message, imagine you're face-to-face with someone and you need an opening line. Write the headline as if your prospect will walk out of the room if what you say is boring, stupid or obtuse.

If you're not a writer, hire one. If you're not a designer, hire one of those, too. But by all means, recognize that you're selling to one person at a time, even if the circulation of the publication the ad will appear in is vast. Andrea Fitting is CEO of Fitting Group, a Pittsburgh-based agency that specializes in helping companies transition to deregulated markets. Visit for more tips on marketing your business.