Marketing Myths

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Advertising can get people to buy products they don't really want
by Joe Gracia

Whew! If you believe this one, then I've got a nifty, slightly used bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Since the beginning of modern commerce, people have been mystified by the art and science of advertising.

Watch You are getting sleepy . . . veeeeery sleepy
In the mid-fifties, a technique called Subliminal Advertising, was written about, where pictures of popcorn and soda were supposedly flashed on movie theater screens so fast that the human eye couldn't see them, but the subliminal, subconscious mind did.

We were told by the promoters of this technique, that after being exposed to these subliminal ads, people would begin to get up unexpectedly in the middle of the movie and walk, "zombie-like," to the concession stand to satisfy a mysterious and overwhelming desire to consume large quantities of popcorn and soda.

Folks, I've been in the marketing profession for over 25 years, and if there were any truth to such a notion, I think I would have discovered it by now.

The idea that advertising can subconsciously seduce or trick people into buying products that they don't really want is still prevalent today.

People buy things because they want them
The truth is, people don't buy the things they buy because of some overwhelming and mysterious power of advertising. They buy the things they buy for one predominant reason -- because they want them!

Just think about all of the purchases you have made in the past six months. Can you recall purchasing any items that you didn't really want, but you bought them anyway because you were overcome by a mysterious and uncontrollable urge? Not likely.

When you buy anything, you buy it because you want the benefits that the product promises to deliver to you.

The real power of advertising
As a culture, we have an insatiable appetite for products and services.

We want the benefits of food, clothing, shelter, medicine, books, games, cars, music CDs, sports equipment, make-up, perfume, hair care products, etc.

We also want the benefits of services like banking, lawn and pool service, hair styling, tax preparation, organizing, moving and pest control services, phone, electric and cable services, babysitting, dry cleaning, and photo developing services, and the list goes on and on.

We are in a constant search for products and services that will provide us with what we want.

Advertising can be very powerful in letting us know what products are available, how they can benefit us, and how we can obtain them. It can also use the power of repetition to help us remember one product brand as opposed to another. Images and sounds can also help to present the products in a professional, positive and favorable light. It can do all of these things and more.

But it cannot get us to buy things we don't want.

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