Welcome to the Bad Ass Marketer, In today’s post, we’ll exam how one famous quote transformed advertising into a cesspool of laziness and lack of accountability.
Our story begins with John Wanamaker, born in Philadelphia in 1838. John monkeyed around with a few retail store concepts before founding the first department store in 1872. Wanamaker, badass marketer thru and thru, understood that he could do a maximum hose job on his customers by centralizing a wide variety of goods and services under one roof.
In his precursor to the modern Shopping Mall, Wanamaker put everything from a Ford dealership to the world’s largest pipe organ. The man had a flair for promotion, and he was swell to his employees.
So what the hell went wrong?
Wanamaker said the following 17 words, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” He invented the excuse advertisers and marketers have used for decades to explain away their weak assed results.
Two observations: 1. It’s hard to believe Wanamaker was just wasting half his money. Those ads were dogs. And 2. The power repetition, not necessarily based in fact, has to wear down our intellect, like “we’re making progress in Iraq,” “I did not bet on baseball,” and “tree hugger nut jobs invented global warming.”
Badass Marketers understand the power of repetition and manipulate it. That’s ok as long as the thing being repeated isn’t stupid. Now Wanamaker was a badass marketer, but he didn’t have Arbitron data, or Nielsen ratings to target his ads to factory workers, housewives, or farmers.
Back then, flushing just 50% of his budget down the crapper made him hot stuff.
But here’s the rub: it’s not freaking okay now, so stop quoting Wanamaker, and making the guy redline rpms in his pine box. Today’s media has easily measurable components: click thrus, downloads, time spent with a game, repeat visits, or ROI from ecommerce. If you aren’t engaging this information in a meaningful way, and you aren’t driven to improve those numbers, go to Wal-Mart and become a freaking Greeter.
It’s time for a new mantra for a new age in marketing,
Like, “50 percenters are losers.”