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Volkswagen’s Adverts Have a Message for Us All

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I particularly like the current campaign of Volkswagen television commercials. They feature a range of ordinary people hunting for a bargain, and finding it in a number of inadvisable situations. From budget shark diving to discount parachutes, special offer climbing ropes and cut-price laser eye surgery, the adverts perfectly sum up an old adage which many of us seem to have lost focus on since the recession caused a return to penny scraping attitudes.

You get what you pay for

As someone working in marketing I can attest to the truth behind this statement. Marketing is all about investment: a small investment will yield a small return. It’s not an area you can cut corners in, yet many companies still try.

Over the past few years I’ve encountered many people trying to make money without spending any. I’ve seen businesses wanting thousands of words worth of content per month, yet expecting to pay rates that equate to lower than the minimum wage to the writer unlucky enough to get saddled with the task. I’ve had people suck air in through their teeth at the idea of spending hundreds of pounds on website copy, forgetting the fact that it can be one of the major differences between a bounce and a conversion.

Sometimes it is understandable that people are a little wary with their cash. The recession has caused us all to look for better bargains. Is one of the reasons behind the approach Volkswagen have taken with these new commercials. We do tend to think mostly about price. But there is something far more important that we are overlooking, to our own detriment: value.

What is it worth to you?

The most uncomfortable thing to see is when you come across a company whose product or service price is incredibly high trying to get away with paying minimum rates for copy, design, and marketing. Perhaps it is because – and this applies much more to copy than the other two – they often seen as extras. Copy is the proverbial cherry on the cake, or the engraved message on a new watch. It’s not obligatory or important, it just adds a nice touch.

This is not the case, and when copy is considered as part of the cost of sale you can see how easily it gets paid for by the additional revenue it generates. Copy, rather like footballers, is charged not on what it is, but on the value it brings in. The same with marketing. A sales letter that brings in £10,000 worth of extra business is clearly worth paying £1,000 for. Conversely, a £10 sales letter is unlikely to be written with the skill, attention to detail, or passion to even pay for itself.

In racing terms cutting corners is a good thing. When it comes to marketing, cutting corners is like cutting a square cake into circular portions – you’re going to lose out on a lot of cake.

Which is why the Volkswagen advert is not just about showing how the price of their vehicles is intrinsically linked to the quality, but also about the importance of prioritising value over cost when it comes to our businesses.

How you assess the value of your marketing activities? Do you have a clear idea of what you are getting back from your investment?


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