This was a line I heard many times while cutting my teeth in this business with Tampa advertising icon Bob Denton at Denton Advertising. All we did was shelter advertising for large developers, like US Home, ITT Palm Coast, Westinghouse (now WCI), Ryland Homes, Seven Oaks, Cheval, and Tampa Palms to name a few. Inevitably, there would be a sales manager who wasn’t making their numbers and we as the ad agency must be to blame, right?
Wrong. Here’s how Bob would handle that. Instead of asking clients how much revenue they were making, he would ask how often they had to replace the carpeting in their sales centers. The baffled client would say, four, five or however many times they’d replaced worn carpeting. Then Bob would go on to explain that they obviously don’t have a traffic problem, what they have is a sales problem. And advertising agencies don’t have much control over sales.
Ad agencies are masters of understanding psychographics, building trust in a brand, and motivating prospects if clients give them a realistic budget to work and the freedom to roll out a compelling campaign. In the case of large developments, we threw every tool we had in our kit at them – from TV to outdoor, newspaper inserts to direct mail. Because it was our job to deliver qualified bodies to the sales center. Once there, it was up to the sale team to close them.
On the digital side, I work with a proven studio in Philadelphia called Push 10 Design Studios. They recently had a client question poor sales on an e-commerce store they designed. Even though the Pay-Per-Click campaigns were generating a lot of qualified traffic, conversions were not happening at the rate the client wanted. Push 10 gave their “replace your carpeting” pep talk to the client, and pointed out the many factors required to close a sale, of which Push 10 had control over only a few.
For instance, it was Push 10’s job to generate traffic via PPC campaigns, design the site professionally to build legitimacy and trust, make it easy to use, and provide a simple, error-free checkout process. The client on the other hand was responsible for providing the right Google Adwords budgets to work with, offering compelling products, providing professional photography that makes the products appealing, competitive pricing, and special incentives like free shipping.
Point being…no matter how stunning the website, how easy it is to use, or how able to generate traffic, if the products, imagery, pricing, return policies, and purchasing experience is not up to par with the look and functionality of the site, sales will suffer.
So if you’re thinking that your advertising or marketing isn’t working because your sales aren’t where you want them to be, ask yourself, ‘when’s the last time I replaced my carpeting?’ Whether it’s a Berber on the floor of a retail space or a virtual storefront on the World Wide Web, if you’re getting traffic but not reaching your sales goals, then perhaps you’re focusing on the wrong targets, your team might benefit from some training, there’s brand confusion, or you’re trying to be too many things to too many people.
But the good news is that ample traffic is a good thing. You’re then 9/10ths of the way to making the sale.