How reason why came to be

In the beginning was the Word. And it was good. Star copywriters wrote rhapsodies of elegant prose about their clients’ products and services and some people even read that prose. (People had a lot more time in those days.) Early pioneers like Charles Bates and John Powers embraced an advertising approach that focused on giving the reader a reason why they should buy their client’s product rather than somebody else’s product. This approach was fully exploited by John E. Kennedy, who called it “salesmanship in print.” He codified the approach in a book entitled “Reason Why Advertising,” and salesmanship in print has gone by that name ever since.

Advertising no longer consists primarily of words on paper. However, we believe that the underlying concept of basing marketing decisions on a deep understanding of the audience and respect for their decision-making process is even more relevant today than it was when men wearing fat ties and fedoras wrote out long ads on yellow pads with #2 pencils. Today’s marketing world is filled with colorful graphics, clever slogans, and high fashion. However, the simple and expensive reality is that pretty pictures and glib headlines are not functional substitutes for clear thinking and finely tuned strategy. Stunning creative is only brilliant when it serves legitimate marketing objectives.

Reason Why Marketing is the modern progeny of Kennedy’s brainchild. At SNA, we have expanded the scope and doubled-up on the rigor of the original concept. Applied to the entire spectrum of marketing options, it demands clear thinking and finely tuned strategy for every detail of the marketing and communications program. It demands accountability and a reasonable objective for every dollar a client spends on the marketing enterprise.

Applied to advertising and other communications vehicles, Reason Why Marketing is based on proven marketing and psychological principles. The approach focuses on eliciting a specific response—the often-neglected “call to action.” The call to action is not simply “buy the product.” It is a specific action you want the prospective customer to take. Reason Why Marketing is designed to persuade the customer to take a specific action that moves him or her along the path to a sale or reinforces continued use of the product. The specific action may be “Visit our booth at the ACOG Conference.” It may be “Ask your doctor if Viagra is right for you.” For existing customers, it could be “Learn to use your EpiPen self-injector correctly.”

Our strategic recommendations focus on identifying the specific call to action for every marketing vehicle and developing an effective Reason Why the audience should take that action. Our creative executions focus on delivering the Reason Why with power, simplicity, immediacy, and relevance.

Reason Why Marketing is not easy to do. It requires hard work and focused thinking on the part of both the agency and the client. Even agencies that talk about it usually fall back on the “unique selling proposition” and other less-disciplined approaches when it comes time to produce advertising and marketing materials. We try really hard not to let ourselves—or our clients—fall into that trap. We don’t do it to torture our clients. We do it because Reason Why Marketing typically produces results substantially beyond conventional communications strategies—and producing results is why we’re all here in the first place.

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