Advertising: Selling a Depreciating Asset

Mr. Binkley’s Chalk Talk, #102: On Advertising 

            Mr. Binkley wanders across the screen with his tripod easel under his arm. He sets it up, perhaps having a little trouble with it, “Mr. McGoo style,” then faces the audience and begins his presentation:

Mr. Binkley: “Today we’re going to talk about advertising:  why we need it, and how we do it.

I’m sure you all know about the merchandiser, John Wanamaker, who started all this back in the 1800s. Wanamaker is considered to be the father of both modern advertising and the modern department store.

You’ve never heard of “Wanamaker’s?” For shame. Go look him up.

Anyway, one day his accountant asked old Wanamaker if he thought he got a fair business return from all the money he spent on advertising. Wanamaker said no. He said, “I know that half my advertising dollars are wasted. I just don’t know which half.”

You see, Wanamaker knew the purpose of advertising was to appear in the right format and location to sell three things: First, you sell yourself. Second, you sell your company. Third, you sell your product.

And you never know who is going to sell what, where, and when. It could be a million dollar Super Bowl commercial, it could be a hundred dollar sign on a bus, it could be a two buck ball point pen with your name on it. You never know.

So – You put a smile on your face, a shine on your shoes, and you position your product in the best possible light in as many places as common sense and your budget allows.

Yes, advertising is “spin.” You want people to know all the good parts.

Let me give you an example of a true, unvarnished product statement, without any advertising spin, and then you tell me if you’d buy it.

Suppose you read this advertisement in the classified section of next Sunday’s newspaper:


“For Sale: Depreciating Asset!”


WARNING! This product will cost 10% of the value of your home. It will lose 20% of its value immediately upon purchase, and another 20% each year thereafter. In five years it will be virtually worthless.

You may have to borrow money at high interest rates and on sometimes risky contractual terms in order to buy it.

There are numerous fees and taxes associated with this purchase. These fees and taxes will continue on an annual basis over the lifetime of the product.

The product is high maintenance, fragile, and costly to operate and repair.

The product is dangerous, and owners are frequently injured and even killed by its careless operation, or by the careless operation of others.

The product’s efficacy can be negatively influenced by the weather and seasonal changes.

The rental or construction of a special building to house and protect the product is recommended.

The product requires special and costly operator training, licensing, and government inspection, forms and records.

In additional to medical insurance, costly property insurance is also required as the product is easily damaged.

You may expect police monitoring during all hours of operation.

The product is a prime target of thieves, occasionally involving personal violence.”

“Isn’t it a good thing we don’t have to sell automobiles this way?”

Mr. B. folds up the easel and mumbling, walks away.




1 Comment

Filed under Business Insights

One response to “Advertising: Selling a Depreciating Asset

  1. Pingback: Advertising: Selling a Depreciating Asset | thejokesmith - Business online

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s