He who mounts a wild elephant goes where the wild elephant goes.
– Randolph Bourne

It amazes me how often I hear “I tried that.  It doesn’t work” They never question the ad, instead they blame the media. To think like this is like saying “I’ll never travel by car again.  The last time I did I ended up stranded on the side of the road.”  Cars need gas, and so do your ads.

Our emotion often goes where it wants even when our reason tells us it’s a bad idea.  You prove this theory every time you have that extra cookie, choose another cup of coffee over a morning run or when you answer your wife, “yes, you do look fat in those jeans.”

The Heath brothers tell us in their latest book that the sensible part of us is like a rider on an elephant and the elephant is our emotions.  To get our elephant to go where the rider wants it to go, he must find an emotional bag of peanuts for the elephant to follow.

If other businesses are using direct mail/radio/internet…  as a marketing vehicle month after month, my guess is that they have a good message or a compelling offer.  If your efforts in these same media came up short, you should look at your ad as the reason your campaign ended up stalled on the side of the road.

It is hard for us to accept that something we spent hours creating to attract new customers would not work, so we justify its failure by blaming the media choice.   Emotions like to point blame but sensible person learns to accept it.

In my experience a good message works no matter what media you use.  The challenge is finding that good message.

Running a business makes a person uniquely unqualified to promote their business.  Their emotions create too many false opinions.  Thomas Jefferson once gave this advice; The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.” That’s good advice.  An outsider will always have a more objective look at your business and ideas that an insider.  The most successful businesses are run by those who stay close to the outside or hire people to stay on the outside.

When developing your next ad, find what bag of peanuts your customers elephants will want to follow.  And then give their sensibility a reason to agree with the elephant.   It won’t matter what media you use.  A good bag of peanuts will lead to lots of pots of gold.