I was walking along the streets last weekend where shopping centres line both sides of the road. Shoppers are busy moving along the pavements, most of them having a look of satisfaction, what with the bags that they are carrying, loaded with the day’s purchases.
Suddenly, a sound to my left caught me by surprise. Turning to examine the situation further, I realise that a gentleman and a lady were standing behind some music synthesizers while speaking to the crowd walking past. It took me a minute to figure out what was actually happening. Both speakers were taking turns to give a sales pitch to passersby about the products available for sale near the counters in front of them. Apparently, they have been hired by a retail company to advertise the products that are lined in rows in front of them.
As I am waiting for a friend at the location, I decided to wait at the area. Patient at first, I begin to get affected by the sales pitch that lasted throughout the times (read: around 25 minutes) that I have spent waiting for my friend. When I turned to the throng of shoppers walking past, I see many annoyed and exasperated faces as well. It seems that the speakers’ attempted sales pitch might have backfired.
Advertisers are not only getting more visual. They are also getting louder. While we are able to have peace of mind when walking along the streets previously, sales pitches now rule the streets. Many advertisers also employ staff to stop shoppers along the road and engage them in conversation to sell their products and/or services. Cold calls from telemarketers are also on the rise. Advertisers are taking more measures to engage potential customers to communicate their products and/or services, which is not surprising considering the intense competition. Nevertheless – as consumers – we should have the freedom and flexibility to choose our products with an open mind, and make purchases based only upon a need.
This situation can similarly be observed in our daily conversations. Some of us have the perception that being loud is more effective. The term “loud” here does not refer to an increased volume while speaking but rather, it means dominating a conversation with one’s perspective on things or making an increased effort to persuade others to our point of view. And there are some of us who regard the ability to talk well and eloquently as the primary steps to success. Personally, I feel that being eloquent and articulate in one’s speech might well give others a good impression, but not much else. This is because an articulate person who speaks excellently but lacks the ability to deliver the deliverables will never be able to defeat one formidable foe: time. Over time, their credibility will eventually collapse.
Seen in this light, effective communication is neither being loud nor being able to sell something or persuade someone. Effective communication is about being able to understand someone from their perspective and giving them a fair amount of understanding and respect.
Going back to the practice of advertisers making their sales pitches from loud speakers, it can be observed that there are a few areas that advertisers should take into consideration when trying to make a sale:
- Giving respect to consumers: The fact that the speakers are speaking in a conspicuous area shows a strong intent to engage any potential customers in that space. While this increases the chances of sales transactions, it also indicates a lack of respect for the personal space of consumers. Of course, one may argue that consumers are free to walk away. Nevertheless, consumers should be given peace of mind when shopping. In addition, advertisers are making it more challenging for consumers to make purchases upon a need. In fact, more and more consumers are making purchases out of desires, which should not be encouraged.
- Reducing the noise: The term “noise” here can be defined as “”Sound or a sound that is loud, unpleasant, unexpected, or undesired (thefreedictionary.com). Indeed, making a sales pitch at a high volume can be considered to be loud. Having one’s thoughts disrupted by sudden noises is both unpleasant and unexpected. And being encouraged to buy something when one does not see a need are often considered as undesirable. Therefore, what constitutes as a sales pitch by advertisers are often considered as noise by consumers.
Traditional advertising has always emphasised about targeting potential customers based on specific demographics and psychographics. And this should be the way, since the communications are more focused and hence effective. Whatever happens to such practices?
It’s great that advertisers are adapting to changes. But let’s hope that it’s for the better.