From Euphrasia on December 29th, 2008 in General Remodel
A friend asked me recently where I got my home improvement ideas, and how I knew whether any given product source was reputable. She had just had a window coverings rep come to her home to give her estimates for a variety of blinds and drapery projects, and she felt a bit overwhelmed with all the options.
When we met for coffee, my friend had a small stack of product brochures in hand, provided by the rep, whose company carried the various lines advertised in the brochures. “She opened one glossy brochure after another, showing me all the benefits and promises, and the beautiful color photographs highlighting the apparent quality of the offerings.
Her first inclination was to groan at the cost, but to go for the most expensive products. I asked her why. And as we talked, it was clear that she’d been influenced not only by the quality of the product literature, but by the ads for the companies whose names she recognized… why? Because of their ads! In magazines and newspapers and the Internet.
I asked her if she had asked the rep who had come to give the estimates for his advice. She said that she had, and that he had actually recommended a couple of the more moderately priced lines. I told her that in my opinion, that type of professional advice is worth at least as much or more as all the ads and brochures, because the professional who sells – and installs – various product lines will know a lot more about them than what can be seen in a brochure or magazine ad.
This conversation about product lines segued into a conversation about the power of advertising to influence purchasing decisions – which, of course it does! That’s the reason the advertising industry is so successful, and why advertising companies have research departments whose function is to track trends, consumer spending, and the results of various ad campaigns.
Knowing that we’re all influenced by advertising is not a bad thing to keep in mind. It can help you stay a little more neutral about your findings, even when the ads are so effective that you’ve got yourself geared up for over-spending, as my friend did. Our conversation helped her weigh the rep’s professional advice into her decision-making process, as well as a more realistic look at her budget.
Ads are wonderful in lots of ways – they inform, educate, titillate, and entertain. They can be very useful. With the truth-in-advertising laws governing advertiser offers and behavior, ads can be reliable sources of information as well. But don’t let ads snow you – especially when you can get good advice in other ways, such as getting free estimates from professionals in any given field. Or, in some cases, just talking with a friend.