Doctors, Designs, and Marketers

Over the years, I’ve developed an eye for the designs that will work well in digital banners. Fortunately, for many of my campaigns, click rates (which are easy to measure) are a great proxy for success. For these campaigns, I can typically tell you how well a banner will perform because we’ve done a lot of A-B testing.

Other key performance indicators, such as (a) brand likeability, (b) purchase intent, and (c) share-ability are harder to test, measure, and forecast.

Because I love to run marketing “experiments” on my husband, and because it is important for me to understand how non-marketers perceive ads, I wanted to see how my husband would do at actively comparing two ad executions.

I picked a low-involvement product from a brand that he doesn’t have particularly strong feelings about, Starbucks. I then pulled two ads from, which is a great resource for seeing what your competitors & favorite brands are doing. Here are the two ads I shared with him:

Starbucks 1 Starbucks 2

Before showing these ads to the hubby, I typed out my own thoughts (below).When evaluating ads, the first thing I do is figure out the ad placement and goal. Since we cannot be sure what Starbucks was going for, let’s assume the following:

  1. These are running in across the web, not just on one site (this is important, because if they were running on just one site, I’d want them mocked in context to see how they look on that site.)
  2. The goal is to drive clicks, which would lead to in-store purchases


My thoughts:

The banner on the right is much stronger than the one of the left. It has a stronger composition with a great flow. I especially like the dark, solid background… this should help ensure the ad pops on most sites. The photo is strong and contextually relevant. The fonts feel very on-brand, which helps bring everything back to Starbucks.

The banner on the left is okay, but I just don’t think it’d be very memorable. The photo doesn’t add anything to the banner because it doesn’t make the product look “yummy” or add to the story.

The call-to-action on both ads is clear, and there is either a button or arrow next to it to encourage clicks.

(Starbucks–let me know if I got it right. Thanks!)


His thoughts:

Now for the fun part… what did the doctor/husband think? He hasn’t had any design training, nor is he interested in art/design/ads.

Me: “Tell me what you think of these two ads. Which one is better?”

Husband: “I like [the one on the right] better. The coffee looks good. Homey. Warm. [The ad is] centered. The other one looks plain, asymmetrical, plain… nothing makes me think the coffee looks awesome + Starbucks is hanging off the bottom of the page… there’s no excitement.”

Me: “If the goal is to get people to click on the ad, what should you think about?”

(Question confuses him—and, yes, he knows I am typing this and is laughing)

Husband: “Make you think about coffee. Savory appearing. Should show coffee… maybe steam… real.”

I was a bit humbled and surprised at his answers. Without using the marketing terminology, he hit on many of the same things I did. The only real area he fell short was bringing everything back to the campaign goals, placement, and target… he never thought to ask about those things. As a marketer, those are the things you should never forge… along with how savvy today’s consumers are about ads.

50% off — good or bad marketing?

The other day, I saw an online coupon for laser hair removal. Though it is a minor procedure, I definitely do not want to be using the “discount” laser or the “discount” technician. Something about the coupon made me think that the services were less valuable/safe.  Would you ever go to a doctor who has 50% off heart transplants? I sure hope not.

This prompted some thinking around discounts and when they should be used by marketers. Let’s take a look at some segments:

  1. The Discount Professional: These people consider coupon hunting their job. They are brand agnostic, because nothing is more important than the deal.  The extremist are featured on shows like TLC’s Extreme Couponing, and they are basically hoarders with no little concept of opportunity costs, but I digress…
  2. The Flexible Money-Minder: These people may change some of their shopping habits to save a few bucks. If your discounted product is truly better than the competitor, then you may have converted the buyer to a fan of your brand… however, they could easily be won back through a price war.
  3. The “Sure, I’ll pay less for that” Loyalist: These people already know what they are going to buy (brand and product). If the item is discounted, that’s just a bonus that does nothing for your brand.
  4. The Snob: To these people, discounts represent a lack of demand or quality. The value of the brand goes down with the price. These are also the people that may sample a higher priced good just because it must be better.

When you are considering discounting your product, I’d encourage your to think about the impacts on brand loyalty, perceptions, and sustainability. Once the price goes back up, will you maintain your new customer base? How frequent can you discount your product before people only expect to pay the discounted rate (and wait for it)?

And, if you are a doctor, you NEVER want to offer discounts to bring in new customers.