The Root Cause
Maddy would not sleep. At eighteen months, she has simply decided that being awake all the time is the best course of action and so she refuses to go to bed. Her father, Josh, loves Maddy very much and he knows that she must get the proper amount of sleep to grow strong and be healthy, so he desperately tries to get her to sleep. The first thing he tries is putting her to bed when he and his wife go to bed at 11 p.m. His theory is that when Maddy sees that everyone in the house is getting ready for bed and then going to sleep, she'll want to be a part of that program.
But, Maddy does not want to be a part of that program so she keeps getting out of her bed. This causes Josh to lose patience and he raises the side of the crib so Maddy is imprisoned in a cushiony 2' x 4' cell. Maddy's answer is to cry hysterically while Josh and his wife lay on their backs staring at the ceiling and listening to the shrieks over the baby monitor. Not being one to allow his daughter to become hysterical and cry herself to sleep, Josh takes her out of the crib and lays down on the couch with her on his chest until she falls asleep from exhaustion. This goes on for several weeks with small variations.
Josh is exhausted and the guy next to him on the elliptical at the gym sees this and inquires about Josh's health. Josh tells the elliptical neighbor about the demon child that is living in his house and the gym buddy tells Josh that the problem is that Maddy is not tired. He advises Josh to wear Maddy out so she can't wait to get in bed at night. So, Josh starts taking Maddy to the park immediately after dinner. There, he makes her run wind sprints while he times her with a stopwatch. He hangs her on the monkey bars until she falls off into his arms. Repetitions up the ladder and down the slide follow until wary Mothers start to look on disapprovingly and Josh heads home with Maddy tucked under his arm.
Does Maddy sleep? No, she does not.
At the grocery store, Josh runs into a neighbor that asks about how it's going. Josh describes the bane of his existence and the neighbor tells him that the problem is that Maddy is over-tired. She recommends a soothing evening of story telling in a dimly lit room. That makes sense to Josh so he stops the physical fitness training and promotes a calm, serene household with story telling by candle light. Maddy loves the stories but she still doesn't sleep.
Another friend suggest Benadryl immediately after dinner but Josh realizes that this is from someone who drinks seven Jack and Diets every night. Obviously, that guy is no expert.
Other neighbors say to get Maddy off sugar while some suggest a lot of sugar so when the effects wear off she crashes onto her mattress. Josh tries both with no success.
Josh is beside himself. His marriage is frazzled; his work is suffering and his child is definitely not getting any bigger or healthier. He decides to take his unique bundle of joy to a pediatric nurse to find out what is wrong with her and to see if maybe she had been switched at birth with his real daughter. The nurse listens to Josh's stories and then checks Maddy and then she says this:
"I know that you love Maddy and that you would do anything for her. From what you've told me, you've solicited advise from several people and tried everything and I suppose you'll want me to congratulate you on your efforts. But, I'm going to tell you that there is nothing wrong with Maddy. The problem is you and everything you're doing. You've made the sleep issue much, much worse."
The nurse went on to tell Josh that what babies need is a very specific routine. They wake up at this time and eat at this time and nap at this time, etc. By changing Maddy's routine every couple of weeks, Josh made it nearly impossible for Maddy to go to sleep. He made the problem worse.
Josh was dumb founded. How was it possible to care so deeply and ask for lots of advice and try everything and make a problem worse? Simple:
You can't solve a problem if you don't know its root cause.
Would you be surprised to learn that Maddy's story is an allegory for the typical broadcast media seller? Media sellers care deeply about their clients and they seek advice from whomever is willing to offer it (but rarely experts) and then they recommend solutions to advertiser's problems that simply make matters worse.
"You need a three frequency."
"Next time, try a strong tactical offer."
"Always repeat your phone number at least three times in a radio ad."
"Show your location on your TV ad so people will know how to get there."
"Only buy the top-rated stations or networks."
"Tell them you're family-owned and operated."
Everything about the way broadcast media is sold is handed down from one generation of sellers to another without any evidence whatsoever that the advice being given is based on the science of consumer behavior.
Media sellers almost always make things worse for their advertising clients because they don't know how advertising works. As a result, advertisers commoditize our offerings and treat our sellers as ad vendors instead of advertising experts. Worse, they give up on our medium and tell everyone "they tried it and it didn't work."
The Academy of Marketing is out to change that. Our goal is to fundamentally change the way broadcast media is bought and sold and we're going to do it by converting one seller at a time from the old definition of AE to the new one - Advertising Expert.