31 Flavors Are Better Than 1

The other day I walked into an ice cream shop. I was excited to try a few different flavors: new stuff, stuff that I’d never tried before. One of the joys of walking into an ice cream shop is that we get to try, or test, different flavors. After all, how would we know if we like a flavor it if we don’t try it, right?

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To my surprise and utter disappointment I discovered that this ice cream shop only had one flavor. Literally ONE flavor. They said it was their best seller. (It took everything I had to point out that with only one flavor, it had better be your best seller...but I digress). That single flavor they offered wasn't a flavor I liked. It didn't have any appeal for me. In fact, the thought of that flavor made me kind of ill.

I tell you that to tell you this: advertising creative and an ice cream shop with 31 flavors have way more in common than you might think.

OK, am I experiencing a sugar high? You’re probably wondering how I can connect these two together. Don’t sweat it, I promise you, I’m getting there.

An ice cream shop has more than one flavor because different flavors appeal to different consumers. I'll repeat that: different consumers like different flavors.

So, if that’s true for ice cream flavors (and let's agree that it is) why do we assume that everyone likes the same flavor of ad creative?

That’s damn near insanity.

And, yet countless times of day, every day, I am served ads from businesses that seem to only offer one flavor of messaging. I ignore their message because they don't have a flavor I like. Eventually, I go from passively ignoring them to realizing I despise their single flavor. And, then...if I keep seeing those ads, I might end up on an overly dramatic high horse texting a friend with the caps lock about how they can't tell me what to eat for the rest of my life. (I try to avoid getting that dramatic, but it's happened.)

The reason we test different creative or use different creative is that different people have different tastes. 

Let's say I serve a funny ad to someone who has no sense of humor. Or, a serious ad to someone with a silly or irreverent streak. Chances are those ads, because they're mismatched, will have zero impact on my target audience. And that ends up netting a bad return for me.

They say, "variety is the spice of life" and this holds true when it comes to advertising.

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People come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Ice cream comes in a wide variety of flavors. Paint comes in thousands of shades. Your ads should have different flavors and colors too, otherwise, your target audience is down to that one person who likes your one flavor (and only that one flavor).

In order to grow your business, you need to reach a variety of audiences. In order to reach those audiences, you need a variety of messages and messaging styles. If you disagree, you’re selling one flavor of ice cream in a doomed business.

Just because you like vanilla, don't think the rest of the world does too.


Ken ‘Spanky’ Moskowitz

founder & ceo