Advertising is impersonal, usually paid communication intended to inform, educate, persuade and remind.
Advertising is a sophisticated form of communication that must work with other marketing tools and business elements to be successful. Advertising must be interruptive — that is, it must make you stop thumbing through the newspaper or thinking about your day long enough to read or hear the ad. Advertising must also be credible, unique and memorable in order to work.
And finally, assuming the actual advertising is built upon a solid positioning strategy, enough money must be spent to provide a media schedule for ad frequency, the most important element for ad memorability.
Word-of-mouth advertising: Word-of-mouth advertising has existed as long as mankind has communicated and traded goods and services. Word-of-mouth advertising is considered the most effective form. Word-of-mouth has the desired qualities of strong credibility, high audience attention levels and friendly audience reception. It features open-ended conversation with questions and answers about the product, psychological incentives to purchase, memorability, efficiency and frequency. Word-of-mouth advertising passes product information to many other potential buyers (and may even include promotional trial demonstrations and free sampling), at little or no cost to the business. Whenever possible, a small business should build an advertising program that results in word-of-mouth advertising! Satisfied customers are your best advertisements.
In some respects, typical media advertising (e.g., the Miller Light "less filling/more taste" ads) acts only as a catalyst to achieve word-of-mouth advertising and increased sales. Successful advertising will achieve many times more ad mentions through word-of-mouth than the number of paid media presentations of the ads.
Here are some guidelines for creating memorable advertising that really sells:
Make sure your ads are "on strategy" with yourbusiness positioning. A good positioning strategy ensures identification of the correct target audience for your advertising, along with a listing of meaningful features and benefits. It can provide reasons why the product is superior and unique, along with an advertising "personality."
Communicate a simple, single message. People have trouble remembering someone's name, let alone a complicated ad message. Use the "KISS" principle for ad messages: "Keep it simple, Simon." For print ads, the simpler the headline, the better. And every other ad element should support the headline message, whether that message is "price," "selection," "quality" or any other single-minded concept.
Stick with a likable style. Ads have personality and style. Find a likable style and personality and stay with it for at least a year or more of ads. Changing ad styles and personality too often will confuse potential buyers. It also fights against memorability.
Be credible. If you say your quality or value is the "best" and it is clearly not, advertising will speed your demise, not increase your business. Identifying and denigrating the competition should also be avoided. It is potentially confusing and distracting and may backfire on you by making buyers more loyal to competitive products, not less.
Ask for the sale. Invite buyers to come to your store, send for more information, or call for information and orders in the ad. Provide easily visible information in the ad for potential customers to buy: location, telephone number, store hours, charge cards accepted, etc.
Make sure the ad is competitive. Do your homework. Examine competitive ads in the media that you are planning to advertise in. Make sure your ad stands out from competitive ads. You can use personal judgment, ad test exposures to a small group of target buyers (i.e., qualitative research), or more expensive, sophisticated quantitative test methods. Compare ads for uniqueness, memorability, credibility and incentive to purchase.
Make sure the ad looks professional. If you have the time and talent, computer graphics and desktop publishing software can provide professional-looking templates to create good-looking print ads. Consider obtaining writing, artistic and graphics help from local agencies or art studios who have experienced professionals on staff, with expensive and creative computer software in-house. They may save you time and money in the long run, with better results. Electronic ads (e.g., TV, radio, Internet) and outdoor ads are best left to professionals to write, produce, and buy for a fee or percentage of media dollars spent (i.e., generally 15 percent of gross media spending).
Be truthful. Whatever advertising medium you select, make sure your message is ethical and truthful. There are stringent laws regarding deceptive practices and false advertising.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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