Marketing and advertising have been around as long as there have been vendors, customers and wares, and marketing strategies have had to evolve along with these mediums. There are so many different ad styles and approaches, especially in these days of viral marketing, that it might leave one wondering what makes one method more effective than another. The answer lies in the keys to effective advertising:
Know Your Audience
A key component to reaching potential customers is knowing both who they are and what they care about. Likewise, you have to craft your ad to match the existing interests of your ideal customer. Axe Body Spray has long understood its target: a hormonally-charged demographic of males in their late teens and early twenties. Just take a look at “Susan Glenn,” a story of a love that never was due to the hesitation of adolescent timidity, a feeling its demographic likely knows all too well. Our hero in the commercial (portrayed with a tongue-in-cheek appeal by Kiefer Sutherland) realizes that the Axe product was perhaps all that stood in the way of him obtaining his dream girl, a mentality that viewers will more than likely adopt after viewing.
Elicit an Emotional Response
It’s not enough to coldly present the audience with information about your product and expect them to sleep in a tent for the weekend to buy it on day one. By creating an essence that is emotionally relatable when associating a thought or moment with a brand, consumers will subconsciously associate those positive feelings with the brand and merchandise; it’s science. Coca-Cola has been around for more than a century, yet it consistently innovates its brand to stay relevant. Look at this ad, titled “Small World Machines,” that they released about connecting two countries suffering from sixty years of strife. Coca-Cola products are shown as a uniting, positive force, presenting big ideas and peaceful motives for a small, humble little bottle of soda pop.
In addition to knowing and understanding an audience, and getting them to feel something, remembering the context of your message is also equally vital. An ad with a silly or sarcastic tone might not be an appropriate fit if it runs on a network with more dramatic content. Similarly, if the context is, say, the Olympics, then anything that emphasizes nations, togetherness and sheer determination would fit succinctly in between the athletics. Procter & Gamble released an ad called “Thank You, Mom” that celebrated Olympians and the mothers who supported them. The emotional depth that this commercial reaches lets viewers know that P&G values family, something they can commiserate with that will stick with them all the way to the market.
This is easily the most important part of a successful commercial, telling your viewers to do something. Showing off your company’s accomplishments and products is fine, but at the end of the day, getting someone to make a purchase is the main reason these ads exist, which is something a lot of marketers lose sight of. So tell consumers to go online and order theirs today. Direct them to your store; tell them to stop by and speak to you in person or on the phone. Give them a task that relates to purchasing from you. Bank of America released a Super Bowl ad that accomplished all the caveats on this list, with special attention to the call-to-action. The company devoted time to telling viewers what to do, how long to do it, and how it would benefit them and others. Bank of America gives viewers something of value for free and also commits to a very philanthropic act. It’s the “we’re the good guys” approach. If people know Bank of America cares about the battle against the AIDS virus, there’s a greater chance of them believing BofA cares about them as well.
The techniques used by the big companies are the same fundamentals that can be applied by the little guy. Know what you’re trying to say, why you’re trying to say it, how it should make people feel and when and where they will feel it. Then give them something to do with all the feelings you’ve provoked. Your advertising will be much more effective if you can nail down all of these techniques in your next ad.
Camille McClane is a writer and researcher who enjoys creating content on a range of topics, including tech, social media, marketing and video production. She hopes you enjoy this article, and is honored to be among such great contributors here at ViralGains!