Advertising must do something in order to warrant the investment you are going to make. Please don’t tell me “drive awareness”. In brand terms, we don’t make any money from awareness–we only begin to make money as we are able to move our consumer through the consideration-search-purchase stage. So, let’s save the word “Awareness” for the lazy brains. It must have an engage and have impact on consumers and influence action, either getting them to think, feel or act differently than before they saw the advertising.
The 10 things that great advertising must do
Here’s a starting point for you when you’re judging creative.
- Sets your brand apart. For brands to survive in the longer term, they must be different, better, cheaper. Or else they will not be around for very long. The story telling of the brand’s promise should help to separate the brand from the clutter of other brands that are stuck in our minds. And that starts with creative that feels different and makes the brand seem different to consumers.
- Focuses your brand! Any advertising has to have a focused target, a focused message, a focused strategy against a focused communication idea, a focused media. The whole discipline of marketing is founded on focus, and yet Brand Leaders struggle most in this area. They always want that “just in case” option. My hope is that your focus, drives the advertising. If not, once you try to squeeze all your messages into one ad targeted to everyone, I hope the failure then gets you to focus.
- Keep the communication very simple. Communication is not what is said, but what is heard. Too many brand leaders try to shout as many messages as they can in one ad. They engage in their ads as brand managers, not as consumers. When you shout many messages at the consumer, what does the consumer hear? A confusing mess. By throwing multiple messages you are just making the consumer do the work of deciding the most important message, because you couldn’t figure it out. My challenge to you is to stand up on a chair and yell your main message as though you are standing on top of a mountain. That’s how many messages your ad should have
- Have a good selling idea. While big ideas break through the clutter, they also help you project a consistent message over time over time and across mediums–paid, earned, social and search–and you’ll see it throughout the entire brand line up of sub brands. Consumers will start to connect to the big idea and they’ll begin to relate your brand with that big idea. And you’ll have a reputation in the marketplace. Look at your ad: does it have a big idea?
- Drive engagement with consumers: Too many brand leaders forget to engage the consumer. They get so fixated on saying their 7 messages that they figure the ability capture attention is just advertising fluff. But everything in advertising has to starts with attention. The consumer sees 7,000 ads a day and will likely only engage in a handful. If you don’t capture their attention, no one will remember the brand name, your main message or any other reason to believe you might have jammed into your ad.
- Let the visuals do the talking. With so many ads, you need to have a key visual that can capture the attention, link to your brand and communicate your message. The ‘see-say’ of advertising helps the consumers brain to quickly engage, follow along and remember. As kids, we always love the pictures in the books. We still do.
- Sell the solution, not the problem or the product. Consumers use brands to solve problems in their lives. Your brand will be more powerful if it beats down a consumer enemy that torments them every day. Consumers don’t care about what you do, until you care about what they need. No one has ever wanted a quarter-inch drill, they just need a quarter-inch hole to hang paintings and photos of their children.
- Matter to those who care the most. I always believe that our target should not be those who do not care, but those who care the most about what we have to offer. You can’t sell carpet cleaning to someone who only has hard wood floors. And you can’t sell a golf ball that goes 50 yards farther to someone who despises golf.
- Make ads that connect with consumers based on an insight. Consumer Insights are secrets that we discover and use to our brand’s advantage. You have to get in the consumer’s shoes, observe, listen and understand their favorite parts of the day. You have to know their fears, motivations, frustrations and desires. Learn their secrets, that only they know, even if they can’t explain. Learn to use their voice. Build that little secret into your message, using their language, so they’ll know you are talking to them. We call this little secret the consumer insight. When portrayed with the brand’s message, whether on packaging, an advertisement or at the purchase moment, the consumer insight is the first thing that consumers connect with. When consumers see the insight portrayed, we make them think: “That’s exactly how I feel. I thought I was the only one who felt like that.” This is what engages consumers and triggers their motivation and desire to purchase. The consumers think we must be talking to them, even if it looks like we are talking to millions.
- Tell the story behind the brand. There should be richness in the story behind your brand’s purpose. There is great opportunity to bring your brand purpose into your story telling. Why did you start this brand? How does your brand help people? What is your brand’s motivation that gets you up in the morning?
The ABC’S of Advertising
Another way to rephrase this list is through the ABC’S: Attention Branding Communication and Stickiness.
- Attention: You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising. Consumers see 6000 ads per day, and will likely only engage in a few. If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
- Branding: Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best. Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumers view of the brand. It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits to the climax of the ad.
- Communication: Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
- Stickiness: Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time. In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own. Brands have exist in the minds of the consumer.
Be a Better Client
If how you show up to the agency will produce better advertising work Then show up right.
Agencies should be treated like trusted partners, not suppliers. Engage them early asking for advice, not just telling them what to do and when. If you tell an agency what to do, there will only be one answer “YES”. But if you ask them what to do, there are three answers: yes, no or maybe. Seek their advice beyond advertising. Build a relationship directly with the creative teams. Be more than “just another client”.
Getting great advertising is a balance of freedom and control. Most Marketers allow too much FREEDOM on the strategy but want to exhibit CONTROL on the creative. It should be the reverse, you should control the strategy and give freedom on creative. Don’t go into a creative meeting with a pre-conceived notion as to what the ad should look like. Creative people are “in the box” problem solvers. What they don’t want a) blank canvas b) unclear problem and c) your solutions to the problem. Let them be in the box and find the solution for you. That’s what motivates them the most.
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Beloved Brands: Who are we?
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We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.
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