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
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
Make sure your ads are "on strategy" with your business 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
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
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.