There’s a lot more to a successful advertisement than most people realize. From the content to the presentation, designing an effective advertisement is a tough process that requires a combination of analytical thinking and artistic creativity.
In this guide, you’ll learn five advertisement techniques used by the world’s most successful brands and direct response marketers. From evocative imagery to quick, short, and simple action-focused ads, discover the five keys to great advertising.
Whether you’re designing a magazine ad or an online search ad, any advertisement is only successful within the context of a greater marketing strategy. Our Marketing Strategy course will show you how to design a marketing plan for your business.
Tell a story about your brand
Which company do you think spends more on advertising: Apple, or Microsoft? As big as Apple’s advertising budget might seem, it’s less than half of what Microsoft spends every year on advertising.
Despite this discrepancy, we remember Apple’s ads – from the 1984 commercial to the famous Think Different campaign – far more than Microsoft’s. This is because an Apple ad isn’t just about selling products; it’s about telling a story about the brand.
Nike uses a similar strategy. How many Nike ads do you see about shoes? Very few, if any. Instead of advertising its shoes, Nike advertises a story about its values and principles, focusing on athletic excellence instead of its latest product.
If your goal is to build a memorable brand – one that consumers will recommend to their friends and feel emotionally attached to – you should focus on telling a story in your advertising, instead of just talking about your latest product.
Do you want to learn more about branding? Enroll in our course, A Walk Through Branding, to learn the secrets of creating a powerful brand that your audience will support and respond to.
Own a word, phrase, or characteristic
Skilled advertisers know the value of owning a word. Everything Facebook creates, from it mobile app to its homepage, features the word “Connect.” Google’s company name – a misspelling of a numerical value – has become a memorable verb.
Owning a word is a fantastic way to position your brand as a leader within its field or industry. In the 1990s, FedEx owned the word “Overnight.” Today, “Photoshop” isn’t just an application’s name – it’s a neologism for an obviously edited image.
Make your advertising memorable by focusing on a word, whether it’s your brand name or a specific quality of your business. This way, consumers will think of your brand when the word you’ve targeted pops into their mind.
You can even use words to distinguish yourself from competitors. Subway used its “Eat Fresh” slogan not just to attract the attention of customers, but to distance its food, which is made fresh on the spot, from its fast food competitors.
Owning a word, phrase, or characteristic is one of the most effective strategies for positioning your business. Learn how to make your brand stand out from the rest and stay in your audience’s mind with our Mastering Product Positioning course.
Inspire direct, instant action
Not all advertisements aim to be memorable. In fact, some ads are designed for a short, sharp, instant reaction instead of long-term memorability. This strategy is known as direct response advertising, and it can be remarkably effective.
Direct response advertising is any type of advertising designed to inspire you to take immediate action. An infomercial, for example, inspires viewers to order the product being demonstrated on TV. A banner ad inspires users to ‘Click Here!’
Unlike branding, which is subjective and difficult to measure, direct response ads are easy to track and monitor. Using online analytics software or separate phone numbers for each ad, it’s easy to track the sales your campaign produces.
Because of this, direct response advertising is a great choice for selling products in the short term, especially if you have a low budget. Since it’s so easy to measure the results of a direct response campaign, you can easily scale it to improve results.
Learn more about direct response advertising by enrolling in our Fundamentals of Direct Marketing: Practices That Profit course. In over 12 lectures, you’ll learn the basics of developing effective direct response ads that produce instant sales.
Generate leads, not direct sales
Is your product expensive, complicated, or difficult to sell in a 60-second TV ad or small online banner? Some products are easier to sell to an audience that’s warm and interested, instead of one that’s cold and unfamiliar with your product.
Lead generation is a marketing strategy that’s focused on building an audience for your product instead of generating rapid sales. A lead generation ad asks someone for their name and email, instead of their address and credit card information.
After your advertisement captures their contact information, your marketing team can reach out via email or over the phone to warm up the lead, assess their needs, and move them closer and closer to the sale.
Lead generation is a particularly effective form of advertising for businesses with business-to-business (B2B) products. It’s also a great technique for selling luxury items or expensive things like houses, vehicles, and subscription services.
Learn more about effective lead generation techniques with our course, Online Sales Funnel for Beginners. From designing landing pages to nurturing your leads, this in-depth course will teach you the fundamentals of a great lead generation campaign.
Turn weaknesses into strengths
In 1959, Volkswagen faced several problems. The American car market was growing at a rapid pace, but its most popular car was exactly what families didn’t want: a tiny car with little power, minimal storage space, and a design with Nazi origins.
Instead of giving up on America, Volkswagen hired ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach to create what became the 20th century’s most memorable ad campaign. Rather than trying to compensate for the Beetle’s weaknesses, the Think Small campaign made them its biggest strengths.
Small and light, the Beetle had better fuel economy than American cars. Its outdated design wasn’t a weakness, but a benefit: since Volkswagen spent less time updating the car’s exterior, it could spend more time refining the engine and interior. Every aspect of the campaign focused on the car’s weaknesses and made them strengths.
This type of creative reframing is a great way to answer the questions of consumers before they can ask them. Admit your product’s flaws up front, and then turn them around so that they’re no longer flaws, but unique features and benefits that make your product even more desirable.
Marketing expert Al Ries refers to this as the Law of Candor. When you admit one of your product’s negatives, your prospects will think of positives for you. Use your ads to neutralize objections to buying your product by turning them around and using them to your benefit.
This principle is one of the most important laws of persuasion. Learn how you can persuade your audience to support your company, buy your products, or invest in your success by enrolling in our course, The Power of Persuasion.
Would you like to learn more about advertising?
These five techniques will help you build a persuasive, memorable, and effective ad campaign with ease, but they’re certainly not all there is to advertising. From social media to search marketing, advertising is a diverse and interesting discipline.
Are you just getting started as an advertiser? Read our blog post on designing great ads and enroll in our course, Cheap Advertising Ideas for Small Business, to discover simple strategies that you can use to advertise your business on a small budget.