How to create an effective advertising campaign

Embarking on an advertising campaign is pretty tricky at best, frought with danger that can easily lead to disaster, at worst. So, like any marketing communication effort, some planning is required.

As the advertising guru, David Ogilvy said, ” you don’t stand a tinker’s chance of producing successful advertising unless you start by doing your homework.” In this post, I want to put forward some basic considerations before embarking on an advertising campaign.

Although it’s not possible to know all the elements that go into effective advertising, or to state most of these within the limitation of a blog, there are a few factors that are crucial to a successful ad campaign. Remember the old saying: one half of what I spend on advertising is wasted, the problem is which finding out which half. There will be some waste, the object is to keep this to a minimum.

To avoid as much of that waste as possible, here are some pointers to make your ad campaign work and make this a profitable exercise. If you strive to cover as many of the following actors as possible, you can be confident that you’ll have a winning campaign.

The medium is the message.

This quote from Marshall McLuhan points to the importance of choosing the right medium to convey your message. This may appear to be obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t use common sense when buying media.

Say that you’re trying to reach 14-16 year olds, don’t buy an ad in the daily paper–buy spots in the radio station that plays hip hop music, instead. Try to target your advertising as much as possible. Think about the person you’re trying to reach with your message. Your target person (or demographic, in marketing jargon) will dictate the medium you should use.

The more you know about that person, the easier this will be. If you’re selling clothing to working women, for instance, buying TV is probably not a good idea. They’re probably so busy doing household chores and taking kids to school and various activities, that they probably don’t have time to watch much TV. Again, radio may be a better choice. She’s probably on the road a lot and this medium is a good fit for that kind of audience.

Media is not necessarily how you use it.

Don’t think that everyone uses media the way you (or your spouse) does. Just because you don’t like a certain program on TV doesn’t mean that your potential customer doesn’t like it–they may be big fans and never miss an episode.

Don’t assume that everyone reads the newspaper because everyone you know does. Ask for information about the medium’s audience–let your rep show you exactly who is watching/reading/listening/driving by/surfing their medium. Try to match your target market’s typical viewer (or reader) with the medium that that person would normally view or read.

The higher the cost, the better the medium?

Don’t judge the price of the ad by the dollar amount alone. You’re not buying something like wine, where price is an indication of the quality of what you’re getting.

Just because an ad is expensive doesn’t mean it isn’t a good buy–and the the other way around. If an ad is cheap, but no one reads or sees it, it’s worthless to you. If an ad is reaching tens of thousands of people for say $1,000, it might be a good buy, if those are the people who are in the market for your product.

Try to gauge the real value of an ad by the cost per thousand or cost per rating point (for electronic media). If you’re not familiar with these terms, ask your ad rep–they will be happy to fill you in. (And if they aren’t, or can’t help you, find a new rep.)

Know your customer.

Develop a relationship with your customers and prospects. This is another thing that should be obvious, but very few companies actually do this.

Procter and Gamble has found that this is what makes them money. And it makes sense. If people trust your brand and feel that they know your company, they’re far more likely to buy your products. This is actually easier to do as a smaller business, than a large one. And, many local businesses have done this for years.

It may seem schmalzy, but when the local electonics store owner is on camera in all his (her) TV commercials, people develop a relationship of sorts with him (or her). They feel like they know that business. Anytime you can link a personality–even if it’s not a celebrity–to a business, that makes that business stand out. (Remember the old Budget ads, with Bob Ansett. And, this started before he himself became a celebrity. Likewise with Dick Smith.) Going back a few years, in the States, the guy pushing Purdue chicken on TV, or the man in the Hathaway shirt in print ads.

This is an important element that we cannot fully cover in this post. So, think this one through for your business and come up with ways (and they can be very simple) to develop a relationship with your customers and prospects. An email newsletter is a simple, cheap and very effective way to do this, by the way.

Be remembered.

You need a hook. Give people something that makes them remember you.

Big companies spend millions on this – and for a good reason – it sells product. Whatever you do, don’t say “for the best in quality and service,” no one will believe you! If you want to convey that message, have one of your customers give a testimonial on camera: have them describe how you provided them with great service and quality. Give details. This is more believable.

A hook needs to be simple, memorable and if possible, fun or heartwarming. The Vegimite girl (or kids) is a good example–you can never forget her rosy cheeks. Or, the Meadow Lea mum, who just had to be congratulated. (In the States, the Chihuahua in the Taco Bell ad is brilliant.)

Do something different and let people know about it. Give them a reason to choose your company over your competitors. And, it must be something easy to remember.

Your prospect is a person.

You sell to people. Not to someone out there in TV land. Be relevant. Talk to your prospects in your advertising. Let them know that you feel their pain and are going to help them make it go away. If you’re talking about something they can’t relate to, they’ll ignore you. They’re human, after all.

There are far too many advertising messages in the world today. And, people have learned to tune them out, unless they click with some message that is important to them. You know how this works: you do the same thing. If you’re sick of how your car is acting up lately, you suddenly are much more aware of ads for cars. Why? Because you’re thinking about cars.

So, find out why people buy your product and talk about how you will give that to them. It’s really pretty simple. But, too many businesses totally just don’t get it.

Call to action: ask for the order.

Don’t forget to ask for the order. It’s all very well to make your sales pitch, but what about a call to action? And, make sure you know what you’re trying to get your prospect to do. Do you want them to come to your store and buy a specific product? Or, do you want them to call your business to get an estimate on a project, so your sales person can close the sale in person?

The more specific you are in your call to action, the more likely your audience will do what you want them to do.

All of the elements that go into your advertising: the media, the creative, the copywriting, the call to action, create a synergy. This synergy helps not just get the message across, but to get sales.

The more you cover these points, the better your results will be. It’s also always important to measure your ad results. Determine what you want to achieve and include devices that will allow you to determine whether or not you achieved your goal.

Then you can tweak results from there for your next ad campaign.

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