(subtitled: What Have You Done For Me Lately?)
While not all advertising we see, hear, taste, smell or feel makes us better people after the experience, all of it is felt at some level—if it can pierce through the marketing mayhem and reach into our spheres of awareness, that is. So how do you break through the noise and get noticed? One of the best ways is to bring value first.
In addition to the two reasons we engage in most marketing—to persuade and to establish your brand within the minds and hearts of your audience—there are at least two ways to provide greater value in your communications: by informing and by entertaining.
Ads that inform or educate their audience goes beyond the typical this-is-who-we-are and this-is-what-we-do messages. It is easy to spot these latter types. They usually are fairly dull and they all end in “buy our stuff.”
However, if you take the time to bring value to your audience in the form of education, now that buy-our-stuff call-to-action becomes much more likely. For example, a television ad for a high-speed Internet company may eloquently educate its audience on a fairly complex problem: bandwidth issues and how they affect online performance. In the opening scene, colorful squares (described as bits of data) containing moving videos, pictures and text fly by the viewer in harmony with classical music. As the squares move into the horizon, they join hundreds of other such squares in a darkening, swirling funnel. As more and more squares join the funnel, the music slows, the motion slows and the narrator makes the point: all this information bogs down your Internet performance. The solution, of course, is to use this company’s high-speed Internet service, whereby the bottom of the funnel drops out and all the colorful squares are allowed to rush through, unimpeded, presumably to your computer and into your waiting arms. The ad wraps up with “buy our stuff.”
This makes for a simple and brilliant ad that both teaches and promotes—all in 30 seconds.
Another way to provide value to an audience is to entertain. A dramatic or funny story engages the audience and flexes the imagination. Creativity and fun are elements we all need, so providing a story within your marketing message can go a long way toward delivering your idea. The danger here, however, is losing the message in the story. If the story or comedic skit fails to resonate loudly enough with the core message, you may succeed in entertaining them but you may also be left wondering about your conversion rate—or lack thereof.
May an ad that is informative also entertain, and vice versa? Absolutely; the strongest ads likely do both. Knowing what you hope to accomplish prior to creating the ad will help you raise your chance of being on target with your marketing message and thereby increase your chance for success.
As you draft your next television, radio, print or web ad, seek opportunities to build more dimension into your marketing communications. What story could bring more impact to your message? How might you educate your audience in a succinct and compelling way? What additional value might you bring to the brief, fragile moment where you have been granted your audience’s attention? Bring value to your message and you increase the chances of holding that moment in your hands just a little longer.
Remember: The longer you engage them, the more likely they are to remember you, refer you and reconnect with you. The more they do this, the more likely you will make the sale.
[Insert “buy our stuff” message here.]