Brand Advertising Techniques


The advertising techniques I discuss here are mentioned as advertising appeals in my article on advertising strategy. Here, I want to discuss these in a bit more detail as well as provide sample creative ads from leading brands around the world. Some musicians say that all music has already been written and whatever music is composed nowadays is actually rearrangements of old compositions and melodies. It is similar in advertising as most advertising techniques are not new in themselves but are applied in new and creative ways with new gimmicks.

Advertising Techniques


In looking at advertising, what it boils down to in the most simple of terms is conveying a central idea using creativity so as to generate an emotional reaction and attract the widest attention. The idea is connected with your product or service and is usually a key selling point or differentiator. The purpose of your ad is to grab the attention of your audience and leave them with a distinct positive impression about your offering that they will retain. In looking at the following ad examples showcasing the various advertising techniques I discuss, you will notice the simplicity and power of these ads in conveying a central key idea.


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Your Product, Service or Brand

Advertising Techniques


The most basic of advertising techniques is simply showcasing your product, service or brand name itself in an attractive light. Examples of this are glossy catalog pictures or this Adidas ad. Compared to the relatively drab “ordinary” world, seeing a bright and shiny product or service ad or logo makes it seem very appealing. With brand promotion, it goes without saying that you need to have a recognized brand name to begin with if that is all you are advertising (note that the Adidas ad contains all sorts of creative tie-ins to sports themes and is not just attractive to look at!).


Offers

Advertising Techniques


Another set of standard advertising techniques is to provide your customers with an offer or incentive to buy from you (or to act). Unless you are providing your customers with a foolproof reason to purchase your product or service, you are really wasting your time if you think about it. A powerful way to do this is to come up with a compelling offer which makes it hard – if not impossible! - for them to resist your sales and marketing message. Offers are often for a limited time in order to create urgency and common examples are of the “buy 1, get 1 free” or “order now and save 30%” variety. Can you think of something unique that will really appeal to your target customer? Think of what need of theirs you can solve at a low cost that will provide immense value and position you as an expert in your field.


Product Usage

Advertising Techniques


The simple act of showing people using your product or service is one of the most common of advertising techniques and is effective in painting a picture for your audience of how they would / could / should use your product or service themselves. People by nature tend to mimic others and just seeing someone using your product is effective persuasion for the viewer to do the same (don't you feel like eating a cake when you see an ad where someone is enjoying one?).


Creativity

Advertising Techniques


It should go without saying that advertising involves a creative strategy and what I want to emphasize by including this as a separate sub-heading in this list of advertising techniques is that this is what makes the best ads work. If you can think of a creative and memorable way of communicating your main selling point in an instant then you have a winning ad. The more exciting, funny, ingenious, interesting, the better.

Don't worry if nothing comes to you all at once and it is okay to take inspiration from other creative ad ideas you see if you do not have the budget to hire a top advertising agency (which is the majority of small businesses!). Just think about it from time to time and experiment to come up with new ways of getting your message across visually and with the right words.


Compliments

Advertising Techniques


People like to feel good about themselves and you can effectively market your product or service by utilizing advertising techniques that compliment people for using it. L'Oréal is the world's largest cosmetics and beauty company and a large part of their success can be attributed to their decades-old ”you”-centric slogan “Because You're Worth It” which puts the focus on making the customer – and not the product – special.

Advertising Techniques


Similarly, any number of ads selling cars to deodorants often show how people who use a certain product are “hipper” and “trendier” (while those who do not are not!). The message here is simple: you are cool if you use our product and you are not if you don't. As illogical as it might seem that people would buy into such messaging wholesale, they do. If you are honest with yourself, you will realize that a lot of the brands you identify with are because you see them as cool and that they then, by inference, make you look cool (more about this under “Being Hip” & "Making Fun").


Lifestyle

Advertising Techniques


Being “cool” leads to advertising techniques that focus around lifestyle. In my article on advertising trends I mentioned the groundbreaking book Odyssey by Pepsi / Apple executive John Sculley in which he talks about how Pepsi keyed into the idea of lifestyle in the 80s in order to overtake Coke as the #1 soft drink. The idea here is to show ideal people that your target audience can identify with having fun and associating your product or service with that lifestyle.


Sentimental

Advertising Techniques


Similar advertising techniques aim at other emotions within the complete spectrum of a buyer's life by creating feel good scenes of friends and family. Or it may be that you are shown a tragic scene like the TV ads of poor children in developing countries that are aired during the holiday season. Other common themes are doing something good for parents / children, being the ultimate spouse, saving the day at the office and many others. These ads use the same dramatic techniques as soap operas and are designed to create an emotional response and attachment to your message (they work, too!).


Anthropomorphism

Advertising Techniques


This is a fancy term for advertising techniques that imbue characteristics of life to your product. This is a techniques that is widely used in animation where animals and even inanimate objects like furniture can be made to appear humanlike. When we see an object exhibiting the behavior and emotions of humans, we form a natural human connection with it. Why not use this concept for products? Well, advertisers have been doing just that for a long time. The famous M&M couple is a great example and this ad by Nike comes close by picturing a shoe as a rocket ship which is the same kind of idea (not humanlike, but very cool!).


Characters

Advertising Techniques


More common that turning your product into a character is using another character as a mascot for your product or service. There are no ends of advertising techniques that do this using everything from animated characters to real ones. These characters can take on a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors but they all have one thing in common which is personality. I have written about the importance of developing a marketing personality for your business and the ultimate personification of this is a living, breathing – or animated! - mascot who either embodies the positive qualities of your brand or stars in funny or dramatic scenes where your brand message can be played out.


Quality

Advertising Techniques


A basic rule of business – and life! - holds true for advertising techniques as well and that is that you will be judged by the quality of your ads. Just having a high quality production or an ad where it is obvious that a lot of time and effort has been spent in developing it makes a big impression on your customers and can speak highly of your brand itself. I am not a pro-alcohol person, but you cannot help but be impressed by the presentation of this Bacardi ad, for example. Taking the extra effort and paying the extra few dollars for high quality design, gloss and finish sends the message that you take care of other parts of your business as well which include having a high quality product or service.


Testimonials

Advertising Techniques


We have all seen ads where customers – or even actors – provide testimonials and references for a given product or service and the effectiveness of these advertising techniques is well known. If you think about it, how much of what you buy is predicated around what others say? As for myself, I always read multiple reviews before going to watch a movie. I am sure you can find many instances where you rely on the reviews and opinions of others before making a purchase. This is one of the reasons behind the power of viral marketing and social media marketing, the fact that many of us would rather trust other people like ourselves than slick branded commercials.


Endorsements

Advertising Techniques


In this age of big celebrity endorsements, it is good to note that you don't have to cough up millions of dollars to a star like Justin Timberlake in order to use these advertising techniques. Think of the toothpaste ads that simply say, “more dentist use this brand” or the Duracell battery ads that provide anecdotal endorsements of everyone from medical staff to scientists to space astronauts who rely on their batteries. In the same way, you can weave endorsements into your advertising by identifying a group of users or a slice of your market segment that can be used to sell other customers on the idea that you are the best at what you do.


References

Advertising Techniques


Anything from a Better Business Bureau logo to this “As Seen on TV” sticker can add valuable credibility to your brand. Aren't you more likely to purchase from a website that has multiple references from leading media outlets and security and safe transaction verifications? In the same way, whatever third-party references or referrals you can provide can be advertising techniques to help you convert more leads into sales.


Problems & Benefits

Advertising Techniques


The heart of a product is solving a customer problem or providing a unique benefit and many effective advertising techniques are built around promoting that one simple fact. A lot of great ads create a powerful impact by depicting an extreme scenario that highlights the central problem that a given product solves or value that you provide (better than anyone else!). You can probably think of many examples of this, from pickup trucks hauling extreme weights to air fresheners that brighten colors and bring the whole surroundings to life to drinking a refreshment beverage and getting soaked by an inexplicable outburst of water.


Fear

Advertising Techniques


“Can you afford not to?” is a powerful question in sales and marketing and is used in advertising techniques that draw on the emotion of fear in order to get your customers to buy. Whether it be saving for a rainy day, insuring against accidents or providing for your family's health and wellbeing, there are no end of ads playing on our basic need to safeguard against negative eventualities. If nothing else, think about what it means to your customers not to deal with the pain that your product or service provides for and see if you can build a creative advertising strategy around that.


News

Advertising Techniques


Advertising techniques that incorporate announcements can be about anything from new products and improvements to special events, offers and more. Advertising ongoing news about your product, service and company is a standard email marketing strategy and if you have something really big to announce, why not turn it into a standalone ad? Have you ever been tempted to follow up on an ad that announces a “Limited Time Offer” or a revolutionary breakthrough of some sort or another? It is human nature to want to stay informed and to be curious about new things.


Curiosity

Advertising Techniques


Curiosity can be used in other ways amongst advertising techniques and it is not unusual to see ads that don't seem to advertise anything but rather are stepping stones to something else. For instance, you might see a full page “Coming Soon” ad in a newspaper that shows brand colors or some other recognizable feature which is then played out in coming days. Movie producers are great at using the power of curiosity to build up anticipation for upcoming releases. This ad for the movie “District 9” does a great job of advertising the theme of the movie without making any reference to it (apart from the website). You do not need to go to such extremes to create an element of mystery and suspense through the appeal of curiosity yourself.


Bandwagon

Advertising Techniques


The phrase, “join the bandwagon!” can be applied to advertising techniques that send the message that everyone else is using a certain brand and that you should be too. Curiosity and the fear of being left behind often compel people to follow up and even purchase because of the psychology that drives this approach. It is a fact that people in general spend a lot of time and effort “keeping up with the Jonses”, so to speak, and if you are honest you will be surprised to find that a lot of your own behavior is driven by social prerogatives as well.


Exclusivity

Advertising Techniques


This is the opposite of the bandwagon approach and is where advertising techniques are designed to make you feel unique by purchasing a certain product or service. A simple example are ads that tell you that you will miss long line-ups or get exclusive access (such as rental car service and airlines). This approach also applies to luxury brands that want to make you feel part of an elite group. The funny thing is that both techniques work: people want to feel special but also want to feel like they are not missing out on what everyone else is doing. Go figure, human nature!


Go Big

Advertising Techniques


McDonald's are the king of big logos and prove the notion that advertising techniques incorporating the “bigger is better” approach can work exceedingly well. Like with everything else in sales and marketing – and life! -, one technique cannot provide the answer for every situation and going big does not work for all brands and businesses. However, there is nothing like being loud in order to attract attention and so as long as you have a quality product or service to back up your advertising, you might looking at finding ways to trumpet your key selling point(s) within the marketplace.


Competition

Advertising Techniques


Some people hold that correct sales and marketing etiquette requires that you do not bash your competition because that makes you look bad. Other companies have grown tremendously by doing just that, taking shots at the competition with every opportunity. Whichever approach suits you, it is nevertheless always a good idea to position yourself as better than your competition with regards to your key differentiator(s). Whether or not you name your competition outright and whether or not you saying things like, “they are a great company that I respect” - a standard sales line! -, you should always let your customers know how you are better and this is also something that can be reflected in the advertising techniques you adopt.


Statistics

Advertising Techniques


Nothing like throwing some numbers into the mix in order to spice things up! Remember that when using statistics as various advertising techniques, the more precise, the better. So, saying ”#1 in customer satisfaction” is good but saying, “89% of our customers rate our service 10/10” is better. You cannot be the best at everything, but if you are creative, you can often come up with areas where you can apply that sought-after #1 stamp to yourself. For example, if you are not #1 in your market, then perhaps you are in a certain geography or for a certain product or feature you provide.


Studies

A corollary to statistics are advertising techniques that reference studies. You will no doubt have seen many ads that begin with someone saying, “Studies show...” and then going on to relate a product or service benefit in a relevant way. The cool thing is that you do not have to perform the study yourself in order to benefit from this approach (aha!). Simply find relevant data and include it in your advertising either as a central focus or in passing (e.g. “Are you one of the 23% of Americans that suffer from...?”).


Repetition

Advertising Techniques


They say that it takes 7 impressions for a customer to retain your brand message. That means that a customer needs to see your message – or variations of it – that many times in order to recognize it and for it to influence him. As well as the actual repetition of your ads themselves during the length of campaigns, these advertising techniques may be applied to your message itself where you repeat key phrases and your value proposition in order to your customer to retain those points. Absolut Vodka has created a dominant brand through its iconic ads which repeats the same imagery idea in endlessly creative ways (like I said, I am not a fan of drinking but, hey, the ads are good!).


Superlatives

Advertising Techniques


Advertising techniques that promote you as being the biggest, best, fastest, cheapest and so on come under this category. In this age of hyper-competition, it is important to not only be able differentiate yourself from your competition, but state with confidence that you offer unbeatable value to your customer. In Jim Collins' bestselling book on building a great company Good to Great, one of the rules of success is to figure out what you can do better than anyone else. Have you figured that out for yourself? Make sure that your customers know too!


Being Hip

Advertising Techniques


Part of what makes successful advertising techniques is relating to the lifestyle and values of your customers with your brand. Being hip is about positioning yourself as a social necessity for people within your target audience who want to express themselves to others. Brands like Rayban sunglasses and Doc Martin boots have been successful at appealing to the “hip” factor and breaking into mainstream success. Can you make your product or service fashionable in the eyes of others so that people will consider you cool?


Making Fun

Advertising Techniques


Where there is cool, there must also be uncool! Some advertising techniques go the opposite route to positioning users of their brand as desirable by making fun of those less fortunate people who do not (as well as making fun of other brands themselves!). You have no doubt seen many of these kinds of ads where anyone from the office nerd to the unseemly neighbor is represented with unattractive qualities that highlight the attractive qualities of brand users. The result is the same: using your product or service is socially desirable. Advertisers want you to believe that only winners use their products and that in fact using the brand itself will make you cool. Can you say something to the same effect in your messaging (e.g. “don't settle for less”)?


Either / Or

Advertising Techniques


This is a spin of the classic sales technique of giving your customers alternatives, each of which result in a purchase. For example, well trained restaurant servers will ask questions like, “Would you like Coke or Pepsi with that?” The classic example of this is Henry Ford's famous statement about his Model T Ford: “you can have it in any color you like, as long as it's black”. What these advertising techniques boil down to is giving your customers choice and making sure you advertise it: Do you want another size, shape or color? Do you want to purchase on finance? Do you want to personalize it? The ideal approach to this line of thinking is designing these features into your product. What you want to do is offer your customers everything that they can find from a competitor (and more!).


Orders

Advertising Techniques


The best advertising techniques that employ this method simply tell customers what to do in a way that makes refusing seem out of the question (the mediocre ones say things like “Call Today!” or “Order Now!” which uses the same method). In some scenarios, an ad can be structured like a sales script where you ask customers about their problem and then posit the purchase of your product or service as being the only reasonable course of action if that really is the case. It's almost like saying, “if you are suffering from so and so then you would be silly not to buy this.” As the very least, think about ways of trying out statements that simply ask your customers to buy.


Being Assumptive

Advertising Techniques


Sometimes you can simply behave as if a customer has already decided to purchase you product and include statements like, “Your order will be shipped within 3 business days” and “We appreciate your business”. Essentially, these kinds of advertising techniques communicate with your customer in a way that says, “we know you are going to purchase this and that is not even in question.” It does not take a degree in psychology to come up with subtle assumptive remarks of this nature within your advertising and a good way of picking up on these is to study ads that you come across yourself on a day-to-day basis. I like the way this Lancôme ad says, “Time for Your Gift” and assumes the purchase.


Visualization

Advertising Techniques


Painting a picture of your customer enjoying the benefits of your product or service is a classic sales technique and one of the most powerful advertising techniques as well. Remember that visualization can be spoken and written as well as by using visual images. Phrases like, “think about how nice it will be to...” and “imagine yourself...” set the scene for a customer and allow their mind to do the selling for you. It practically impossible not to visualize something that you are told to: picture a sleek, black car streaking along on a dark, moonlit night. What did you just do? See??


Exaggeration

Advertising Techniques


The Microsoft ad above under Visualization also demonstrates exaggeration and this Hot Pepper hot sauce ad also shows what I mean by these kinds of advertising techniques. This is a fundamental techniques in creative advertising: figure out your key selling point and then create an exaggerated scenario of it in order to hammer the message home instantaneously. There are no end of ads that do this and if you pay attention you will notice how prevalent this advertising technique is. I can think of a number just of of the top of my head including showing a couple of tortoises chatting about Internet speed and one of my favorite ads for Nabob coffee – I prefer Colombian Juan Valdez! - which shows a man practically destroying his living room and wringing out an expensive carpet to save a cup of spilled coffee.


Association

Advertising Techniques


Just as you are associating your brand with the ultimate ideal lifestyle and values of your customers, you can also use advertising techniques that associate your product or service with the finer things in life in general (or with anything that you want to). The obscene ad for Bentley I could not help posting above with the other car ads above nevertheless is a powerful image of association by instantly conveying a rich, upper class aloofness that rises above the competitive bickering of the other ads. What kind of things do your target customers like that you can use to appeal to them by associating your brand with those things? It might be something non-intuitive such as referencing exotic vacations in passing if you are marketing to hectic professionals which positions your brand as a break from their busy lives.


Patriotism

Advertising Techniques


Patriotism may be the last refuge of a scoundrel according to Samuel Johnson but it also sells. To feel an affinity for one's roots and country is natural and to position your brand as such is not a bad thing. Tim Horton's coffee is considered a national brand in Canada and is thought of with a lot of patriotic fondness by most customers. You can see that in in this branding example, Tim Horton's is associating itself with Canada's national pastime (hockey) on Canada's nation TV station (CBC). You can also micro-size your patriotism to fit your local region, culture and tastes.


Public Service

Advertising Techniques


While this kind of messaging is usually reserved for non-profit organizations and the like, there are advertising techniques through which any business can utilize a similar angle for sales and marketing promotion. The name of the game is to build you brand and if you can do this by providing a valuable and helpful message, then so much the better. You don't have to go out of your way to create an iconic campaign like the popular “Got Milk?” ads in order to provide a public service message to your customers and the general public. Rather, think of useful messaging around your field or industry which you can provide in advertisements, newsletters and others notices (fantastic examples of these are the famous house ads by advertising genius David Ogilvy where he gave away the secrets of advertising in order to show his firm's own expertise).


Sponsorships

Advertising Techniques


This is another common practice among advertising techniques where you link your brand to the support of an organization, cause or event in order to promote your own brand in doing so. Most Fortune 500 type companies have one or more charities that they publicly support and it is not unusual to see corporate sponsorship branding on everything from sporting events to TV shows to most any other high-publicity event (wherever there are lots of people, you will find lots of commercial interest!). Can you find a local group, organization or event to support? You don't have to go out of your way and invest a huge budget in order to do this effectively: what about a simple homemade banner at your local Little League baseball games?


Drama

Advertising Techniques


Emotion is at the heart of what makes advertising techniques successful and so you could say that this is a vital ingredient that applies to any kind of advertising. Unless you can create an emotional reaction within the person who views your ad, you will not make a lasting impression on them. Creating dramatic situations is one way of doing this and you will no doubt be familiar with many ads that do this, from TV ads showing family emergencies to creative print ads that showcase a dramatic scene within the lives of typical customers. How can you create drama around the problem you solve or the benefit you provide? It does not have to be negative but can be positive drama as well, such as incorporating a success story or image into your ad to showcase your value.


Metaphors

Advertising Techniques


Having metaphors, similes and allegories incorporated into your sales and marketing communications means the kinds of advertising techniques that compare using your product or service to something positive in order to make a favorable impression. What that long sentence means is that you can simply come up with creative ways to show how nice or beneficial your product is and leave it at that. It's like a kid holding their hands far apart and saying, “I love you THIS much!” Just finding a creative way to say how great you are bypasses the need to talk in detail about your product, service or the benefit you provide.


Ask about Advertising Techniques or create your own page on this topic!

GO TO:
What is Advertising?Badvertising! 1 | 2 | 3A History of AdvertisingAdvertising StrategyAdvertising Marketing StrategyCreative Advertising IdeasAnatomy of an AdFamous Advertising SlogansAdvertising Marketing PlansOnline Advertising TrendsUsing Google AdWords"You" MessagingAdvertising Techniques Consultant




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