Here is a list of effective general advertising techniques:
- Always dramatize your brand’s most important benefit.
- Create simple ads—they are usually more powerful.
- Create copy in smaller chunks (sentences, paragraphs, etc).
- Use natural and “real life” writing or dialogue.
- Subtly tap into people’s fears and anxieties.
Here are some print advertising techniques that have proved to be effective:
- Try to evoke the reader’s curiosity. Begin by asking a provocative question and/or feature an image that piques the reader’s curiosity.
- Put quotes around your headlines.
- Romance/dramatize your product or service.
- Try to trigger multiple senses; use words that help people feel, hear, smell, and taste your product.
- Tell a story.
- Communicate “news.”
- Provide information that is useful to the reader.
- Always write in the present tense.
- Be as specific as possible.
- Include customer testimonials (they should seem natural, not scripted or polished).
- Know how readers read (from right to left, top to bottom in the United States) and place your headlines, illustrations, captions, and copy accordingly. (In his book Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads, Roy H. Williams indicates that savvy photographers and graphic artists have known for some time that there is a spot on a piece of artwork to which the eye is irresistibly drawn, roughly between the middle and upper right corner of the artwork.)
- Use white space to focus the reader’s attention on something important.
- Use words that sell: at last, now, new, introducing, announcing, finally, limited, save, free, win, easy, guarantee, breakthrough, wanted, etc. (Keep in mind that as consumers become more sophisticated and savvy, there may be instances where these words might be clichés or overused and thus may not be as effective.)
- Avoid metaphors, analogies, puns, double entendres, “insider” references, and other nonstraightforward language. Alliteration is sometimes effective.
- Avoid jargon, dialect, acronyms, and model numbers, especially in headlines.
Here are some successful approaches to television advertisements:
- Company leader as brand spokesperson. Examples are Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic, Dave Thomas of Wendy’s, John Schnatter of Papa John’s, and Jim Koch of Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams brand).
- Interesting character as brand spokesperson (Mr. Whipple for Charmin).
- Customer testimonial.
- Visualization of the brand benefit and/or the “reason why.”
- Product demonstration (demonstrating product usage and showing brand benefit).
- Torture test (Timex “Takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’”).
- Before-after. To some large degree, advertising sells the hope of an improved future with the use of a particular brand of product or service. Before-after advertising reinforces this hope.
- Competitive comparison. Although it is usually not wise to identify the competitive brand by name, a special case would be the comparison to premium brand(s). However, this can lead to greater category price sensitivity.
- Slice-of-life vignette (telling a story about the benefits of the brand).
- Presenter/”talking head” (in which a person attempts to persuade the viewer about the benefits of the brand).
© 2015 Brad VanAuken. Reprinted from Brand Aid, second edition, available here.