Advertising is a key driver of the economy. Not only is it responsible for connecting businesses with their customers, it can also serve as a vital public information service. Whatever form advertising takes, its purposes remain the same – to inform, persuade and remind.
However, in the age of social media, when you can put your brand out there for free – is a paid advertising campaign still worth a chunk of your marketing budget?
In short, yes.
Why? Because organic reach can only get you so far. Digital platforms will only give you the coverage you need if you pay for their services. They are businesses after all. And it’s a system that seems to work – small businesses currently spend an average of $10,000 a month on Google ads. Which makes perfect sense when you discover that 88% of people who search for a local business on their mobile, call or visit that business the same day. If you know what you are doing, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Furthermore, while technology is rapidly changing, so are customer expectations. 84% of online consumers now expect brands to create content. And 88% of B2B marketers think that content makes their audience view them as a credible and trusted source. So, in order to match these expectations, businesses need to keep up with demand and invest wisely.
And let’s not forget, your audience might not even engage with social media. This is why you still see billboards, posters, and leaflets in abundance. The key is to use brand monitoring to find out where your audience is and targeting them with something that resonates.
Well, throwing money at random ideas without a plan can be an expensive waste of time, so this is where campaign and strategy come in. How do you get it right? Through careful planning, targeting the needs of your customer, and testing to find what works.
Let’s go back to basics. Firstly, you must determine the outcomes that your advertising has to achieve to be considered a success. It’s important to set measurable targets, so will you be able to gauge the campaign’s effectiveness. These might be increased sales, traffic, or overall growth.
The big three purposes of advertising are:
● Increase brand awareness
● Inform consumers of a new product/offering
● Convert consumers to sales for your brand
Working out which of these categories your campaign falls into will not only allow you to track its success (more on that later), but also generate a concept that works from the outset.
In order for any advertising campaign to be effective, it needs to be centered around a strong concept. Pinning your central idea down, being customer-focused, specific, relevant, and memorable, will make your messaging stand out from the rest and help you achieve your desired outcomes.
General advertisements for brand awareness require a different approach to launching a specific product or promotion. Brands require long-term thinking, whereas products are more short-lived and can change rapidly. Take McDonald’s for example. There is a vast difference between the way they market their brand as a whole and the way they advertise new food products. So, decide what kind of advertising you are doing first, and what action you want your audience to take in response. Brand awareness campaigns are not necessarily going to have the same outcomes as product-focused ones.
It’s vital that your messaging resonates with your target market. Market research will bring you essential insights on age, sex, jobs, habits, preferences, lifestyle and opinions, and you can use these to create customer avatars. Once you know what your audience wants and needs, the easier it is to meet those needs. And, the closer you align your audience and your concept, the more effective your campaign will be.
If you’ve done effective market research, you will know where your audience is and how to reach them. Whether it’s social media, TV or promotional items, choose the form that they will see and connect with the most. Not taking the time to do proper research on the best marketing channels to use, can be extremely costly.
Simple is usually the most effective. Again, knowing your audience is key. Whether you use a tone that’s funny or serious, whether your approach is clever and witty or straightforward no-frills, keep the idea simple and focused on what will resonate. Think about the benefits of your product (rather than its features) and brainstorm any creative ideas you have for visuals, words, phrases, and calls to action. If you get stuck, a great way to prompt ideas is to find examples of competitor’s ads or brands you admire and try to emulate them. Through tweaks and changes, you will discover something new.
Stories communicate messages in ways that connect with our emotions. They’re memorable because they use a relatable context; they give us something we recognize, to identify with and hold onto. For example, a video showing how a great photocopier makes Janet from Accounts’ life easier, is far more powerful than a list of why X copier is fancier than Y.
When you are recognizable, you become familiar and trusted by your audience. Consistent branding reminds people who you are and reinforces your messaging, and you will become instantly recognizable by using it across all marketing. Colors, logos, fonts, and straplines all contribute to cementing your brand identity, and writing techniques such as rhyme and alliteration will make your words stick in the mind.
We all want our campaigns to be memorable, but make sure it’s for the right reasons. This isn’t about being led by trends as much as having your finger on the pulse of popular opinion. Social media is particularly quick to react to anything unpopular, and a misjudged ad that is out of step with the times could prove catastrophic to your brand, so proper social media marketing put in place is critical to business performance. Who can forget Protein World’s infamous ‘Are you beach body ready?’ campaign?!
Don’t be afraid to experiment with a range of ideas. If your campaign is digital, you can measure your audience’s response to different ideas using analytics. You can use this information to refine your ideas and gauge the effectiveness of your concept.
Brand tracking and management tools such as Latana keep you informed on how your campaign is resonating with the target audience. As well as the ROI on your current campaign, these tools give you valuable insights to make decision-making easier. With this data, you will know if the campaign is effective in its current form, whether it has resonated with the target audience and raised brand awareness/sales, and also inform thinking behind further advertisements (either in the same series or part of a separate campaign).
What’s more, you will be able to see whether your campaign has attracted a new, unexpected audience that you may not have been tracking yet but could open up a new market for your product. By using monitoring tools you give yourself the chance to learn and make adjustments in real-time, as well as harvesting data that shows the impact that a great campaign can have on brand perception and sales.
There are no shortcuts to creating an effective ad campaign, and there’s more than one key to success. Concept, pitch, tone, and placement are all important, but you need to understand the entire process and carry out thorough research. Your campaign doesn’t stop when you put it into the public domain, either. Testing, learning, and refining are just as important as preparation and ideation.
At its best, good advertising clearly articulates the brand value to its target audience, becoming memorable, invoking loyalty, and prompting action. At its worst, it forgets about its audience, tries to be too clever or gets the tone completely wrong.
Remember, people don’t want to work hard to figure out what you’re trying to tell them. So, make your choices carefully and go for those that have been proven to work – clarity over cleverness, stories over product features, and the customer at the center of every decision.