Creating Effective Ads

I was asked to speak at the advertising seminar for the OHBA Annual Conference in Collingwood. Posted here is an excerpt of my presentation on creating effective ads.

Advertising That Works

Five Principles of Building an Effective Ad

Whether you’re promoting the hottest new housing development or a revolutionary toothpaste, you need to know what you’re doing and take the time to think through your creative. To achieve effective results, any marketing communications effort should follow these five fundamental principles:

1. Attract Attention

Your ad is competing for your customers’ attention – not only with other ads but with the many distractions of a busy life. Every ad you create should make your customers want to stop and pay attention. This can be accomplished with a clever headline and a unique image.

The headline may be the most important part of the ad. If it’s catchy and appealing, you’ll hook your customers and draw them further into your message. A striking or unusual image is equally important, and works to capture your customers’ interest.

2. Appeal to Your Audience

You need to clearly identify the audience for your ad then make sure your message appeals to them. This message should address the audience’s interests or announce relevant news. Most importantly, it should explain how they will benefit from your product or service, for example, how ABC Product will make your skin look years younger. This creates self-interest, or a personal advantage for the customer as a result of product use. Note that the benefits, not the features, appeal most directly to your audience.

3. Communicate Your Advantage

According to adman Morris Hite, “really great advertising comes right out of the product and says something about the product that no one else can say.” Your ad should communicate your company’s unique advantage over the competition, detailing why customers should favour your product or service. Your goal here is to differentiate yourself by demonstrating distinct characteristics, such as increased quality of life, better location or superior craftsmanship.

4. Prove Your Advantage

Once you’ve identified your advantage, your ad should prove it. The most convincing way to demonstrate your point is through testimonials, statistics and other concrete measurables. This assures potential customers that they will receive the promised benefit as a result of their relationship with your company.

5. Motivate Your Audience to Action

Finally, your ad should motivate your audience to take action. This is usually accomplished by making a special offer such as a discount, bonus, free trial or exceptional event. For example, you might invite them to an exclusive pre-opening engagement or offer an irresistible limited-time offer. This “call to action” is the essential conclusion to any ad and should never be overlooked.

Every marketing communication you produce needs to pull your customers through each of these five stages to the inevitable conclusion of engaging with your product or service. You can create results-driven advertisements that make the most of your marketing opportunities by following these steps.

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