Some ad techniques
How to start
You must research your market, customer and the competition quite thoroughly before you are ready to start designing your own ads. Cut your rivals' ads out and analyse the individual appeals. Find out what your prospects read and get a feel for the tone of editorial and ads in what they read. You must strike the right position for your product. Working with a good graphics package, draw the right-size space to prescribe the boundaries you have to work in. Detailed research has shown that:
- Five times as many people read the headline as read the rest of the ad; 80 per cent of your money could be wasted.
- Ads with a headline that promises a benefit are read by four times as many people.
- The reader's eye follows from illustration to headline to copy - so lay out your ad in that order. Photographs are more believable than drawings, and the bigger the illustration the more the ad is likely to be noticed.
- Ads with news are recalled by 20 per cent more people - so put that in your headline.
- Long headlines (more than 10 words) are read more than short headlines. Specifics are more memorable than generalities. (`72 per cent of housewives preferred Stork to butter' - rather than `More housewives prefer', etc.)
- Putting in the price is more memorable.
- Long copy sells more - if it is interesting. If you have a story - why not tell it?
- Putting large chunks of text in CAPITALS and reversed type (white on black) is discouraging to read.
- Whole pages pull in not twice as much but only 70 per cent greater response, which is a comfort to smaller ads where the same principle holds good in proportion. Strangely, one-third page ads pull more than a half.
- Colour is more important than size.
And only 5 per cent of the readership actually reads your ad.
There are a number of well proven ways of getting the message across, but never lose sight ofthe first principle: remember the benefits.
You and I buy things because of what they'll do for us. With the sole exception of charity offerings, and in that I include Scout sales of work and PTA Christmas card drives, we part with money because we can see a use for the product. A particular shampoo is not bought because it contains malathion. That's a feature. The benefit is that it kills nits! The benefits of a tungsten-tipped saw blade are that it lasts longer, saves downtime on changing over, and reduces sharpening costs.
It is very easy to fall into the trap of always talking about the features of your product and particularly of a service. It is of little interest that your service vans may all be equipped with GPS: the benefit to your customer is a swifter response time.
By and large, your customers are not interested that you have ISO 9001 for your dry-cleaning business - just that you should never lose clothes and give a quick turnround.
Price can be a benefit. If you are selling a product that is going to save someone money, then multiply the savings up. Fifty pence a week is neither here nor there, but £26 over a full year is a headline. Few would go out and buy an encyclopedia on French cooking, but if it is sold every week as a partwork - `only' £2 every Friday - you've captured an audience. Petrol-saving devices are pushed on the same lines. No one notices 5 per cent off a gallon of petrol, but projected over a year's motoring of 12,000 miles, the savings (in theory) are memorable.All your advertising should be looked at in terms of customer needs.
So here are some advertisement techniques
Copywriters use a variety of techniques to get the message over in an effective and memorable manner. A straight headline and text would be confused with the editorial, so papers now insert `Advertisement' over layouts of this type. Convention has defeated imitation.
First favourite among many advertisers is to find and isolate a unique selling proposition, ie a benefit that you alone possess. Enhance and create that so it contains your main message and appeal. Many products are composed of a mix of different benefits, most of which are embodied in the competition. It could become tedious to analyse and compare them all, so why not concentrate on just one and highlight that? When I meet a firm for the first time I invariably ask, `Why do people buy from you?' and not always do they know. It may be because of the range of products, the hours they keep, the in-depth knowledge they possess or a host of attributes. It's often a useful exercise to mount a simple market research exercise and ask customers. Once you know, you can major on that in your advertising. Most adverts are glanced at for about ½ second, so there is little time to present a comprehensive argument.
Before and after
Illustrations that show improved performance before and after treatment can be persuasive. This technique can be used for double glazing, paint treatments, lawn fertilisers, hair shampoos, chair covers and many other face-lifts. It can be invaluable for services as distinct from products.
Sell the extreme
Often the best way of selling the benefits of a product is to show it in action. And don't stop at the natural use. Go to the extreme. A manufacturer selling outdoor tables to pubs could use a rugby team climbing all over them. The publican would hope that this would never occur, but it would ram home the point of strength. If your paint is weather-proof, illustrate it in severe situations. Dulux used it on a lighthouse. I can remember a new type of toughened glass coming out years ago. It was pictured supporting an elephant. No one would use it for that, but the absurd combination made the point very effectively. People will think `If it's good enough for that, it must be OK for what I want.'
We can't all afford television personalities to push our turkey joints but there are homelier ways. Extracts from letters from satisfied customers, `Mrs S of Worthing has told all her friends to rush out and buy Bloggit since this cured her aches', can work wonders. Endorsements are probably more easily used in direct mail because you have more room to quote long extracts. (`The original letters are on our files and open to inspection.')