Advertising techniques typically used by small business are, alas, in the main expensive, ineffective and simply don’t work. So if you’re wondering how to advertise your business, then you need to forget what everyone else is doing (because while you’re copying them, they’re copying you) and focus on what works.
Why does all this come about?
Because they’re as often as not clones of the “institutional advertising” crap churned out by advertising agencies whose idea of cool advertising design is something like the example on the right. This is an actual ad from a few years ago. Can you tell what it’s for?
I couldn’t, not until I hit the website – but I did that only because I have a prurient interest in these things. Most people wouldn’t bother, not even out of curiosity because there simply isn’t anything to be curious about.
The fundamental mistake with these kinds of common advertising techniques and strategies is the designer thinks everyone looking through the paper or magazines are going to be printed in are just waiting to be entertained by some funky, surreal or 0ff-the-wall ad that’s really going to get them thinking.
Newsflash: they’re not.
Much as it pains the creative purveyors of advertisement design to grasp this nettle, the stark truth is people read newspapers to get the news and to be entertained; and they read magazines for much the same reasons, only typically they’re focusing on a narrower topic.
Which means we’re into the realm of interruption advertising. As the name suggests, your job as the advertiser is to stop the reader dead in his tracks so he stops what he’s doing and pays attention to your stuff instead. This is why we use the AIDA model of course.
Advertising Techniques that work
Advertising techniques for print ads really do have to be something more than white space with something “curious” on them. In other words you need a headline, a promise to fix a problem the reader has, proof of how you can do it, and finally proposition –or call to action — telling them exactly what they have to do to get you to do that for them.
Advertising copywriters know this, of course, and spend their waking lives (and a good deal of their sleeping ones) living and breathing the language of advertising and studying the ins and outs of persuasive advertising techniques, none of which, I might add, make them into mind-control Jedi masters, which is what some people like to claim.
Not only is the content of the advertisement vital, but the design is pretty important too. Most creative advertising design is, frankly, crap, and the advertising techniques employed laughable. The one above falls down because it’s meaningless, but at least you can see it. Many ad designers make the mistake of trying to make ads look flashy with great aesthetics. This is a mistake. Aesthetics play some part, but the overriding concern must be to get the ad read and acted upon. Creative advertising techniques must not come between the advertiser and her profit.
One of the most persuasive techniques in advertising is simply to target your headline at a problem you know a good proportion of your customers have and want to solve. So for a dentist, say, it might be as simple as promising to give smokers over 50 white teeth again. I don’t know — I’m not a dentist, but you can see my point, I’m sure.
Online advertising techniques and strategies
I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but advertising online and Internet advertising techniques are fundamentally no different from print advertising techniques. In both cases we’re dealing with the advertising psychology, and it’s the same wherever you go. Any differences in advertising techniques are differences of style, not substance.
For example, take pay per click advertising for those who wish to advertise on Google. You’ve got a headline, with some short copy and then an implied call to action (you want them to click).
Or, look at advertising online with the relatively new Facebook Advertising platform. The chief difference between it and Google’s Adwords is Facebook Advertising is again interruption advertising, whereas Adwords is search advertising – it’s targeted at people who are already looking for information on that topic.
The bottom line is this: the best advertising techniques have been around for a long time, and they aren’t going to change any time soon.
So do yourself a favour and stop listening to the graphic designers and instead begin listening to the true greats from the past, people like John Caples, Robert Collier and David Ogilvy. These guys used the kind of advertising techniques everyone should be using – one that WORK.