As the firm I co-founded with my esteemed business partner approaches 20 years old, I have been reflecting recently on the changes we've seen in the advertising world. The industry has changed a lot over these past two decades. Technology offers more ways to reach people, new advertising methods have emerged and consumers are bombarded with more marketing messages than ever before. Some of my beliefs about successful advertising have been challenged to the point of evolving while others have been confirmed as timeless truths.
On the subject of developing successful, highly effective advertising:
• I believe there is no single formula for a perfect ad. At one time every ad had to have headline + body copy + photo + logo + phone number. Not any more. It’s time to break some rules, the only problem with that idea is:
• I believe there are no rules.
• I believe that advertising is a creative interpretation of a brand designed to achieve a specific result. So, make sure the brand is well-defined and differentiated first. Otherwise you're building on a foundation of sand. It also helps to know what results you want the ad campaign to achieve.
• I believe in having as much research as possible within the constraints of the budget. Research includes knowing your target audience by age, gender and location demographics so you can craft a message that speaks directly to them and matching it up with the proper media outlets. It also means that the creative team should know the product inside and out.
• I believe that there is no substitute for great photography.
• I believe in fully integrated campaigns. Contrary to what you may have heard, print media is not dead. Magazine readership is up and with so many more niche publications out there they provide a great opportunity to reach a very targeted audience. Direct mail may seem old-fashioned, but for some marketers it’s still the most effective medium. Of course, TV, Radio, out-of-home, online and pay-per-click can yield great results as well. What’s the right percentage of each? As with bullet point #1 – there is no single formula for this either. Every situation is unique and requires a thoughtful solution. Most campaigns on a limited budget can’t hit every type of media outlet, but putting all your eggs in only one basket is not a good idea.
• I believe in brand consistency all across the aforementioned integrated campaigns.
• I believe in the power of creativity. With the amount of marketing messages that the average consumer sees every day, it takes a creative solution to make one stand out above all others. The creativity can come in the form of a clever message, a bold design, a surprising ad placement or all of the above.
• I believe the advertising world has gotten more complicated in the past 20 years with the addition of digital options, pay-per-click and social media. It also makes the potential payoff for our clients larger. That excites me.
• I believe I’ll have another cup of coffee. I’m going to need it.