As advertisers, we’re often chasing the Next Big Thing™. But no matter the means of delivery (whether it’s a print ad, pre-roll video or VR experience), the core of what makes a good ad remains the same. You need to know your audience, present your brand promise and make ‘em believe you. And, it all needs to be done succinctly in 30 seconds or less. Let’s look at a few key components of what makes an ad effective.
It’s been reported that the average American is exposed to up to 5,000 ads each day. With that kind of competition for attention, it’s important that an ad says what it needs to say — and not a lot more. A singular message about your brand and a clear call-to-action are important.
Sure, your brand has an abundance of great qualities that you want to convey to your potential customers. The problem is that viewers don’t have the time or ability to take all that in. Your brand needs a simple, easy-to-understand benefit or point of differentiation to hang its hat on. By streamlining the messaging to one (or maybe two) talking points, you’ve made it easy for your audience to get the gist of your ad and how your product can solve their problem or make their life easier.
Then, you need to tell them what you want them to do — and what your brand promises. Think about taglines that are, in and of themselves, powerful and straightforward calls to action. Just Do It. Eat Fresh. Think Different. Even in smaller footprint ads (like rich media banners) or heavy retail applications, there are ways to tell your consumer what they should do without cramming the message down their throats. Instead of “Sign Up Now” try “Get Involved” or “Join Us” as a more inviting and aspirational message.
Your ad should feel relatable and genuine. Consumers can easily spot when a brand is trying to pull the wool over their eyes. That’s why word of mouth is the most powerful advertising there is, and the best ad is the one that no one realizes is an ad. When you’re creating an ad, remember that you’re talking to real people in the real world. Don’t fall into the trap of talking to yourself about how great you are. Be honest and human. Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and ask, “What do I already know and think about this brand or product? What would make me feel connected to the company? What would make me feel like the company understands me?” If you can answer those questions, you’re on the right path to making a great ad.
Your ad should offer the consumer something more than information on your product. It should bring entertainment value. In most cases, this means humor or heartstrings. The key to accomplishing either goal is the element of surprise — turning something on its head to make the expected unexpected. Be careful, however; you have to make sure the entertainment value you’re providing matches your brand’s goals and voice. You don’t want to entertain just for the point of entertainment, or else consumers will remember the ad — but not your brand.
Even the best ads are ineffective if they don’t reach the right people at the right time. When you’re dreaming up the most creative, inspiring, hilarious and just damn good ad you’ve ever made in your life, be sure you talk to your media department to make sure there’s an equally good (and appropriate) place to run it.
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In the 1920s, a company called Burma Shave — producers of brushless shaving cream — started putting signs up that delighted and educated drivers. These