Six Types of Ads for Effective Marketing

group legs 45363100How do you know if an ad works? If your only answer is “by sales,” then you’re missing the point of most advertising and are likely shorting yourself on the full marketing power ads can bring to your marketing mix. Here are 6 of the more common categories of ads and how they might work for you:

1. Image Ads – Used to make your brand top of mind for key audiences. By definition, these tend to be larger-sized ads, beautiful, well-designed with little writing but a big message, because they are geared to create an “image.” They are generally done by large brands, but should not be ignored by smaller retailers and brands. If possible, co-op dollars can be used to help promote image ads locally.

2. Traffic Drivers – Also frequently considered loss leader ads. These are used to get customers into a store enticed by a great bargain. The upselling and real potential sales come after the customer is at your site. Inserts and sales circulars are generally traffic driver ads.

3. Impulse Sales – Used to create demand for a product that may be unknown to a consumer. It’s a type of traffic driver, but unlike the loss leader can be for a high-end item such as the iPad mini or Google Nexus tablet during the holiday season. A key point of an impulse sale ad is “limited time” or “limited inventory.”  Mobile ads are generally impulse sale ads, but print and online display ads can create impulse as well.

4. Foundational Positioning Ads – These are used to differentiate you from the competition and introduce you to new customers. Grand Opening ads if done well can be positioning ads, creating a foundation for letting the consumer know who you are and why you are worth a try. These types of ads can and should be run in some periodic schedule so your value proposition is clear at all times. Portions of a foundational ad can be included in other ads, and frequently summarized are seen as tag lines, but a true foundational ad tends to be larger and provide proof of performance or positioning.

5. Good Neighbor Ads – In a sense, they are a type of foundational ad, but with a very specific purpose of proving your involvement and commitment to the community. They are distinctly separate from sales and can be sponsorship ads of charitable organizations, or “hats off” ads to local service providers. They only ring true if done outside of any disaster PR efforts. For instance, BP ads for the Gulf Coast are not Good Neighbor Ads. They are mia culpa ads used to regain some lost reputation. Good Neighbor ads are truly philanthropic and in line with a company’s mission or local commitment to a cause. They create affinity for like-minded consumers, but have no sales initiative.

6. Employee Motivational Ads – Many company’s say employees are their greatest asset, and way too few take out ads to let the world know how much they value their employees. These can include service award ads, welcome our new employee ads, honor our high service level employee ads. It’s hard to measure the goodwill they create, but they are usually framed and pinned to employee’s walls to show how much the external publicity is valued internally.

All ads, by definition, are Engagement Ads . They should make people want to be affiliated or involved with your brand, product or service to some degree or another. But, they are not all geared toward an instant or short-term sales.

The Walk-away: Ultimately every business needs sales to stay in business, but different ads serve different purposes. Each is a worthwhile investment if you are clear on your goals and are measuring results accordingly.

Is Your Advertising Art?

Is your Advertising Art? If not, it’s likely not effective, because Advertising is Art. That’s why it’s generally done by well-trained graphic designers who understand the importance of visuals and getting the eye to connect to the brain. In terms of commercial advertising, the artistry of an ad is important for letting the consumer make an emotional connection to your business story.

Most small to mid-sized businesses make the error of treating their ads as glorified listings. Their ads display their company name, phone number and perhaps web address. Many company names are the owner’s name, giving the customer no clue as to what you do. The lack of creative copy does nothing to entice a new customer to give a company a try, or understand why your company is the one worth aligning with in a sea of similar businesses. And yes, the Copy is Art as well.

Not all exterminators, car dealerships, grocery stores, or gas stations are alike, and yet they tend to make their ads excruciatingly similar. Differentiation has always been critical, but is even more so in the digital age, when competitors are as likely to come from around the world as around the corner.

Want your advertising to be effective in connecting with a prospect or potential customer? Don’t save money on artists. Many broadcast and media companies offer to do your ads for free, or at low cost. It’s their way of enticing you to give their medium a try, and reduce your overall costs so you can afford their space costs without incurring other production fees. Unfortunately, Advertising is like everything else. You get what you pay for.

Have a limited budget? Give a rising young student a shot. Or, there are many freelancers out there today who would love to give you a good artist’s rate in exchange for the experience, added income, and portfolio beefing.  Good to great artists are worth their weight in gold, yet artists tend to be highly underpaid, so make a connection with someone now who will value your relationship and keep you looking “cool” long after they’ve been discovered and raise their own rates.

The Walk-away: Ads are not one-size fits all. An effective ad is exciting to watch and artfully gets your message across even in a very crowded field.

Lessons from a Leader – Ray Ban Ads

Have you seen the latest series of Ray Ban ads, running in the May issue of Wired magazine?  If not, here they are.

What can we learn from them?

  • Ads don’t need lots of copy to be effective
  • Frequency gains awareness
  • Consistency in copy builds brand positioning
  • A great photo can make a great ad
  • What’s in the background is as important as the foreground
  • A little color is sometimes more effective than a lot
  • Not everything has to be in the ad. A web site is great for extra info.
  • Change has to be consistent.

The problem with most ads is inconsistency. With the Ray Ban ads, the photos change, but the message does not – be different boldly and with pride. The headline, logo positioning, logo color, web address for more info on the left, and  anniversary mark remain the same.

The message in the series is simple. Ray Bans are for the people who stand out from the crowd. What you see here are three of five interpretations of the same concept, but unwavering attention to a consistent, simple theme. Click here to see the complete campaign.  The ads are the latest in a five-year campaign. This year’s ads celebrate the company’s 75th anniversary and celebrate people who, throughout times, flout conformity in plain site.

The Walk-away: Ads that build brands are like walking shoes. They’re built to last (apologies to Jim Collins ) by solidly supporting the brand’s message. Whether you like them or not, they’re simple, reliable and get you where you want to go.

In Advertising – Don’t Follow the Leader

When creating an ad, many entrepreneurs look to copy their top competitor — usually the leader, or the business that was first in the market. They figure whatever type of ad worked for the leader must be good enough for them. Nothing could be farther from the truth and leads to the worst kind of market positioning — forever limiting you to the me-too position, or at best – second best.

This is seen many times with auto ads, landscaping and liquor store ads. It’s hard to tell one competitor apart from the other as each advertiser copies the other. Depending on the category, these me-to ads can be either endless lists of products, similar layouts, or identical coupling strategies and color combinations. The ads do nothing to differentiate the newer entry from the established known brand in the market.

Without differentiation, consumers will always go to the established brand, and may even be willing to pay more for the established brand trust. When entering a market against an established competitor, the first rule is to differentiate yourself. Differentiation can be achieved in many ways, but it’s the advertising that lets the public in on your differentiating secret. It’s why your ad needs to be different as well.

In an earlier post, I advocated imitating ads from great national brands. Why isn’t that contradictory with this post telling you not to follow the leader? Because you need to differentiate yourself in your market. Adapting a concept from a leader outside your market can keep you fresh within your market. Creating a me-too ad in your current market does not. It keeps you racing to just catch up.

A great example are the presidential mimic radio ads for KIA dealers. If a local non-KIA dealer did the same concept it would fall flat. But, if you go to another market and happen to hear a similar spot, you realize KIA national is playing a hand in local dealer’s radio spots. And regardless of where you are in the country, you’ll recognize the mimic ads as KIA brand. For locals, it differentiates the KIA dealer from other brands. Nationally, it helps brand KIA overall.

Copy-cats ads are ineffective in any medium and don’t let you break out of the pack. Challenge your designers, media consultants or agencies to give you something different to make you stand out in your market.

The Walk-away:  When it comes to advertising, don’t follow someone else’s style. Differentiation is key. Run your own race. Take a different approach.