Ad Lessons from Political Campaigns – Part 2

‘Tis still the season of political advertising and now that both major party conventions are over, the real advertising begins. If you ever think the age of big media advertising is over, just check on political campaigns. Yes, modern campaigns now effectively use social media, BUT (and it’s a big BUT) in addition to mainstream media, not in replacement of it. Why?

Candidates Need to Be Credible.

Just because a candidate says he’s the greatest doesn’t cut it. People can too easily ignore that message

The key is gaining credibility in endorsements. It’s the reason candidates value them so highly. People like to know what others are thinking and endorsement lets them jump on a trusted bandwagon. Consider your business as a candidate for consumer trust and dollars. To gain their trust, or vote, you need to be credible.

How can you gain credibility? Do what the candidates do. Get interviewed, get written about, get quoted.

How to apply it: Read the business and other sections of your newspaper and look for opportunities to pitch yourself to the appropriate editor. If there’s a new business section, send the business editor a press release on your new opening. If there’s an ongoing feature on wellness, and your business is in fitness, let the editor know what your area of expertise is and how you can offer information that may be of use in a story.

Not sure how to get started? Contact a local PR pro. If you’re comfortable doing your own PR, just make sure you’re pitching the right people about your story or area of expertise. Here’s one way to electronically pitch a story to The Press. But the best way is to get a name and contact them directly.

THEN:  If you’re printed, promote your coverage. Put a quote in an ad; frame the article and hang it up in your business; tweet about it on Twitter, or post a link to the story in Facebook. You can now promote  your increased credibility just as the candidates do!

The Walk-away: People are more receptive to advertising messages from credible sources. Use third-party mentions  by a credible source as proof that you’ve got “great legs, and soon the rest of the community will be checking out your “legs” (ahem, ad claims) as well.

What You Can Learn from Political Campaign Ads

‘Tis the season of political advertising. It’s a great opportunity to dissect effective campaign ad techniques in influencing voters, and learn how you can adopt them to influence consumer interest in your business.

Here are just the first two:

  1. Bragging Needs Bragging Rights
  2. The Hmmm Factor

We’ll cover more in future posts. You’ll likely notice highlighted similarities in each technique.There’s a reason for that. Each technique is designed to get a candidate noticed, and each is counter-intuitive to Basic Advertising Wisdom – Tell Everyone Why You’re So Great. Below each is a practical way on how to apply the technique in business advertising.

Bragging Needs Bragging Rights.  Just because you say you’re the greatest doesn’t cut it. People expect you to say you’re the best in an ad, so they can too easily ignore that message

BUT … if someone else says you’re great, then you have bragging rights. It’s the reason top brands spend big dollars on celebrity endorsements, and the reason political candidates from both parties get Keynote Speakers at their conventions. The message is: “Don’t take my word for it. Listen to these guys tell you how great I am.”

How to apply it:  Smart companies let you know their endorsements. There are many companies making sure their ads say they won a “Best of the Press” citation. Make sure to use your ads to announce whenever you are mentioned as top in your category either from a contest, reader survey, or article.

The Hmmm Factor. The goal of many political ads is to get a potential voter to say “Hmmm, didn’t think of that.” That  “Hmmm,” or  “Brain Pause” is frequently what gets a campaign humming, and a key reason political ads go negative. Positive doesn’t work as well. Why?

Just because you say you’re the greatest doesn’t cut it. People expect you to say you’re the best in an ad, so they can too easily  ignore that message

BUT … if a candidate or PAC says the other guy is not so great, a voter may say “Hmmm,” and process the ad as new “information” rather than an ad.

How to apply it:  It is not recommended to go negative in your ads on the competition. It is, however, important to get the reader to “pause” and consider your ad as information rather than a pitch. Consider ads that are Q and As, provide an insight into your commitment to the community, or find a way to personalize your company through the ad copy. The new information can get them to say “Hmmm,” and that pause means they’ve stopped to take time to consider your message.

The Walk-away: Politicians use political ads because they work. Consider the technique behind the ad and how you might be able to use it to give your ads the influence factor that drives traffic and attention to your business.

Packaging – The Frequently Overlooked Marketing Key

Every marketing student learns about the five “p’s” of marketing – Pricing, Place, Product, Promotion, and People. The missing “P” is packaging, which some will teach is part of Product, and others will claim is part of Promotion. Either way, it’s frequently the forgotten child of marketing that can spell business success or failure.

A key case in point is Coca-Cola. Without a doubt, Coke is always discussed in conversations about great brands. Recently, the story of Coke was featured on CBS Sunday Morning, itself a perennial news brand. As the story goes, Coca-Cola was so successful, that me-too products popped up around the globe. In a marketing meeting, Coke executives realized their brand franchise was in danger, and decided to invent brand packaging – the now iconic coke bottle – so that even in the dark, by feel alone, a consumer would know “the real thing” from a substitute. When aluminum cans became the norm, color became a larger concern for differentiating the brand, and Coke’s “red” became another text-book marketing example of the importance of color in serious brand management.

How does this apply to you if you’re a small to mid-sized business not of Coke caliber? Don’t underestimate packaging as a key differentiating factor. Packaging means everything from how you label your business to how you package your goods and services. Consider these examples:

  • Where The Art Is – This party decorations firm located in Paramus, NJ was literally started out of a garage. The decorations are unique and memorable, with many centerpieces kept for years to come in the homes of the guests and/or hosts. Under each piece is the company’s label with contact information. If you want a party decorator years later, you’ll be able to find Where The Art Is due to a simple packaging label.
  • Chico’s – Now a well known women’s wear franchise, the store endeared itself to women through a wrinkle-free travel line that was also figure forgiving. Priced high, consumers don’t feel cheated as each purchase is carefully wrapped generously in beautiful tissue paper and each bag is tied off with rainbow ribbons. Both touches are not necessary and add extra expense, but both are part of the Chico’s experience and brand.
  • Two Tin Crows – This unique gift store in Northfield, NJ (outside of Atlantic City), makes sure that gifts are beautifully wrapped using bags folded just so. It’s a simple technique, but one done exquisitely by the owner. It takes the added expense of gift wrapping off the consumer and makes the purchase that much easier. The point of these three examples is that it only takes a little extra effort to make your packaging work wonders for you as a differentiating value proposition.

The Walk-away: Take a look at your packaging, from your windows to your logo. Are you doing all you can to put your best look — if not foot — forward? Packaging is a Key “P” in Marketing.

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.