Not all ads are created equal.
There is a common misconception that great ads just come to people through “ah-ha!” moments like in Mad Men. A great ad is more than an idea, because it is built on and perfected.
So what makes a great advertisement? Take a look at the ingredients!
A Great Ad Has a Defined Purpose
You don’t advertise something just for the sake of it. An ad should have a goal, whether it’s to raise awareness for a cause, announce a new product, or create demand for a promotion; there is a point to the message. The more specific the purpose is, the easier it is to work in the appropriate direction.
A Great Ad Stands Out
Boring someone isn’t a strategy. Your message has to be noticed before it’s understood. Whether it’s with a captivating headline, colorful image, or a unique sound, a great ad captures attention.
The best way to stand out is to be unexpected. The average brain is bombarded with thousands of messages every day, so stopping to analyze each one would be impossible. To function without stopping every second, our brains have adapted to focus on what it deems important. It’s a survival instinct, and this includes unexpected messages.
This explains why we are more likely to notice a giant monster truck passing us on the side of the road as opposed to an everyday sedan. We adapt to what we’re used to and reserve our close attention to those that earn it.
Great ads stand out in a way that aligns with their intended message. Sending mixed signals can confuse viewers and grabbing their attention is useless if the message isn’t understood.
A Great Ad Says One Thing Really Well
After seeing an ad, the audience should come away with one clear understanding. The more information you include, the more they have to remember. It’s easier to remember one thing, so focus on conveying that one thing as best as you can.
Here’s a perfect example of Apple conveying something quickly and effectively.
This ad was brilliantly simple. It didn’t tell us how thin and sleek their product was, it showed us.
That simple visual told the whole story of the ad – The Macbook Air is sleek and portable.
A Great Ad Tells a Story
People don’t want to see ads, unless they’re during the Super Bowl. Why is the Super Bowl the exception? It’s because people anticipate entertaining ads. They want to be entertained, not “sold”.
This is accomplished through storytelling.
A good story will hold people’s attention. We’ve heard them from when we were children and enjoy them because we see ourselves in them. That’s when stories are successful. People find interest in relatable stories because they can better understand them.
It’s vital for your audience to care about your story because it will ensure their attention and will be easier to remember. But how do you get people to care about a story? It has to trigger their feelings.
Describing a story with the five senses will leverage emotions because they help people relive memories. For example, including the crackling sounds and smoky scent of a burning fire pit can help paint a picture of a bonfire or camping trip. Perfect for selling summer products!
People associate sensations with memories. The memories of these sensations help viewers form connections between a story and their own experiences. By appealing to someone’s memories, you’re appealing to their emotions.
Remember people can’t be told what to feel, only reminded of how they’ve felt.
A Great Ad Promotes its Brand
People are more receptive to stories from sources they trust. This is when your brand comes into play. A brand is the story of a business and every marketing effort writes a new chapter.
People are much more likely to identify with a brand’s set of core values than with a faceless business. By further perpetuating the values and characteristics that the brand stands for, an ad’s message can better resonate with its intended audience.
When a person relates to a story, they will be more likely to relate to the storyteller, in this case the brand. Associating their experiences with a story, which is told by a brand, can be the first step in establishing loyalty. This is partly why some people are adamant about one brand over another, even if the products are very similar. Take Coke vs. Pepsi as an example.
A Great Ad Speaks to a Specific Audience
There is no such thing as a perfect ad and there will never be an ad that is liked by everyone. The purpose of a campaign is to deliver a specific message to a specific audience. You can’t find something everyone will relate to. Everything from your message, to the colors and language you choose, and overall theme should all resonate with a specific type of person. Focus on earning the acceptance of potential customers, everyone else is a waste of time.
A Great Ad Has a Clear Call-to-Action
Once someone sees your ad, they should know what to do next. Whether it’s to click for more information, or visit your store on a certain date, the message should be received and they should know what to do to cash in on their incentive.
In short, great advertisements aren’t thought up, they’re built overtime through extensive research. Research defines the audience and assists with crafting the message. This simple message should stand out with a clear purpose, tell an emotional story to retain attention, and have a clear call-to-action.