How Effective Is YOUR Advertising?

There is a ton of advertising in the world today, in fact studies show that consumers are typically exposed to 1200 ads per day, yet most only notice 76 of them. Of course some audiences are exposed to many more so it’s definitely a harsh market out there. Today, it seems that it’s just not enough to toot your horn, advertising “BUY NOW!” at your prospects. Now you need to deliver your message in a way which captures and subtly directs their attention to your message. Thankfully though, by avoiding some common pitfalls and implementing just a couple of simple techniques, you can increase your advertising effectiveness exponentially! So, over my next few articles I’ll be revealing some fundamentals which will help you to better your branding and advertising. Off we go…

Target your prospects with sniping accuracy.

Aim and FIRE your message at the right spot for the greatest impact. Without a doubt the greatest thing you could possibly use to develop your advertising is to aim it at the right audience. Now you’re probably thinking, “Well durr… of course you don’t sell sewing machines in a gun magazine!” Although what I’m trying to show you is that even the most minute facet of your advertising can have a dramatic impact on the way people perceive your product, service and brand. Furthermore by having a distinctive and clear identity in the minds of consumers, your advertising will stick out so much more than you could possibly imagine. So, let me ask you this now – How targeted is your advertising really?

When people see an ad, they take in much more information than you would ever imagine. They establish the brand’s identity by associating it with all of the information inside the ad and its environment. That is, they take in:

Colours, Images, Symbols, Metaphors and Writing style
The surrounding environment
Value and pricing
And hopefully the product/service/brand being promoted

All of these factors contribute significantly to whether or not you get your message across. Ever heard of the saying, “A picture tells a thousand words,”? Yep, this especially rings true in good advertising.

Colours and Advertising

You might have heard before that different colours have different emotions. Well, it’s all true. Despite the contextual differences which change them, they ultimately have a profound impact on the delivery of your message. For your convenience I have taken some juicy information from this site here:

Red: danger, excitement, fire, passion, blood, fight or flight, some sexual connotation.
Purple: Wealth, royalty, sophistication, intelligence.
Blue: Quietness, serenity, truth, dignity, constancy, reliability, power.
Black: Sophistication, elegance, power, rebellion.
White: Purity, cleanness, luminosity, vacuum.
Yellow: Warmth, the sun for many cultures, brightness, joy if little saturated.
Green: Nature, fresh, vegetation, health, green/blues are the favourites of consumers

You might want to pick a colour and use it as a recurring theme throughout your advertising or you might want to target different audiences and use different colours to differentiate them. There is an important point to keep in mind though, colours draw their meaning from the context they’re in. So, if I could just get you to imagine for a moment… red mixed with a picture of people doing business may elicit a different emotion than what you might expect from using blue in the same picture.


This also brings me to my next point. Pictures. Try and get a clear picture of what your product, service and brand means and use elements of that picture in your ads. For maximum impact, you could even use symbols and write with some metaphors to engage your audience. The Red Cross does this very well, mostly its due to them being first in best dressed. By getting them to decipher the message you are almost challenging their mind to receive your message and look deeper into your brand meaning. Just look at how popular the TV show Lost is. Another company which does a good job of this is Microsoft and their XBOX 360 Launch – Do you remember those strange websites where you had to decipher problems to get the hidden message?

Marketing with Appeal

From what I know, there are three different types of appeal your ‘voice’ can have: From the weakest to the strongest, they are similarity, familiarity and likeability appeals. By knowing about these types of appeal you can effectively leverage attributes about your product/service and brand. Similarity appeal is where your brand is the same as your target audience, such as in the case of Hard Yakka. Familiarity appeal occurs when people see you around so often that they begin to trust you – when was the last time you questioned the hygiene of food at MacDonald’s? Probably the best appeal you can instill is that of likeability which is where people like your brand out of it being cool. I can’t quite explain it, but have you ever wanted a Porsche? Anyway, if you can find out what draws your customers to your brand then you could make your ads stick out like a diamond in the rough.

Also, when designing ads, marketers have to determine whether they want to use fear, humour or information to catch their audience’s attention. Each type of ad has its benefits, but humor ads tend to be remembered better. If you look into using one of these, think about these points:

Fear: Don’t over do the fear, or otherwise people will disregard your message, thinking, ‘It’ll never happen to me.’
Humour: Don’t overuse the humour or people won’t get your real message.
Information: Make sure you capture people’s attention with relevant and motivating information.

Product Attributes

If you even want to take things a step further, then how about focusing on attributes of your product? If you are selling a book to grandmothers who want to learn how to use a computer, then you might want to use bright colours and large text so they can use it properly. You might even use language inside the product which appeals to this audience. The fact of the matter is your target audience won’t buy something which doesn’t help or appeal to them. So go and find out what they want and incorporate it into your product. If you’re lucky enough to be able to talk with your customers, find out what they like and don’t like about your product.

A Projective Technique

I’m going to go a little off topic here but a great way to ask customers how you could improve your product is to use what we call a projective technique. Approach them saying, “Hey [customer], [blah, blah]… I have had some [X] customers who have only been moderately satisfied with my product. What do you think these customers might enjoy in the product.” This will avoid putting them on the spot and will also tap into what they REALLY think, based on their core attitudes, values and beliefs.

‘Putting things right’

Finally, determine whether or not you are you distributing it to the right people in the right places. It’s probably not the best idea having a thrift shop in the trendy part of town. Likewise, it’s probably not a good idea selling burgers off your website and deliver them via snail mail. Keep in mind, that if you are to maintain your image, you must place everything you can about your brand in places you want to associate with your brand. So, if you have a purely online presence then why not try advertising offline a bit more, to get people thinking about it in other places? Also, if you sell cheap products in a store, you could try re-decorating your website or store to reflect the fact that it offers cheap prices and lots of value. Take for example Bunning’s Warehouse in Australia – They purposefully leave things in cardboard boxes to make them look cheaper. There is so much I could go on about but I’ll save it for next time.

Before I let you go though, you will want to take all these things into account when you’re developing strategies and tactics to propel your advertising and branding to success. I can’t stress enough how important it is for small businesses to create a solid and specific identity which helps to position them away from their competitors. It can be suiidal for a startup if you can’t get it right – I guarantee it. Put what you’ve learned here into practice and your advertising will certainly sing!

Best of luck branding,
Robert Kingston.

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  1. I couldn’t agree more on all points. Whether or not they realize it, most business are projecting some sort of brand and chances are if they’re not aware of it, it’s doing more harm than good! For example, quick and dirty sales collateral done in-house with a logo designed by the CEO using MSPaint, ten years ago during the start-up phase, is more than likely going to impress upon the viewer that the company has no advertising budget. If they have no advertising budget, they must not be doing well. If they’re not doing well, they’re probably not good at what they do!

    Anyway I’m glad to see someone bring the importance of branding – and the details of it – into clear focus. Thanks for the great article.

  2. Robert Kingston says

    Thanks Luke, I’m glad to hear you found it useful.

    I think it’s interesting to see the sort of role branding plays in marketing today. As most products are basically the same these days, marketers now rely on building a brandname to acctually generate demand by appealing to people’s wants. And the best way to go about appealing to peoples wants is by creating a facade around the product which makes people believe that it will offer them more than the other brand. It’s a game of value, and the way consumers think, act and feel determines who and how you should target people.

    It’s almost sad to me that the majority of small businesses out there today don’t take note of this fundamental tool… (Heh… I could go on and on!)

    Anyway, your site looks very nice (Business must be good ;)).


  3. How about the commercial model? Just thinking we have this person in the Philippines by the name of Sharon Cuneta who is ranked in the top 100 of the most powerful people in the Philippines, come to think of it she’s a celebrity and the people included in the top 100 are politicians and billionaires. She is said to turn a product into a multi-million success overnight. Just pin her smile on the billboard together with the brand name in any highway or expressway, then product sales sky rocket to the top overnight and most of the products she endorsed came from behind to instantly rise to the top and become the number 1 brand. Anyways, her product line includes celfone, food chains, ice cream, shipping and ain’t directly related to her celebrity status like vanity items but still her face just gets it done 🙂

    But I must say, if you can’t get a person like her, your suggestions are right on target.

  4. Hi Robert,

    I manage over 100 different companies marketing and advertising, online and offline, and I agree with your principles.

    The fundamental principle in my mind is, “Who is your potential customer” and “What is important to them… now” If you truely undertsand the people you’re trying to ‘help’ or sell to, you can do wonders.

    I look forward to following your thoughts, and more business owners learning from your thoughts. 🙂


  5. Hey Milo,
    Yeah, celebrities are a good way of getting publicity and whatnot. I guess that celebrity in the phillipines is pretty high up and loved by all! By the sounds of it she must be the perfect model to use to endorse products with. Although in many other countries (particularly in Western societies), we don’t really have such an icon which we can use to promote our products (and if we do they’re real expensive ;)) and therefore we have to use celebrities which specifically appeal to our audiences. I know this is a long shot but I just watched a video about people repressing .
    So as an example, say for a moment you had a famous gay icon, recognised by the entire country, supporting gay rights …yada yada… and you decided to use them to endorse your product. Having them side by side would influence people to make associations between the gay guy’s identity and your brand. So unless
    (fantastic viral campaign right there), it may not be the best idea. Thanks for your comment, Milo.

  6. Bah… Thats the last time I use hyperlinks in my comment! 😛

    Anyway, Just thought I’d add in that I totally agree with you Paul and Simon – The customer focus is in and the product focus is OUT. “Being nice to the hand that feeds you”, develops good karma – so if you’re reading this right now, take a dive into your customers’ lives for better branding insight.


  7. If your products/services does relate closely to what your customers is looking for, then it will most likely to sell.

    The saying Customers always come first has its value.

  8. Rob stop posting so many comments to make your articles look popular…



    p.s. I’ll need your consulting services soon on a project!

  9. Hey Pete,
    Do you think it works? 😛 I’ll be in touch with you soon mate.

  10. What I really admire here is how concise and well explained your points are, which is so helpful to those who are using their online explorations to help them learn basic marketing techniques!

  11. It depends on my target market. Sometimes they really looks good and are very effective, sometime they dont even convert at all.