Making Ads to Sing to Your Target Market

Following my article on targeting last week, you may be wondering, “So Robert, what on earth do I say in my advertising?” Good question. I think a lot of what you should say in your advertising relies upon who your target market is and what you’re selling. I see far too many businesses these days opting for the old sales letter on their website, hoping that their prospects will read it all (including the subliminal messages) and buy what they’re selling right off the bat! I’m not saying sales letters are a bad thing, but they are best used sparingly for major purchases. However with most websites using them incorrectly, they might as well be fishing for Tuna with a tea cup!

Four Consumption Archetypes

So what does a Small Business have to do? If you think about it there are only four types of consumption that you can have:

  • A major purchase based on factual information.
  • A major purchase based on emotions and feelings.
  • A minor purchase based on factual information.
  • A minor purchase based on emotions and feelings.

For these four archetypes, you need to take different approaches to deliver your core message. Why? Imagine selling a Louis Vuitton bag to a girl through a sales letter, purely from the factual information about the bag such as its make, dimensions, capacity and features. Of course that would be a terrible idea. Now, think about selling a multi-millionThis would be a good time to use it as people aren't so involved in the purchase.. dollar water treatment facility to a company by showing them a picture, captioned “Buy now! Half price for a limited time only!” It just doesn’t work!

Two Knobs on the Advertising Stereo

There are basically two points to keep in mind to tweak your advertising message:

  1. What sort of information are you going to provide in your advertisements?
  2. How much information will you provide?

What Information Goes Best in YOUR Ads?

With regards to the sort of information you are going to provide to your customers, you need to determine who your target market is. The reason being is that different people tend to be more receptive to different types of information. For example, when was the last time you saw a girl’s heart melt over a romantic drama? Also, when was the last time, your tech-savvy friend recited the specifications of his latest computer? Of course you may find the above examples obvious but I see way too many small business owners falling into the trap of competing on price and selling with factual attributes instead of emotional attributes.

Marketing by Feel

Many studies indicate that as a result of so much advertising, people are beginning to resort more and more to purchasing goods due to their emotional benefits. Our sub-conscious minds don’t process how many Horsepower a car has or how many clock cycles a computer’s processor can perform each second. They focus on how powerful that car is – or how blisteringly fast a computer is. In fact it almost seems that nowadays, people who base their decisions on factual information are doing it to achieve emotional benefits like those found in computers and cars – where the speed is supposed to correlate to the size of their …erm… socks (and you know what that means). The emotional effect is actually heightened for those people who are more emotive than others, so go figure. If you target emotional consumers then think about how you could describe the product in a way which makes them experience the product through emotions.

Pushing the Bottom Line

Factual information definitely does come into play especially in B2B markets. Your boss doesn’t want to know how it will affect your customer’s feelings; he just wants to know the bottom line – “How much will this purchase increase our profits by?” If the other brand is cheaper and offers more features then they will buy it. So, if you go with this sort of message content, then you want to emphasize the factual benefits of it – like it’s capacity, its performance over previous models, dollar figures and basically anything which you can quantify.

How Much Do They Want to Know?

Chances are, the more involved someone is in making a decision, the more they want to know about the product. So, if you don’t give them all the information which they want to know, they will go and find out for themselves. If your consumers don’t spend much energy on purchasing the product/service then you don’t need to write them an essay on the benefits they will obtain from buying your brand of candy. Best practice though is just to provide the information tucked away neatly on your website or in brochures so they can find out about particular information. Otherwise, if you don’t provide them with enough they will forget about you or leave you hanging while they seek other sources of information which is often not the best place for your consumers to find out about you from.

It’s amazing how just a little bit of thought can amount to massive success for your advertising – just keep it in mind when you’re working on them. Feel free to leave some comments. Until next time,

Best of Luck Branding,
Robert Kingston.

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  1. Great post. I think the problem also is that people don’t realize that customers don’t usually buy on the first visit, you have to someone collect their information so that you can follow up with them and remind them about your product or service.

  2. Simply put …. Know your customers and use their hot buttons to sell.

  3. Hey Nat and Igor,
    Definitely. The better you know your customers, the better you will be able to target them with your advertising. You’ll find that in another article I wrote, I talked about how you can’t sell something unless someone wants it.

  4. Robert. great post as usual. The example I like to use to illustrate your point is Apple iPods. They are not sold as 80GB hard drives. They are sold as 100 hours of movies or 20,000 songs in your pocket. Big difference. It’s one reason why Apple is the dominant player. They didn’t only think about the device; they also were the only hardware company to provide a song library with over 2 million titles that works perfectly with the device (in fact they’re inseparatable). It’s a pretty easy argument that a Nomad is a better device, but look at the market share to see the real winner.

    People need the specs, but they need an emotional hook to pay attention first.

    One of the harder aspects to teach people is how messaging is different by title. You sell an executive on benefits and you sell a staffer on features. Execs don’t care about features, they want results and junior staffers can’t wrap their heads around benefits or results because they do not have the necessary view of the bigger picture.

  5. Thanks Nick…

    Emotions are extremely powerful chemicals, are’t they?

  6. ROb~

    Dig your articel. LOTS of juicy info. I tend to be an emotional consumer (go figure!)…so I really resonated with yoru car analogy in the section above about marketing by “feel”.

    I’ve had my eye on the sexy new Mustangs. I don’t even particularly like sports cars, nor Fords for that matter. Yet, there’s something about the messaging around the ads – both print and video that always make me stop, look and listen.

    I concur on all previous comments. Advertising is a lot like building a relationship. You gotta learn the hot buttons, what makes ’em tick, what turns ’em on! And then continue to “woo” them over time. Being flexible and creative enough to know when to tweak the approach here and there.

    Thanks for always making me think in new and inspiring ways!!

    Kammie K.

  7. Cheers Kammie,

    I’m glad you found it useful. I must say you’re articles have been inspiring ideas in me too.


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  9. Hey Rob,

    I guess it goes to show that advertising can exist along a continuum between logic and emotion.

  10. Rob - says

    Appealing to the customers emotions and not just giving them facts will seal a deal. Male car buyers or gadget fans may like lots of numbers and facts but buyers of beauty products want to know it will make them look younger for longer. In the iPod example earlier Apple didnt just sell to gadget fans but by appealing to the emotions of users by stating how there music experience will be improved it sold to a wider audience who may not have bothered.

    Before the iPod only MAC users who were usually techies would have known about Apple but fortunately with there Photoshop, Illustrator, flash and Dreamweaver software having a strong design base and used by advertising and media trends setters the iPod had a great launch to the wider audience.



  11. Hi

    Just read your article on Branding.

    Wish to ask u some mktg queries on a separate platform.

    Pl. let me know yr email id.

    From India

  12. Worth eye says

    Flash and Dreamweaver software having a strong design base and used by advertising and media trends setters the iPod had a great launch to the wider audience.

  13. Well, Customers will buy on your web site if they feel that they have eough trust on you. So after you decorate your site and done with making sure that you have the best interface, you may also include some customer’s review or ratings about you and how you do your business.