"Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising."
- Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Goal! It's World Cup time again and there is a great deal of shooting going on. The best shots will hit the back of the net while others will miss by a millimetre or a mile. Goals are as important in advertising as they are in soccer.
Advertisers - businesses that use media for promotion - set goals, or desired outcomes, for advertising. Keep in mind, however, that the overall aim of advertising is to introduce buyers to sellers. There are several possible goals:
* Building awareness of a product or service: "I want teenagers to know that we now sell a cool brand of shoes."
* Creating desire for a product: "A celebrity you admire wears these shoes."
* Drawing traffic to a retail location for a sale: "Our cool shoes are on sale on Saturday."
* Encouraging web or telephone traffic: "Check out styles, colours and sizes, then buy online through our website."
* Rewarding loyal customers: "Win a prize with every purchase during our Check Your Sole at the Door promotion."
It is ineffective to try to achieve more than one goal in one message, so each goal should have its own message (or ad). Goals are precious. They should be clearly and carefully defined, because only then can they be used to create dynamic and effective ads.
Ads may be in printed formats such as newspapers, magazines, flyers or billboards, or electronic formats such as radio, television and the web. Ads can trail behind a plane, decorate a bus, poster a subway station or add flair to a park bench. Buildings can also act as giant billboards.
In Toronto, Apple is having an iPod ad painted on the side of a building on Queen Street in the Beach, one of the busiest weekend destinations for tourists and Torontonians in the city. The painting process in itself acts as a promotion as people gather on the sidewalk to watch and question the painters. Even before the ad is identifiable, each inquiry reinforces the brand image and builds awareness. The two-storey mural will be seen by thousands of motorists and walkers. Smart move by Apple.
Armed with a goal, target market and media choice then, a professional can craft an attention-grabbing ad to convey a message in a smart and effective way.
This professional may be the department or person in a company responsible for advertising creative work.
It may be an outside individual, or another company such as an advertising agency.
The scope of the project (one ad in a local paper versus a provincewide campaign) will determine what kind of professional is employed.
A word of caution here: Your brilliant teenaged daughter who designed her own website and loves to doodle should not be a contender.
Design and writing for advertising requires education, experience and talent. As much as I respect them, the graphics people working at magazines and newspapers either understand your business nor your advertising aim. They may make a pretty ad for you for free, but they have scant time to devote to achieving your goal. For positive results, choose professionals.
And remember the importance of consistency in advertising. A new ad or campaign should use elements that are common to your other printed materials and ads. Your logo, for instance, should be exactly the same colour as it is in your store sign and on your letterhead. It should be used in the same way. The fonts (type styles) chosen should match those used in other materials. Consistency breeds recognition, which is extremely desirable.
There are important considerations when choosing a person or company to turn your goals into results. This professional should have a portfolio of previous work that achieved goals.
This applies to an internal department as well as external people. They should know and understand your business, its long- and short-term goals, its challenges and its clients. Keep in mind, however, that the professional you employ does not have to be an expert in your field, but they must be one in theirs. Check references.
To construct one ad, different talents are required. The person who writes the compelling words is the copy writer. The art director chooses arresting images and graphics. Between them, they are responsible for taking your goal and thinking up a creative concept that will achieve it. The concept ends up with the designer who assembles the copy and specific images and/or graphics, and lays out an ad.
In large advertising agencies, there are layers of people involved in this work. Smaller agencies have fewer people who wear multiple hats. And in some cases, one superbly multi-talented individual can do it all. The size of the shop chosen will depend on the scope of the project and the largesse of the budget.
The best, most effective ads are clever, deceptively simple, and therefore, highly memorable.
Think of "Rrroll Up The Rim To Win.”
This ad campaign was first developed and executed 20 years ago. It ran on radio and television with in-store support advertising. The goal: Reward loyal customers to keep them coming back. The result: "Promotions like our Roll Up The Rim To Win contest are tremendously popular with our loyal customers," says Tim Barnes, Tim Hortons brand manager. "It's so exciting to see the reaction on a customer's face when they win a prize. People are delighted when they win a doughnut or a coffee, so you can imagine how thrilling it is when a customer wins a grand prize."
When Tim Hortons wants to boost sales, it promotes an item such as its new caramel doughnuts. "When we launch a new product, we see an increase in sales as customers try it," says Jodi Bond, from the company's media-relations department.
Small companies benefit in the same way by smart advertising. A campaign does not need the scope of Tim Hortons to score. The trick is to advertise with the same kind of impact.
Set clear goals. Target your customers directly and carefully through media.
Hit them hard with a high-impact message. Take your best shot ... and bring your audience to their feet. Accept the applause gracefully. You are an advertising winner.
(Brenda McMillan has more than 10 years experience in advertising. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)