“It’s Not About You,” and 4 Other Lines to Inform Your Advertising Creative


David Ogilvy, considered by some to be the father of modern advertising, once said, “What you say in advertising is more important than how you say it.” While this is true — especially in the age of the informed consumer that demands transparency — your creative execution (“how you say it”) is extremely important.

Nothing explains it better than another quote, this one from Leo Burnett, creator of characters like Tony the Tiger: “I am one who believes that one of the greatest dangers of advertising is not that of misleading people, but that of boring them to death.”

Here are five other lines to keep in mind when developing your advertising creative:

 1. “It’s Not About You.”

This axiom can be particularly difficult for business owners and marketers. Because they know the product so well, perhaps even including why it was developed in the first place, they assume that they have their audience down pat. They may be extremely familiar with their audience’s needs and pain points, but that doesn’t mean they know what they like, where they consume media, what sources they trust, and the list goes on.

A blunt but necessary message for marketers: it doesn’t matter what you enjoy or what you think your audience wants to hear. What will actually resonate with your audience and inspire action is the only thing that matters.

In order for your creative to be successful, you need to base your strategy on a foundation of market and audience research. The actual language and imagery also needs to reflect your audience’s pain points, interests, and the ways they prefer to engage with brands.

 2. “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

Think about impact your creative has on your audience’s ability to take action. In a recent post, we discussed how the number of ideas packed into an advertisement directly impacts the audience’s level of recall. Namely, spots with the most ideas crammed into either a :60 or :30 spot had the poorest recall.

Imagine a home improvement business is going to begin offering DIY classes covering a variety of topics. There are multiple classes with different dates, registration deadlines, expert instructors, and details — not all of that information belongs in a single ad, whether it’s a radio spot or digital banner. Instead, a promotion that sticks to one key message and limits the amount of information shared will improve engagement and memorability.

Clutter is possible on page and on-air. Cut your message down to its essentials, and deliver it in a concise, compelling way.

 3. “Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth.”

Brainstorming with your team can be a useful way to uncover ideas you hadn’t considered before. But beyond that, having too many people provide input into your creative will have an increasingly bad effect. We’ve discussed previously how too much input can be the secret ingredient to ineffective creative. At a minimum, you need to limit the creative involvement, so your brand can speak with one clear voice. Another option is to tap a media partner that can help with creative development, like Hubbard Chicago.

 4. “Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket.”

Today’s consumers are omni-shoppers, utilizing all sorts of devices and channels to help them make purchase decisions. Chances are good that one channel isn’t enough to meet your audience across touchpoints and develop the necessary frequency to encourage engagement and conversion.

For instance, a start up might believe that digital is all they need and decide against exploring other options. This excludes powerful outlets like radio, including its unparalleled reach and influence. Digital may offer results, but combining outlets — like radio and social media — can take those results to the next level. Armed with market research (and an expert partner), you can select the channels that will offer the best results as a part of your media mix.

 5. “If You Do What You’ve Always Done, You’ll Get What You’ve Always Gotten.”

This adage goes hand in hand with our last point. If you’re sticking to the same tactics and putting out the same message, you can expect the same old results. (Look up Einstein’s definition of insanity if you need more proof here.)

A company that’s willing to try new things while constantly keeping tabs on their audience will thrive. Social media is a great example; there was a time when people thought there was no place for business on social media. Today, businesses are expected to be there, and it’s a critical part of sharing content and engaging with customers and thought leaders.

Regularly (i.e., at least once a year) take the time to honestly evaluate your marketing plan. Review your current results in the context of past results and compare it to your latest market research. Most importantly, be sure that if you have a media partner (or when you look for one), they encourage growth and change by regularly bringing new ideas and options to the table. If they aren’t providing sustainable value that will keep you innovative and growing, then it’s time to find a new partner.

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