How appealing is your advertising to consumers?

The number of advertising vehicles that are available today for businesses to get their message out to consumers is staggering.

The number of advertising vehicles that are available today for businesses to get their message out to consumers is staggering. From social media to specialty to the traditional forms of print and broadcast, the opportunities to reach your potential customers are only limited by your advertising budget.

Despite this abundance of media, the basic messaging and techniques of advertising have not changed in centuries. Yet we still see advertising that simply does not reach out to capture the consumer’s attention despite what type of media is being used.

No matter what you have to offer your messaging should do at least one of three things … satisfy a need, create a positive association or even create fear. Yes fear and I will explain that further on in this column.

Let’s look at each of these tried and true techniques.

Ads should satisfy a need. We are all aware of the basic needs for security, health, family and shelter. There are however many more that can be used to appeal to your potential customer.

How about the need for acceptance or excitement. This is not hard to imagine as I’m sure you can name dozens of very successful companies and products that build their campaigns around these emotions.

Moving into other areas, there is the need for change, the need to be attractive, the need to be seen as keeping up or at the leading edge of technology, society or to use an old adage … the need to be the first on the block.

Another technique is to build your advertising around associations. By this I mean positioning your product or service to be associated with values, lifestyles or even personalities.

We are all aware of products that use personalities to sell their products. People like to be associated with wealth, luxury, success or fame. But selling by association does not stop there.

Campaigns can also be built around people’s desire to be seen as an independent, non-conformist who belongs to an elite segment of society. This kind of advertising is simply appealing to everyone’s ego … and we all have one.

The last of my three tactical examples is to use fear. In this case I am not talking about being afraid of ghosts, goblins or Freddy Krueger. I’m talking about fear of failure, poverty, sickness, crime or the future.

There are many products out there that use a form of this technique to sell. Call to mind the ads built around security systems, anti-aging products, failure to provide for retirement or the simple fear of having your teeth fall out if you happen to wear dentures.

Fear advertising is not negative advertising. We all have our fears and if we can find a product that mitigates these fears or makes them go away all-together then we are more prone to be swayed to buy that product or service.

Many products and services can be marketed using a variety of techniques, however it must be stressed that each ad message should highlight only one. Trying to cram too many different concepts into one message will only weaken your main message.

You should remember that the most successful advertising works if you use repetition. In other words develop your advertising so that no matter where you run it, you do so with frequency so that people will recognize it and be more apt to put you at the top of their awareness level.

I can only touch on just a few techniques in this column that will help improve your advertising. No matter what you use, remember good copywriting is always key to the success of an ad. Your headline, graphics, in other words the first impression you make must grab the consumer’s attention. This basic principle applies to every form of communication

One last point. Always remember to follow the 5 Ws of who, what, where, when and why. When you proofread your ad, if you are able to answer each of these questions, you are on track to ensuring your ad has the right appeal.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via e-mail at

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