All things advertising

Types of Advertising

There are two basic types of print media advertisements – classified and display. Members of the public generally write classified advertisements. They are charged per line of space. You need to concentrate on display advertisements, which are drawn up by professionals and have a far greater impact on the public.

Targeting the Audience

The first step in designing or writing an advertisement is targeting the market group the product is aimed at. These target market groups are determined by factors such as age and gender. These target audiences are also typified by their habits, values and lifestyle choices. Targeting the audience not only offers direction in designing an advertisement but also helps advertisers decide when and where to use it.

Class Exercise       

Discuss with the class what their favourite clothing brands, snack foods and entertainment choices are. Ask them to identify the jingle or advertising slogans that accompany them and where they are most likely to encounter them (eg, in magazines, on the radio, on television etc). Set students the task of collecting 10 different print media display advertisements that target children or teenagers and have them identify the main techniques used in the advertisements to get the message across, eg: image, health, fashion and peer acceptance.

Buying motives

For display advertisements to be successful, they will probably have appealed to at least one of the seven basic buying motives. These are:

● Gain

● Security

● Interest

● Ease

● Imitation

● Pride

● Fear

Have students review the collected display advertisements geared towards their target audience and ask them to determine which of the buying motives each advertiser is appealing to.

How do they do it?

You’ve now seen how an advertiser targets his or her market and hits a nerve by hanging the advertisement on one or more buying motive. But, before they did this, they had to simply get the attention of a potential buyer long enough for him or her to read the advertisement.

Attention grabbers

The advertisement must catch the reader’s attention. Usually this is done through a headline. Ideally, the headline will tell the reader what the product will do, give reasons for having the product and mention the product favourably. Often headlines will:

● Appeal to curiosity

● Promise benefits

● Address the reader directly

An advertising headline is generally acknowledged as being worth about 90 per cent of the power of a newspaper headline. Keep it snappy, concise and active.

The art of persuasion

Advertising is a form of persuasive writing. In the “body”, or text, of the advertisement, the writer should tell readers what the product could do for them. This text should support the headline. It should convince the reader that the product/company has something special to offer and is better than the competition. This all has to be done as quickly as possible, before the reader loses interest, and should be structured with a beginning, middle and end. The beginning is usually the headline, the body must be persuasive and concise, and the ending, or “kicker”, has to spur the potential customer to action (purchase).

Advertisements appeal to both emotion and reason. The most effective messages have flair, humour and a catchy slogan or jingle.

Advertisements usually fall into two main categories – product advertising and image advertising. Product advertising aims to get consumers to buy a product immediately, while image advertising tries to build long-term loyalty. In both instances, however, readers want to know: “what’s in it for me?” So make sure the advertisement tells how the product will deliver the benefits. Finally, keep it simple. The text should be interesting and written in clear, simple words so it is easy to understand. It should project enthusiasm and honesty.

Power of the pen

In addition to capitalising on our hearts and minds, advertisers often cash in on the power of certain words. A Harvard University study identified the 12 most persuasive words used in advertisements. They were:

● You

● Health

● New

● Discover

● Proven

● Safe

● Easy

● Guarantee

● Free

● Money

● Love

● Results

Call to action

The final part of the advertisement’s text should be a “kicker”, or something geared to create a response to the advertisement’s message. These may be phrases such as “hurry – while stocks last!” “final three days” or “ring now!”

Putting it all together

For any advertisement to be effective, it has to be read. The layout and design techniques employed in an advertisement will affect whether or not it is seen and read, as will the advertisement’s placement and timing of publication.

For example, it is not much use to promote gas heating when it is hot; advertise skateboards in the financial section of the newspaper or bury interesting facts beneath a boring headline. In laying out an advertisement, remember the eye follows “reading gravity”, which moves from the upper left-hand corner to the bottom right-hand corner.

Therefore, the best place to put your “grabber”, or headline, is the top left-hand corner.