Recipe for Effective Advertising

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Mary Lempke, Media Coordinator


  • Your company or brand
  • Market Mentors

Grease elbows thoroughly; brainstorm and consider our top five tips:

  • Define what you want the ad to accomplish 
  • Define your target audience
  • Answer the question: “What’s in it for the customer?”
  • Declutter your messaging
  • Make an authentic offer or call to action

Advertising is everywhere. This article by Bloomberg Businessweek highlights some extreme places that businesses are now considering to compete for your attention — among the most unusual: eggs with logos and puns by media giant CBS; math tests (yep, $10.00 for a quiz and $30 for a final exam); and even benches with raised lettering, where people who sit down walk away with advertising imprinted on the back of their thighs. At the end of the day, these efforts all have to translate into revenue or what’s the point? As a media veteran, I have spent years developing, writing and even sharing advertising concepts. Among the most effective forms of advertising is broadcast, because you can bring together sight and sound stimulants that are just not possible in other formats like print. If you find yourself wondering what you need to put together an effective commercial, consider these paragraphs food for thought.

Believe it or not, the best commercial isn’t necessarily the funniest or most “creative” whiz-bang production of the year. The best commercials are the most effective commercials.  If you search your memory, you might be able to cite a few great commercials. You’ll probably remember a few that were very clever or funny, but you just can’t seem to remember the brand name or even what the product was. Hmm.

Commercials come at you quickly. Over the years, the ads have become shorter and shorter and are usually seen and heard in the context of a commercial “set”, a handful of other messages, all running one right after the other, competing for your attention. The commercial must make an impact immediately, or it’s lost.

Whether it’s TV video or radio, here are five basics to build on when it’s time to make your commercial a reality.

  1. What do you want the commercial to do? Do you want to get word out about a sale? Announce a great new product in-stock? Maybe your image needs massaging. Determine this early on and save yourself a lot of re-writes.
  2. Who is your customer? Give some thought as to whom you want to reach. Then keep them foremost in your mind as your message is crafted.
  3. Tell the audience why they need your product or service. Allow the audience to “see” him or herself doing what you want them to do. Answer the question, “what’s in it for me?” Think about what motivates the customer you want to reach.

This Old Spice ad might illustrate the point well enough…

4) Simplicity rules. Allow the audience the proper amount of information to answer your call to action. However, loading up the commercial with more information than is necessary is counterproductive. Sorting through clutter makes remembering the key information more difficult. Let’s take location for example: everyone can agree that it’s important that your customer knows where to find you. Giving the audience a visual cue of your location, or a point of reference such as a landmark, will get more people to your door than a busy stream of numbers in a long address.

5) I could tell you in this final item about the importance of making an offer in your ad copy, but I feel I must use this opportunity to call attention to something equally important; beware the temptation to claim to be something you (or the product) are not. The customer will never trust you again.

There, now. Ready to make a commercial? If it all seems a bit daunting, don’t worry; you can always put it in the hands of professionals, we can help.