The field of advertising and marketing communications is constantly experiencing changes with every new introduction of a communication channel. Nowadays, products and brands aren’t just making themselves heard of television, print publications, and radio, but they are crossing over to more interactive platforms such as the Internet and offline event activations. What is still alarming is that given that there are already so many ways to express brand communications, there are still ads that fall short of getting the message across. Part of this problem can be attributed to the fact that there is clearly a lack of strategy in the overall development process.
Strategy should be the key foundation of any marketing piece. Ads should reflect the brand or product’s understanding of its key audience in order to get into their psyche and relate to them, making it easier to get the desired message across. Even if an ad is crafted in a memorable and creative manner, the communication objectives should be met in order for the ads to be deemed effective. For example, if a consumer is struck by an ad he sees on television because he or she found it funny, do you think he or she will remember the joke or the brand of the product it is trying to sell?
Drafting a strategy begins with identifying what is the current problem or situation. Most products appeal to consumers simply because they provide answers to problems, such as finding a suitable detergent to wash away tough stains or an alternative to coffee that is mildly caffeinated. An advertiser should first identify what the problem is in order to be able to sell the product, because this is the only way they can bridge the communication gap. When advertisers successfully identify the problem, they can use this to appeal to the consumer through use of vivid language to remind them of why or how bothersome the problem is, or if not obvious, show them that there is indeed a problem to take care of.
Once consumers see that the advertiser understands their concerns, they are willing to spare a few minutes of their time to hear what they have to say and how proposed solutions can help their situation. This part is very crucial in getting the message across, as the strategy will come into play. Advertisers must explain to the end consumers how they will benefit from the presented solution. What will change for them when they agree to the proposal? Will life for them be easier or better? It also helps to understand at this point how different the product is from the competition, as the advertiser can fall into the trap of using the same tired arguments and impersonal language. If there is nothing different in the solution presented, then the strategy must again be revisited, or else all efforts will just be futile.
The last part of the strategy is always have a call to action. For most, the effectiveness of the ad is measured by the response consumers make—if they buy the product, or switch from their competitors, etc. A call to action is a good way to measure how consumers understood your ad, and of course, tell if the strategy was indeed a good one.