What it is: Advertising is meant to sell a product or service as quickly as possible by explaining why potential customers might need it.
There are two schools of advertising. One school focuses on image advertising. This is the type of advertising that big corporations often use to present the company or product in a certain way to stir the public’s emotions in a favorable manner.
Watch ads for Coca-Cola and you’ll never see any ad mentioning the product ingredients or the benefits of drinking Coca-Cola (because there are none). Instead the ads highlight emotions such as showing a young couple sharing a Coke or a grandfather sharing a Coke with a grandson.
There’s nothing wrong with image advertising if you have the money to spend. The big problem with image advertising is that it never tells you why you should buy a particular product or service right away. If you don’t know why you would want that particular product or service, image advertising may make you feel good, but it won’t compel you to actually buy from that company.
That’s why image advertising is a waste of time and money. The purpose of advertising is to get people to buy. If you can make them feel emotionally happy before they buy, that’s fine, but you don’t want to just make people happy or else you’ll just waste your advertising money for nothing. The ultimate purpose of advertising is to get customers to spend money so that the cost of the advertising more than pays for itself through increased profits generated by the ad.
You can see how most companies waste money on image advertising. When Microsoft marketed their Surface tablets, they focused not on what the tablets could do for you, but that it looked good in a choreographed dance routine. Did that compel anyone to rush out and buy a Surface tablet? No, which meant that all the money Microsoft spent on advertising the Surface tablets were as good as flushed down the toilet.
Yet with few exceptions, Apple’s ads focus on what their products can do for you. By showing so many different ways their products work, Apple entices customers to line up outside their retail stores days in advance to get the latest products.
In their ad for the Apple Watch, the ad focuses exclusively on showing you what the Apple Watch can do. Chances are good one of those uses will appeal to you. In the process, the ad stirs your emotions by getting you excited about the product, not by getting you excited about the ad.
Once you know what a product can do for you, that will likely compel you to buy it. On the other hand, if an ad just makes you feel good, then you’ll be far less likely to rush out and buy that product. With many popular ads, people remember the ads but can’t recall what the ad was even trying to sell them.
Showing people features is far more enticing than getting them emotionally aroused. The purpose of advertising is to turn skeptics into paying customers as quickly as possible. Do that and the ad is a success. Fail to do that and the ad is a failure.
Focusing on features for the customers is a direct result of mail-order marketing. If you’ve ever gotten junk mail, you know that the printed ads have to capture your attention within seconds to compl you to keep reading. Then to decide to buy.
Direct mail marketers know that the bottom line of ads is that they have to sell products. They can be the ugliest ad possible, but if it sells products, then it’s a great ad no matter how horrible it might look.
Image advertising strives to win awards for creativity while totally ignoring actual sales results. That’s why image advertising is ultimately a failure.
Direct marketing strives to make sales as soon as possible whether it’s creative or not. That’s why direct marketing techniques are always superior.
Compare the ads for the Apple Watch and the Microsoft Surface tablet. Which ad shows what the product can do for you? Once you know which product might solve your needs, can you tell which ad is more effective in getting you closer to buying it?