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Advertising your brand

Key Action Points

  1. Define the measurable objectives for your advertising campaign
  2. Develop a comprehensive briefing document for the advertising agency, including:
    • What is your brand horizon (where do you want it to be in the medium/long term)?
    • What are the measurable objectives for the advertising campaign?
    • How will you measure the results?
    • How is your brand defined?
    • What is your target audience?
    • What are the other communications activities you are conducting?
    • What is the competition doing?
  3. Invite three agencies to compete for your business
  4. Treat media buying as a separate issue, and consider hiring a specialist media agency
  5. Having appointed the advertising agency to implement the best PPC ad management and work on building a long-term relationship

In more detail…..

Objectives of advertising

Advertising has different roles at different times:

  • introducing the brand to potential customers
  • building the brand into the potential customer’s landscape
  • writing interesting content that establishes trust
  • tempting potential customers to give the brand a test
  • encouraging existing customers to buy the brand again/more often
  • strengthening relationships between customers & the brand

It can, therefore, have many objectives:

  • awareness & recognition of the brand
  • familiarity with the brand
  • favorability towards the brand
  • belief and establishing brand values
  • emotional bonding to the brand
  • the propensity to purchase the brand
  • the propensity to pay a premium price for the brand
  • developing the brand as a talking point

One of advertising’s strongest effects is to persuade retailers/distributors to invest more heavily in the brand by granting more facings, & so a virtuous circle is created:

  • (potential) customers see the brand being advertised
  • people start talking about the brand at home, at work, in the media
  • the brand is more visible in the distribution

The normative effects associated with this cycle encourage (potential) customers to include the brand in their repertoire.

Research evidence suggests that the decay effects of most advertising are rapid – advertising alone does not create a brand loyal customer. It is best to regard advertising as an expensive mass invitation to your brand party – some will love it (especially those who attend all your parties), others will hate it, & most will be bored & waiting for the next one. It is crucial to capitalize on the advertising investment by building a more infrastructural brand experience while you have your (potential) customer’s attention.

Advertising media

There is an increasingly wide range of advertising media available:

  • TV
  • press/magazines
  • billboards
  • directories
  • public/private transport
  • public conveniences
  • Internet links/pop-up ads/banner ads
  • shop facia & windows
  • in-store banners/shelf hangers/display areas/floor advertising
  • gas stations
  • buildings
  • other products

Global brands face the additional issue of whether to develop global or local advertising campaigns. Global advertising campaigns are cheap but will under-achieve in many countries. Local campaigns are expensive & results will vary from pay-dirt to just dirt. On balance, go local for the countries that matter.

Measuring the effectiveness of your advertising

TV advertising is historically where much of the focus on communications measurement has been, because of the size of the budgets involved. The big debate in advertising research is whether advertising can actually be demonstrated to improve sales & profits &, if so, by how much. The problem of assessing the impact of advertising on sales & profits is that it is difficult to isolate its effect from that of other activities taking place at the same time. This is the problem of assessing the effect of any activities on business outcomes. However, there are now at least two agencies that claim to be able to do so by correlating advertising activity to trade and home audits and modeling out extraneous impacts. The use of complex modeling and neural networks can take this approach one step further – to measure the effect of each element of the branding mix on sales and profits.

Measuring the relationship between advertising and results is somewhat easier on the Internet to which many large advertisers are switching. Originally, the most popular measure used to assess the effectiveness of banner advertisements was click-throughs (where someone clicks on an advertisement and is taken through to the advertiser’s site). However, click-throughs have proven a poor indicator of actual transactions, so the most common measure today is simply results. Payment by results neatly combines a measure of the performance of the advertisement with the investment in it.

There are also predictive methodologies that are used prior to the advertisement being shown. These methodologies compare the reaction of consumers to the current advertisement on a number of diagnostic attributes with the scores held in data banks for other advertisements that were tested in the same market place. The agency can then draw a chart to show the likely purchasing response to the advertisement, & the speed of decay in response. The diagnostic attributes will point the advertiser to those aspects of the advertisement which need to be improved, supported by interviews with consumers as to what they liked/disliked about it, what they believed it was telling them, & whether this was in line with their expectation of the brand.

Some agencies offer eye-tracking research that tells the advertiser which part of a printed advertisement held the consumers’ attention. Consumers’ eyes often dart around a printed advertisement, missing the main messages & the brand identification, because they cannot find its focal point or any point of entry. The ideal printed advertisement provides a clear flow for the consumer to follow.

In the advertisement development stage, focus groups are commonly used to explore the content & impact of the advertising.

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