Okay, here it is. The universal secret. How all ads work. Or how they function, rather. Whether or not they work is based on how well the creator understands this.
We’re slammed with ads. You’ve heard the statistics about how many ad messages we receive every day. People trying to get our attention. And an ad always has one purpose: to get the customer to spend money at the business.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Businesses survive or die based on customers spending money. But when you’re slammed with thousands of ad messages per day, you get resistant. Defensive.
So when a person encounters an ad, at some level, no matter the media, no matter the message, there is a buried message that the customer sees first.
“I want your money.”
It’s there. It’s implicit. It can’t not be there. And we get tired of hearing that message. Because, subconsciously, we are hearing “I want your money” thousands of times every day.
Our reactions will be varied, some conscious and others unconscious, but they usually run the gamut of “No!” or “Screw off, get your own money!” or “Why should I?”
Actually, if you’re lucky, the reaction will be “Why should I?” The rest are non-starters. They’ve tuned you out before you can even connect with them. But “Why should I?” is something you can work with. How?
By answering that question. Immediately. Honestly. With value.
This is why ads that talk about the business fail. Because the question is not answered. Ads that list a thousand product features fail. Because they say “Here’s why we think you should.” They don’t speak to the customer’s needs, wants, values or beliefs. Ads that make outlandish claims fail. Because no one believes that your company is the best, fastest, cheapest, friendliest, awesomest company in the history of free enterprise.
Customers want a benefit. They want to know what’s in it for them. The answer to “Why should I?” is because they can get that benefit. That answer needs to be immediate. That doesn’t mean the ad can’t be clever. Creative. Unexpected. It just means that the entire thrust of the ad has to make that promise. So really, there is no secret to advertising. If your business has a valuable emotional benefit, and you share it honestly, then the customers will see that and respond.
If your business doesn’t have a valuable emotional benefit, your advertising is the least of your worries.
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