Did you ever think where did General Foods, Pan Am, Polaroid or Compaq go? Some may say that it’s just time taking its course, but most marketing and advertising experts will agree that it was a problem of strategy.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common unanswered questions about advertising techniques. Also, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the most famous brands in the world and identify their ad technique, in order to help you improve your own.
Before we even start talking about the most popular advertising techniques and the most successful persuasive strategies, we should establish one thing.
It’s like trying to hunt 2 deer at the same time. You’ll probably end up eating a salad for dinner.
Moreover, deciding the type of advertising techniques and strategy you want to implement should be decided only after you understand the mind of your customer.
How do you do that? Now that’s a tricky question.
Let’s start with some small steps.
As we previously discussed, a product meant to satisfy everybody’s needs is a product for nobody. Segmentation has a huge role in the process of choosing the right strategy. This concept refers to the division of the market in specific groups of consumers that have a similar behavior in relation to the product. Big companies usually sketch a buyer and user persona profile, in order to better understand their behavior.
These profiles are contoured only after a very deep research using tools like surveys, personal interviews, focus groups and so on. And not only that, your whole strategy should be based on research, analysis, and trends.
You have to understand that products are designed to meet people’s expectations and needs. Of course, this can differ, because people’s beliefs change and that is exactly why you should be constantly doing this process. You should constantly work on your buyer personas profiles because that will help you to constantly improve your product.
Alright, one you’ve established what your target audience/s is/are (because there can be more than one), we can start talking about targeted marketing. What does that refer to? Exactly what its name says, marketing that is targeted. It’s exactly like an arrow. You can’t hit the target if you don’t point directly at it. The next step in developing a great online advertising technique is to establish your mix of marketing. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before but let’s make things clear. The mix of marketing consists of 4 elements: Product, price, placement, and promotion.
This mix of marketing is in direct correlation with the 4 C’s of the buyer: customer wants and needs, cost, convenience, and communication. These facts go hand in hand because:
• the product should represent a solution for your customer’s needs
• the price should reflect the worth of the product and the amount of money that the customer is willing to pay
• the placement should indicate the effort that the buyer is willing to make in order to reach your product, in other words, distribution
• the promotion should refer to the way in which your product is communicating with the target or the strategy. (note: it does not refer to the price)
All of these elements combined, in relation to your segmentation and Unique Selling Proposition will guide your way to success. The tricky part is that this mix of marketing is different for every product. It’s like baking a cake. Some like it more fluffy, some like it more creamy, some like it ice cold, some like it at room temperature, some like it crispy and some like it soft. The thing is, the recipe and concept are the same. Every cake has layers, dough, cream and decorations, you just have to play with the measurements to find the perfect combination for you and your audience.
THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
There is no such thing as a digital marketing technique that will most definitely bring you success and glory because there is no such thing as a different same product. But there are different types of advertising techniques that can work (of course adapted to your particular case) that can help you want. Before we actually list them here, you should also know that ad techniques are in direct relationship with the stage of life in which your product is to be found at a certain time landmark.
If we take a look at the general life stages of the product include introduction, growth, maturity and the decline.
- Introduction – this phase is usually the most expensive because it includes elements like market and competition research, testing, development and the actual launch of the product. At this stage in the product’s life, the sales are not so high because people are just getting to know you. Even if you offer great quality, they still hesitate. You have to earn their trust and the easiest way to enter a market and have a good start is with a good money-value ratio.
- Growth – this stage refers to the phase in which you gain some ground in the battle with your competitors. Automatically, your sales will take a turn for the good and you will be able to invest more money in the business. At the same time, people are pretty much familiar with your product and there is a good chance that they will come back to purchase you.
- Maturity- up until this point you tried to gain ground on your niche, now you will be fighting to keep that ground. People already recognize your name, label, and packaging. And some of them keep coming back to you, but the biggest mistake that most brands make in this phase (that automatically puts them through the next one) is that they are not flexible. Times change, people change and so to their needs. Adapt and improve your strategy according to the market.
- Decline- this is the stage that usually comes through in 3 cases: when the market becomes saturated, when people are not satisfied with your product anymore, or when another similar product comes on the market and offers a better price for a very much alike value.
These stages are usually fulfilled in every product’s life in this exact same order, but of course, there are some exceptions. For instance, a product can enter the decline stage before it even hit its maturity. Also, keep in mind that every product and brand will reach all of these phases multiple times. Whenever the decline stage is reached, the product will automatically return to the introduction phase, in which it will go through a rebranding process.
THE LAW OF THE VITAL FEW
The famous Pareto principle, also known as the law of the vital few or the factor sparsity says that 80% or the effects come from 20% of the causes. And now you are wondering how will that help you in finding the right advertising technique for you? Well, this rules applies to various aspects of our lives. For instance, various studies showed that 20 percent of the world’s population is controlling 80 percent of the world’s income, whereas 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals and 20% of sportsmen win 80% of the competitions and so on.
See where we’re going with this? That’s right! Take a look at your sales now and tell me what do you see? This rule applies to sales too. In his book, Perry Marshall says that your efforts in marketing and strategizing should reflect exactly that. Think about it. You walk into a store, looking for nothing in particular, you are just walking around, looking, hoping to find something that you might like. Chances are, you will walk out empty handed.
Here’s the thing. When you do that, you are actually losing their time and effort. Your mind is already set on not buying anything, but that doesn’t mean the sales people won’t greet you, ask you what you’re looking for, attend you. And you are making them lose time and money because they could be focusing on customers who are actually determined to buy something.
In other words, we are all tempted to waste time our time trying to please all of our customers, instead of focusing our energy on the ones that really matter. We’re not saying you should ignore them completely, but they shouldn’t be your main point of focus, for sure. Having said all this, it is way easier to make loyal customers buy more than it is to convert non-buyers to loyal buyers.
As we said before, there is no such thing as a perfect marketing strategy, but there are a few that can help you bear fruit better than others. However, you should always keep in mind the 3 most elements pointed out above (segmentation, targeted marketing-mix, and the circle of life of the product) and of course, the focus.
The beginning of the 70’s bring a very important and revolutionizing elements into what we call today, strategizing. It’s called positioning at it was defined by Al Ries and Jack Trout and it describes the attempt of placing your brand in a very specific and well-determined location in the mind of the customer. This perception can be altered by a few things like personal input, personal experience with the brand but it mainly refers to the tactics and techniques used by businesses in order to earn a certain place in people’s minds in relation to other similar brands.
There are 4 major different types of positioning.
The first one is called the leadership positioning and it refers, of course to identifying yourself as the number 1. Now, this has a lot of different approaches. Whether it’s “the original”, “the number one”, “the best”, “the first”, they are all included in the leader positioning. A very famous Hertz commercial once claimed that they are “the number one way to rent a car”. Every type of positioning can have its pros and cons. The leadership positioning is usually used to “excuse” the price. Because whenever something is THE number one, you should expect a higher price compared to the average in the category.
This strategy usually wants to make people think that they are consuming something high-quality and that makes them automatically part of a premium group.
The risk regarding this online marketing technique is the vulnerability. Whenever you are affirming that you are the best at something, or that you are the only one that has that specific characteristic, you are exposing yourself. If your USP is a technicality or an innovation, it is only a matter of time before your competitors adopt it too, or before they come up with a better one, because adaptability is part of this too.
In this situation, there are two ways you can face this. It’s either the one in which you are the one that is always coming up with innovations, or you choose a not so technical and debatable USP. Of course, there are different kinds of USP and so, there are different types of ads that work for different products. But here’s the thing! You want to have that wow factor in order to stand out.
Google, Microsoft, Audi and many others are part of the first category. They not only pretend to be leading their market, they are actually doing it by innovating and reinventing themselves over and over again. That is why and how they lasted so long in their industry, so far. On the other hand, brands like Nokia never pretended to be innovators, so they chose a different and intangible USP, “Connecting people”. This USP is theirs only and no other brand can claim the same.
Check out this awesome leadership positioning by Audi:
While leadership positioning can help you differentiate from others, you should be extremely careful with whatever it is that you are claiming. When you entitle yourself to be the best at something, you’d better excel at it. Otherwise, you risk to convince people to buy you, but you’ll have to face with their disappointment later.
The second type of positioning is called the “against” positioning. This is the kind of technique in which in a world filled with white sheep, you want to be the black one. The against positioning usually situates the product in opposition with the leader. For example, in response to the Hertz commercial mentioned earlier, Avis (the second largest car rental company) adopted an against strategy by saying: “Avis is only number 2 in rent a car. So why go with us? We try harder!”.
The origins of 7Up adopted an against type of positioning, completely changed the battle between soft drinks and juice by claiming to be the “uncola”. They clearly made a statement by affirming its difference against the leader, the Coca-Cola.
This ad technique can be quite tricky if you aim for a market in which naming your competitor is not legal. This regulation turns the battle between leaders and non-leaders in analogies like “compared to other brands”.
The main risk you’re taking when adopting this type of approach is that you are also bringing attention and sometimes even helping the leader in its success, instead of helping yourself. Some people will not take chances by trying out the second best thing, because they think they deserve the best thing, and some people do not think that the uncola can be good since they already fell in love with Cola.
The third form of positioning is called “new category” and it does exactly that, it creates a new category of products so that the brand itself would be the innovator. Minivan cars are a perfect example of this strategy. Cars have been around for quite a while, but right before minivans, there was nowhere in between vans and regular cars. Other great examples are drinkable yogurts and Dove’s cream soap.
And last but not least, there is the niche positioning. This type of ad technique is the most common and it refers to giving products a moral and aesthetic virtue. The niche positioning is usually found in products that don’t necessarily have a big and obvious differentiation to point out, so they count on the emotional side. Think about perfumes and cigarettes. The only thing that makes them apart is the characteristic that they are suggesting you. After all, isn’t Marlboro the manliest cigarette brand there is, from ever since we can remember? Also, think about perfumes. Their names are usually giving you the input already.
La vie est belle, Daisy, Alien, J’adore are all promising different things because, without that promise, there isn’t much to brag about. They all promise your affiliation to a certain social status or cultural image.
If you go for this type of strategy, the majority of the clients are people who want to be part of a certain group that they admire. Women buy Organza because they want to be that goddess from the ad, and men buy Breguet and Bentleys because they want to reach a certain status. They aren’t necessarily part of your target but they want people to think that they are, or they hope that this will help them actually get there.
OTHER AD TECHNIQUES
Now that we mentioned the major marketing techniques used by brands all over the world, we should point out some other common strategies you should take a look at.
One of them is called the price/quality positioning and it generally refers to products that put an accent on their price. “Blow out sale” or “best price” are expressions that mark this type of strategy. Another common tool is the magic price, which usually ends in 99. I’m sure you’ve all seen detergents at 3.99$ and so on. Other brands that use the same technique but want to be more subtle use the + 1 FREE kind of approach. This way, they give you the feeling that you get something complimentary when you are actually part of a discount.
This type of marketing technique is mainly used by products like detergents, or shampoos. Things that don’t necessarily require a lot of emotional involvement.
Another frequent persuasive technique is the endorsement. In this case, businesses increase their popularity by associating themselves with already famous people. Celebrities share their experience with the product with the world. This way, people who turn into customers directly associate themselves as part of the same group as that particular star. Most people who fall for this technique are looking for a boost of their self-esteem. Doesn’t it make you feel better if you (think you are) using the same hair product as Eva Longoria?
Cultural symbols are also very popular amongst effective persuasive strategies. People will always trust a cultural symbol more than a globalized brand because they feel like they can relate to it. The most common example, in this case, is airlines.
“90 percent of dentists recommend our toothpaste”. Does it sound familiar? I bet it does! Products that are related to a more delicate and personal aspect will look for a confirmation from a trustworthy persona or institution. Personal hygiene brands, baby products or cosmetics can reach out for the facts and statistics technique.
Moreover, it has been noticed that whenever you forbid someone to do something there is a bigger chance that they will do it eventually. How can this help you out in your approach? Look at Yorkie, the chocolate brand. They placed themselves very smart in one of the most successful restriction strategies. “It’s not for girls” makes it very clear who their audience is. This is only accentuated by their amazing approach in ads, presenting women dressed like men, in order to be able to buy Yorkie, showing just how far people are willing to go to buy it.
Check our their original ads here. Enjoy it and learn from it!
Now that we finally pointed out the most important and effective types of advertising technique that can possibly help you out as well. What do you think Cola, McDonalds or Apple use? Let’s find out!
What advertising techniques does Coca-Cola use?
Coca-Cola has been around for quite a while now and it’s pretty obvious the life cycle of the product has been through some major changes and innovations. After giving a chance to most other techniques, the one that Coca-Cola has been applying lately fits perfectly in the endorsement strategy and Rita Ora, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez are all part of it. The campaign has been a huge success and up until a few weeks ago, the Selena Gomez Cola ad went viral on Instagram, hitting the record of likes in the history of Instagram.
What are McDonald’s advertising techniques?
If you’ve seen the movie The Founder, which by the way, we highly recommend, you probably already know what their advertising technique, because it is quite obvious. And it is very much related to placement. The commodity of the consumer was a very important factor in their success. That is the exact reason why there is a McDonald’s at every corner. Also, they combined this strategy with the cultural symbols one, by creating Ronald McDonald.
What advertising techniques does Apple use?
Look at their ads! “There’s iPhone. And then there’s everything else”, “Bigger than bigger”, “Evolution in every dimension”, “Forward thinking”, “This changes everything. Again.” This sounds like a leadership positioning to us. But here’s the catch. Apple has placed itself in the premium side of its category without even saying or affirming that they are number one. They are simply suggesting it and let numbers speak for them. Less than 6 months ago, Apple celebrated selling their billionth iPhone. Becoming the best selling phone of all time.
What if we tell you that soon after, iPhone became the best-selling non-consumable product of all time. I guess we can now say with ease that they are practicing a leadership positioning. everything. Again.”
You have to keep in mind that strategy and advertising techniques are the core of a brand’s success, but the overall picture involves constant customer behavior research, design, analysis and perpetual improvement. Success is a constant effort. Keep in mind, good things come for those who work hard, and once you’ve reached the top, work harder!