Here’s a view of advertising that is a blend of high-level thinking from a couple of independent consultants I know, and a couple of world-famous advertising agencies.
It’s an opinion piece, within which sit a number of proven facts, as well as the original ideas of the contributors. You can decide which bits are most relevant to you, which bits you agree with, which bits you don’t agree with, and the way your business or brand embraces and approaches advertising in the future as a consequence.
This five-minute read takes the conversation about advertising much further than the all-too-common narrative of, “Here, place an ad – any old ad you want to give us – in our magazine, and you’ll sell more.” This is how a lot of publications speak to you, of course. Particularly their commission-hungry sales departments.
Let’s go a little deeper than that.
First Things First.
Before we take a look at advertising, let’s talk about public relations (PR). As a general rule, early-stage businesses should not advertise at all. They should invest in public relations instead. Why? Because young, fresh, new brands should have a story to tell.
They should be able to focus in on, and tell great stories about, the change they want to make with their new venture. New businesses should be storyful, excitable, inspirational and rich with tales of ambition and what the future holds for the founders and their potential customers. And all of this and more is PR-able. PR in the early stage of a business is the way to go because PR stories will help you to forge a position. To own a position. To become famous for the change that you want to make, in the way that only you can.
So when should a brand use advertising?
A short / headline answer is this. Use advertising to reenforce or strengthen an existing or emerging brand position or owned messaging. Use advertising to – creatively – say the same few things about your brand over and over and over again. Use advertising to keep you front of mind – but not just in such a way that people simply ‘know you are there’. (That’s simple ‘awareness’. And chasing simple awareness is sub-optimal). Use advertising to remind people about your existing, owned point of difference, in new and interesting ways. As I say, over and over and over again.
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