Avoid These Five Traps On Your Next Advertising Project
Advertising has certain guidelines that everyone tries to follow. (There are also strict rules governing the industry, but that another story entirely.) For instance, advertisers will do a lot of market research, establishing a target audience for the campaign. Miss this step; your campaign will fail.
However, there are some things that advertisers do, and keep doing, that may seem like good ideas on the surface, but will actually hurt almost all of the time. Here are five traps you should avoid when you start creating your next campaign.
1 – Don’t Jump On Bandwagons
“The researchers say everyone is playing these quizzes on Facebook. We need to do a quiz on Facebook.” No, you don’t. There is one school of thought that says “fish where the fish are.” There’s another that says “you can’t stand out in a crowd if you look like one of the crowd.” Yes, find out where the fish are, but use a different bait. If every company is using a technique, the market is already saturated. You need a new approach. If you didn’t get in early, the bandwagon is the last place you want to be. It’s not original. It’s not noticeable. It’s not profitable.
2 – Don’t Be Whacky Without a Reason
There is a lot of whacky, zany, goofy advertising out there right now. It’s been around for at least a decade now, and examples include the bizarre “taste the rainbow” spots for Skittles, the Quizno’s Sponge Monkeys, and a lot of the stuff CP&B produced for Burger King. Sometimes, it works really well. But most of the time it falls flat because it is hollow and meaningless. You cannot just throw something weird out there and expect people to love it and buy the product. People need more than that. By all means push the boundaries, but have a strong tie to the product or service you’re advertising.
3 – Don’t Forget Your Roots
Sadly, Apple is one of those companies that fits squarely into this category. When Steve Jobs was at the helm, the Apple ads were all smart, clean, and innovative. Most of all, the technology was king. The ads focused on the iMac, the iPod, or the iPhone. The look and feel, although it evolved, never changed radically. Now look at what desperation has done to the Apple campaign. It’s become all about the schmaltzy story, and the product has taken a huge back seat. Not only that, but the innovation aspect has almost disappeared from Apple. You cannot forget what made you successful. That does not mean you do not move forward, but don’t ditch everything and rely on a hail Mary. It won’t work.
4 – Don’t Underestimate Your Audience
Advertising, when it is exceptional, uses the audience to complete the message. It doesn’t tell them the whole story; by engaging them, and their minds, the message becomes implanted and effective. If you don’t think your audience will “get” something you’re planning, ask yourself why. Is it because it’s above them, or because you haven’t crafted it properly? A spoonfed audience will not respond well. You can’t talk down to them, or tell them exactly what to think and how to feel. Give them the respect they deserve, and they will reward you with their hard-earned money, and brand loyalty.
5 – Don’t Test Your Ideas On Focus Groups
A focus group is the epitome of the adage “a person is smart, people are dumb.” For a start, 10-15 random people brought together does not represent the audience. It would be a miracle if it did. Focus groups are usually influenced by the more assertive or “pushy” members of the group, and without a good moderator, they will run riot over any ideas you show them. At the end of the day, you may as well roll a dice and if you get a 1,2 or 3, kill the campaign, and a 4,5 or 6, run it. That’s about as scientific. Steve Jobs refused to show the iPad to a focus group. He said they just wouldn’t get it, and he was right. It was a slow burn, that became a massive hit. Use focus groups to research ads or products that are already out there. But never use them on ads you’re planning to run; you will waste your money, time, and sanity.