Your small business may not have the cash to commission an award-winning ad agency to develop an advertising campaign, but that doesn’t mean you can’t roll out creative adverts which will produce effective results.

First, know your target market

Before you begin creating your advert, you need to:

  • Know your product
  • Know your target market
  • Know the problem you’re trying to solve.

Be aware that people tend to be emotionally, rather than logically, driven – your adverts should therefore aim to get an emotional response which will prompt them to act. Since emotions are triggered by clear, powerful benefits, emphasise benefits, rather than features. Touch on human desires and needs, and offer a solution to your customer’s problem.

Now, try these eleven effective advertising techniques

1. Metaphor and Simile

Copywriters use metaphor and simile in advertising to compare a product with something else, to place it in context for the target audience, and to give an old saying a new twist. We’ve all heard the old metaphor, his shoes were so shiny, he could see his face in them. This advert – which one a Cannes Gold Award in 2005 at the Cannes International Advertising Awards – takes the metaphor one further: the police officer’s shoes are so shiny, he can use them as mirrors to see suss out what’s happening around the corner, and down the alley…

Check out: Jupiter Drawing Room’s Police Officer – Use the Shine print campaign for Nugget Shoe Polish.

2. Exaggeration or Hyberbole

Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration – it can be amusing to stretch the basic truth.

Check out: Jupiter Drawing Room’s XL Kilt print campaign for Durex.

3. Personification

Personification is to personify, or assign human characteristics to something which is not human. Personification helps us relate to the subject matter and engage with it emotionally.

Check out: Nordpol + Hamburg’s The Power of Wind TV campaign for Epuron.

4. Humour

Making people laugh is one of the most powerful tricks up a copywriter’s sleeve, whether it be through clever punch lines, satire, irony or juxtaposition. Humour can etch an advertisement in the minds of your target audience, years after a campaign has ended.

Check out: Black River FC’s Jackie Selebi print campaign for Nando’s.

5. Turn features into benefits

Product features need to carry benefits, else they’re irrelevant to the lives of your target audience. A car may have power steering – but so what? When BMW introduced power steering in the 1980s, their agency created an advert which emphasised the benefit over the feature, and in the process creating the iconic BMW Mouse Advert.

Check out: Hunt Lascaris’ Power Steering is so Easy, Even a Mouse Can Do It TV campaign for BMW.

6. Single minded messages

If you throw five tennis balls at someone, how many balls do you think they’ll catch? Now throw just one ball…they’re more likely to catch that one, right? It’s the same with advertising. Great adverts stick to one message. For example, Allan Gray has been advertising the same message for the past decade – long term investment management.

Check out: King James Beautiful TV campaign for Allan Gray.

7. Jingles

Jingles are sound clips or short musical compositions associated with brand names, products and adverts. Who could forget that classic Take Two TV jingle from the late 1980s?

Check out: I Wanna be a Simba Chippie jingle for Simba Chips*

8. Human Truths

They say fact is stranger than fiction. Often, people connect emotionally to what’s real more rather than to what’s not, so human truths have the capacity to reach a broader audience.

Check out: CLM BBDO’s She’s Only with him for his Biscuits for Frolic Dog Biscuits.

9. Strong headlines

The headline says it all. A headline is 70% responsible for the success of an information loaded print advert. A headline should get straight to the point in as few words as possible.

Check out these headlines…which is best?

  • Build your abs in 14 days – Good
  •  Build your Abs in 14 Days, the Easy Way – Better.
  • A New Scientific Way To Easily Build Abs In 14 Days” – Best.

10. Writing

Written in the present tense, using the second person. Use the word ‘you’ as often as you can.

11. Consumer Intelligence

Take the levels of consumer intelligence into account. While you can exaggerate basic information, to reiterate the point, don’t include irrelevant information in your ad copy. Watch for over-the-top promises, which are over-used, like ‘the greatest service’; ‘unbelievable product’ or ‘once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity’. Appeal to your target market by emphasising its particular cultural nuances.

Want to know more about how to create compelling advertising? Read…

  • It’s Not How Good you Are, it’s How Good you Want to Be – Paul Arden (Phaidon Press)
  • Whatever you Think, Think the Opposite – Paul Arden (Portfolio Trade)
  • Advertising Concept and Copy – George Felton (WW Norton & Company)
  • Cutting Edge Advertising – Jim Aitchison (Pearson Education South Asia)

*Advertising agency unknown.