Ad strategies have been a prevalent societal force for centuries.
From the printing press to the internet, advertising has played an important role in how people communicate and consume information.
With the advent of digital marketing, however, the landscape of advertising has changed dramatically. No longer are advertisers limited to traditional channels like television, radio, and outdoor.
…and this is arguably marketing strategy’s greatest problem.
While we have come a long way from traditional advertising, the basic principles of advertising remain the same.
But where did it all begin?
Ad Strategies of Ancient Civilizations
Advertising has been traced back to ancient civilizations. In 4000 BCE, Indian rock paintings were used to communicate about political and religious events, and even lost items.
Additionally, outdoor billboards date back to ancient civilizations. In Pompeii, for example, stone walls were covered with commercial and political messages.
And while these ancient advertisements don’t look like the ads we see today, they did share some commonalities. Over time, however, the purpose of advertising had shifted from conveying information to persuasion. By the Middle Ages, for example, many manufacturers had trademarks, town criers, and sign boards.
The reason for this was that many people during this time could not read. To identify a particular product, symbols were commonly used. Similar to logos, these symbols helped people to identify a product or merchant without having to read the name. This would eventually become more popular some time after Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1439.
At Wizard of Ads®, we understand that to be effective, advertising must be new, interesting, and different. Utilizing ad strategies old and new, our experienced team of Wizards can help you create ad strategies that get results. If you’re looking for distinctive, disruptive ads that will break through the noise, we’ve got you covered. Book a call with Ryan Chute at Wizard of Ads™ today to get started.
Ad Wizards of 16th – 18th centuries
While advertising can be traced back to Egyptian hieroglyphs, modern advertising’s early beginning showed up in newspapers and magazines in the 16th century.
In fact, Gazettes, the first recorded instance of what we would call “advertising” today, dates back to 1563.
Gazettes, or small, printed newsletters, contained information on upcoming events or announcements and were circulated throughout a town or city. While they were not explicitly created to market or sell products, they did serve to promote available goods or services.
Gazettes were also used to spread news of new inventions and discoveries.
It wasn’t until the 17th century, however, that advertising took a more modern flair. This was primarily due to the increase in literacy rates and the development of printing technologies. The Daily Courant, published in London in 1702, is often considered to be the first newspaper to include advertisements. Though, earlier advances in printing allowed retailers and manufacturers to print what we know today as flyers, business cards, and brochures.
Advertising usage expanded rapidly during the 18th century due to the popularity of newspapers and colored illustrations. By the late 18th century, print advertisements promoted various goods and services, from books to medicines to fashion.
With the rise of print advertising, however, came some drawbacks. One of the earliest criticisms of advertising was that it was often misleading. This was especially true for so-called medical ads that promised miracle cures for all sorts of ailments.
This, however, would not be the last time concerns about advertising ethics would arise.
Ad Wizards of the 1900’s
In the 1900’s, ad wizards from all over the globe began to form ad strategies that are still used today. From the creative minds of early ad writers like Helen Lansdowne Resor and Albert Lasker, ad strategies began to form.
In fact, Helen Lansdowne Resor is often credited with being the first female copywriter. Her ads for Woodbury Soap became one of the first to utilize sex appeal in advertising.
Similarly, Albert Lasker is considered the father of modern advertising. He is responsible for many firsts in advertising, including the use of psychological appeals and celebrity endorsements.
Ad strategies using sex appeal and psychology would continue to flourish in the hands of other copywriters throughout the 1900’s. Advertisements would also feature other strategies such as nudity, logic, and fear in order to sell their products.
Advertising became even more prevalent with the advent of radio, television, and the internet.
Radio, TV, and Early Internet Ad Wizards
In the early 1920’s, the invention of radio broadcasting gave advertisers another avenue to reach consumers. This new medium allowed for ads to be heard by a mass audience all at once, however, it didn’t last.
With the Great Depression in 1929, advertising budgets were slashed, and many agencies went out of business. It was not until the end of the 1930’s that radio advertising saw a renaissance.
By the 1950’s, television had become the dominant advertising medium. In fact, by 1955, over half of all American households had a television. This gave advertisers a whole new way to reach consumers and sell their products, primarily through networks such as MTV.
However, television was not the only medium that would drastically change advertising. In the 1980’s, the advent of the internet changed everything once again. For the first time, advertisers had a way to reach consumers all over the world with just a few clicks. And as we all know, the internet is where businesses unknowingly waste most of their advertising budgets today.
Channels such as email, online banners, and pop-ups allowed companies to bypass traditional advertising channels and directly target consumers at an enormous cost. This gave rise to a new era of marketing known as digital marketing.
The same nonsense that the Yellow Pages told us about “targeted advertising” is the same snake oil being peddled by digital advertisers today.
Wizards of Today and Their Work (Ad Strategies)
Today, great ad strategies have become more sophisticated and intelligent than ever. Utilizing the massive leverage of mass media marketing to the validation of competency using search engine optimization; businesses now have many techniques to reach their audiences for different reasons. This new landscape is challenging to navigate, but there are specific ad strategies that are effective, depending on what you sell.
Ad wizards of today, however, don’t rely on a single tool or technique. Instead, they use a combination of different tactics to build effective ad strategies.
But what exactly are these ad strategies? And how can businesses use them to their advantage?
Ad Strategies Ad Writers use Today
Modern ad strategies are not very different from the ads of yesterday. Today’s ads are carefully thought out to fit the most popular channels that we have at our disposal.
The fact is, the principles of communication haven’t changed. While communication channels come and go, rise and fall in popularity, the human brain stays relatively consistent.
That why the best ad strategies start with telling a story about people and the problems they overcome, like they have for a millenia.
And while weak ad strategies are focused on targeting audiences, spreading their boring message so thinly that no one even remembers them, today’s ad wizards are telling delicious stories to a small group of people repeatedly, creating loyal fans.
Despite ongoing creativity and innovation, you will find the tried and true ad strategies that ad writers at Wizard of Ads® use today still outperform trendy tactics because human psychology doesn’t change.
Here are some of the most common ad strategies:
The empathy strategy is specifically used to help people understand the experiences and perspectives of others. In other words, it’s meant to foster understanding and communication. This strategy can be used in several ways, but one popular method is for non-profit organizations. When people can see and feel the reality of others, it’s easier for them to connect and empathize. This can lead to donations or other support for the cause.
The key to using this strategy (and any strategy) is to be authentic. Don’t try to force people to see things from your perspective. Instead, let them come to their own conclusions by sharing stories and experiences that are relatable.
The competence strategy persuades the target audience using a credible sources including testimonials and reviews. This strategy is effective in that it overcomes resistance by building authority. Oftentimes, brands such as Nike will use celebrities to sell their product. This is because the target audience perceives the celebrity as someone with high status and authority.
The testimonial and review strategy can also feature regular people that have used the product and had a positive experience. This is effective in creating social proof and making the target audience more likely to purchase and believe the product. Advertisements that lack credibility are often ignored or disbelieved by the audience. Thus, the testimonial and review strategy is a great way to make an advertisement more believable and trustworthy.
The transformation strategy is a simple and effective way to show consumers that your product or service will improve their lives. This is often done by depicting a negative before image followed by a glowing after image. This strategy is often used in weight loss and beauty advertising but can be applied to many products and services.
This strategy works because it taps into our natural desire for a quick fix or easy solution. If done tastefully, this strategy can be a great way to show customers the value of your product in a relatable way. Depending on what you sell, this strategy can be considered controversial if manipulative in nature.
When using the transformation strategy in your marketing, be sure to avoid any offensive or crass imagery. Instead, focus on showing the positive transformation your product or service can provide for your target audience.
The authority strategy serves as a reminder to consumers that you and your solution can help them. In other words, it states, “If you have this problem, here’s what you can do about it. If you’d rather it go away, I can do it for you.”
There are a few different ways to structure an authority strategy; however, many include a simple call to action to make the problem go away. Furthermore, many authority strategies will also use celebrity endorsements for added social proof.
While you’re creating your authority strategy, keep in mind that you need to be careful not to come across as needy. Instead, focus on how your solution will help consumers get back to everyday life again.
The demonstration strategy explicitly shows the benefit of your product or service through a demonstration. In other words, the strategy is to show, not tell.
The best demonstrations focus on solving a specific problem for the customer or target audience. When done well, a demonstration is incredibly persuasive, especially if the person is experiencing the problem.
It must be your goal to help the customer understand the value of your thing clearly. Thus, the demonstration should be direct, simple, and to the point.
The comparison strategy works to compare your product or service with a competitor’s offering. The goal is to show how your product or service is superior to the competitor.
This is oftentimes done by directly comparing features and benefits or discussing the overall advantages of your product or service. When using this strategy, it’s important to be honest about the capabilities of both your product and the competitor’s. You don’t want to oversell your product or make false claims about the competition.
Furthermore, it is extremely important to avoid coming across as arrogant or belittling towards the competition. This will only make you look bad and damage your own reputation. Instead, focus on promoting the positive aspects of your product or service respectfully.
While this strategy is wrought with danger, it is especially powerful when done correctly. By speaking about your distinctive differences that competitors would be afraid to take on themselves, you can quickly become top of mind when buyers need your thing.
The vulnerability strategy is used to reverse the argument of a preconceived negative attribute. The purpose of this strategy is to turn a potential weakness into an advantage or opportunity. This can be achieved by simply re-wording the original claim or describing the situation more positively.
For example, suppose an individual is trying to sell a product that is not the newest model. In that case, they might use the vulnerability strategy by stressing that the product is vintage or affordable.
This strategy can also be used in its opposing form, in which the proposed positive turns negative. This is particularly useful for small companies competing against giants in their industry.
In any case, this strategy aims to increase the audience’s perception of the situation, making it more favorable to them. Thus, you can increase the chances that your audience will see things from your perspective.
“The most fascinating characters in any story are the ones with flaws.” – Ryan Chute
Traditional Ads of Today
Throughout the history of advertising, many different techniques have been used to grab (and keep) attention and sell products. Today, traditional and digital media must be combined to deliver messages in creative, attention-grabbing ways that convert.
And while modern technology has changed the advertising landscape, traditional techniques are more valuable than ever. Thus, it’s important to understand both traditional and modern advertising strategies to best connect with your target audience.
The history of advertising, however, is much more extensive than most people realize. With the overload of advertising that people experience daily, it can be challenging to break through the noise. Due to this, many businesses are turning to professional agencies to assist with creating and placing their ads.
At Wizard of Ads®, we use traditional and modern storytelling techniques that’s proven to be highly effective in today’s market. Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, our ad wizards can help you generate industry-specific advertising that sells. To learn more about how we can help your business break through the noise, book a call with Ryan Chute today.