Times have changes, what makes a great ad now?

Flicking through newspapers and magazines I’m often struck by the poor quality of the advertising, particularly in the B2B space. In a lot of boardrooms I think the wool is being pulled over people’s eyes when effectiveness is challenged with the phrase “…well it’s about building brand awareness and not necessarily generating a direct response.” This is a standard answer that seems to have become an acceptable answer, but one that is also leading to millions and millions of pounds being wasted.

Creating a great advert for your business is not an easy thing to do but if done properly should do both things – generate brand awareness as well as get a response!

Start with customer insight
Start by understanding the audience you are trying to reach and be specific about who they are and what considerations they have. It may be that you have to choose a specific segment of your audience for a specific publication rather than try to be all things to all people. However, it’s not enough just to know who they are, it’s about asking the question – what matters to them? The answer to this question will unlock compelling customer insight, which is the main ingredient that’s missing in most adverts.


Less is more
A great ad has a great visual concept behind it. Let’s face it, you have split seconds to engage people as they flick through a publication and superb visuals and, importantly, the right balance of imagery to text will attract attention. So many companies we see try and cram as much information as they can into an ad - feeling the need to get their whole offering onto the page in the hope that something will resonate - rather than letting a few well chosen words and powerful imagery encourage someone to find out more. The reaction you are looking for is “…this relates to me and I immediately know I need some of this.” A great concept is clever, simple and obvious. This isn’t easy to do, but if you’ve nailed the customer insight piece you are giving yourself a good chance of creating an effective advert.

Is it you?
An advert is only ever one part of the journey that someone takes to becoming a customer. It’s vital that your advertising has a strong connection to your overall brand, so that the people looking at it and the other things you do immediately recognise it. Try this test - remove your logo from your latest advert and see if people still recognise the advert as coming from your company without it…

Measure it
Not measuring the return on investment for an ad is just an excuse. You need to work hard up front to think about how you’ll measure it and put in place the right tools and practices. For example, consider a separate website landing page for each ad, a separate phone number that you only assign to ads or simply build a question into your receptionist’s script asking how the caller heard about you and what prompted them to call. It’s not easy but it’s doable!



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