Creating Persuasive Advertising
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
16 March 2017
Always demand persuasive advertising
Why is advertising getting to be more challenging?
In a word. Persuasion. It has always been hard to persuade folks. Today it is harder still. As a result, successful advertising (or more specifically persuasive advertising) is elusive. As rare as diamonds. I have written many times about how wasteful advertising can be. So, today I decided to write about the foundations of persuasion. The root cause of all persuasive advertising.
A selling argument
There is a BIG difference between an advertising message and a selling argument. Obviously, there is a person-to-person connection in a sales meeting. Persuasive advertising is a marketing message. On the surface, it seems the missing element is the salesman (I purposely did not say saleswoman. Bit more about that later).
But that is a minor difference. Because persuasive advertising builds an emotional relationship with the person it needs to influence. That emotional relationship is an able substitute for the in-person sales meeting. (Read an article on adverting agency failures here)
Advertising has come a long way since David Ogilvy
Too bad it has not improved
The selling argument IS an argument. So, it is a rational defense of a made point. As a result, the traditional selling argument is similar to the style of this blog.
Set up the situation, identify the barriers, support the premise and defend the pivotal points. Then we assume that the best argument wins. Salesmen train to deflect objections and support their basic premise. And they learn and repeat all the benefits and try their best to undermine all the objections. It seems straight forward.
On the surface, the selling argument looks like a T-chart. Pros outnumber cons. But every successful salesman says they sell themselves. Not the product.
The process is rational but the REAL selling argument is emotional. It succeeds because a relationship develops between the seller and the sold. That emotional cord is a nebulous trust. An alignment of personality. Or, sometimes, the sold simply likes the salesman.
It’s more than rational benefits.
“Advertising agencies and marketers spend a lot of their time satisfying themselves. Only one person ever enjoys masturbation.”
The Guts of Persuasive Advertising
Persuasion is not an argument. It is seduction. Great advertising creates a connection with the influencer to the influenced. It seduces because it does not argue with the facts. And seeks to align itself with the values of the target audience. A litany of facts creates barriers. Everything is personal. Everyone thinks they are smart. So, everyone sees their own facts as an extension of their person.
The World of Fake News and Alternative Facts
This idea is clear in today’s political chasm. Trump supporters don’t understand how anyone can find fault with the President’s statements. Trump haters can’t understand how anyone is stupid enough to not see through the lies.
What each side misses is this is not about Trump at all. It’s about their own self. It is personal for both sides and has nothing to do with facts. All the protestations are water on a duck’s back. Nothing sticks.
Remember that, until the day Nixon resigned, his core supporters saw everything as a left-wing conspiracy at its worse. An overreaction at its best.
Facts don’t matter because we all have our own facts. Alternative facts, I guess.
Rational arguments seem completely irrational to adherents. They change nothing.
Not really a brain trust.
More like a Kindergarten
Advertising creatives are to blame for the failure to persuade. They confuse creativity with connection.
Purpose drives human endeavors. Not process. Insanity is process driven.
How do you create persuasive advertising? Make the advertising itself transparent. Don’t bring attention to the process of advertising. Make the emotional connection the goal.
This means spoken word drives the copy. Puns, cleverness, cute phrases, political correctness (like saying salesmen and saleswomen) and self-conscious language all get in the way. They just scream ADVERTISING. The result? Barriers go up.
As a result, the hardest copy written is the simplest creation. Remember, Picasso taught us that omission is a creative art. So everyone except ad executives and marketers hate being a target of advertising. Persuasive advertising is invisible because the ad never gets in the way.
Invisible Art Direction
As a result, less is more. You only persuade advertising executives if you notice the art direction. Qualitative research on the ads gives false positives. The general population has bought into the rules of advertising. They like and appreciate cleverness. But not influenced by it.
It a special gift for advertising creatives to avoid cleverness and yet command attention. They must get you to notice the ad but NOT notice that it IS an ad.
The best and most persuasive advertising is the advertising that is most transparent. It does not call attention to itself as advertising. It speaks directly to you as a human. And aligns itself with our own alternative facts.
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