Written by: Joel Miller
Advertising has evolved tremendously in the past century. It has not only been furthered by advances in technology, but also in the way that advertisers communicate with consumers. Advertising copywriters know the power that language has over people and they use this to their advantage to convince and persuade. They use a number of techniques to help alter the way people perceive a product. More importantly, they make them want to buy it. Have a look at some of the main techniques used in advertising.
Stacking- Much like a stack of cards, stacking in advertising involves presenting a list of qualities or reasons that speak in favor of the product. For example, if a bag of chips is low in fat but high in sodium, the advertising will only stress the low-fat aspects, and may mention that the product is made with whole grains or that it is low in calories. This is also sometimes known as half-truths, or one-sidedness.
Repetition- Advertisers use repetition to make a product or brand better known to their customers. Instead of simply running an ad in the newspapers, they may also repeat the ad (or a very similar version) on television, on websites, in email newsletters, and on the radio. By bombarding people with the same message over and over again, they create brand or product recognition.
Slogan- A slogan is a concise, catchy way of summarizing the brand or associating the product with an idea. Slogans can be used as a punchy way to help consumers remember the main point about the product.
Logo - The logo is one of the important aspects of an ad. It is a visual symbol that helps people to instantly identify a product or the company behind it. Many advertisers use a logo to convey a sense of quality or other aspects that their brand is known for. For example, imagine that there are two cans of cola on a grocery shelf. One simply has a blank label, while the other is a can of Pepsi. Most shoppers would automatically buy the Pepsi can because they already know what to expect in it.
Snob Appeal - With snob appeal, companies link their products with images of high-class lifestyles. This not only helps to draw in people from that segment, but it also conveys the message that using the product will help people to increase their social status. In doing so, they set a certain standard for the product, enabling them to justify a higher price.
Cause and Effect - Companies sometimes use a cause and effect technique by presenting a problem and then claiming that it can be solved with their product. Quite often, consumers don't even realize that these "problems" existed in their lives until they saw the ads.
Emotional Appeal - In some cases, companies tap into their consumers' emotions to help sell a product. Think about ads that promote products for infants. They are filled with warm, loving images of mothers bonding with their babies. This type of imagery helps new mothers to identify with those emotions, and in turn identify with the product. It indicates to them that the company understands them and their needs.
Price Appeal - The price appeal tactic makes consumers believe that they are receiving something of higher or additional value at a lower price. Common examples of this are percentage discounts. This technique is especially effective in urging consumers to buy a product even if they originally had not planned to. The danger here is that using price appeal in advertising could trigger a price war among competitors.
Testimonial- Testimonials are used to show the customer that someone not associated with the company endorses the product. This might come in the form of famous celebrities, or even unknown average users. The idea behind this is to simulate word of mouth. People tend to believe claims when it comes from a third party.
Sex Appeal - Sex appeal in advertising works in two ways. In the first version, the advertiser may use sex as a motivator to attract consumers to view and consider purchasing the product. For example, hiring a sexy, scantily-clad woman to do product demonstrations of cars or video games appeals greatly to the predominantly male audience. In the second version, sex appeal indicates to people that using the product will help to make them sexier. Advertising for women's beauty and personal grooming products often rely on this technique.
Bandwagon - Sometimes advertisers urge people to purchase a product by convincing them that it is already popular with everyone else. A perfect example is the iPod. It caught on fast as a trend, and soon almost everyone was sporting the miniature gadget and distinctive white earbuds.
Confusion - With confusion, the advertiser first attracts the customer's attention by presenting them with an array of confusing information. As the customer then tries to make sense of it, they are hooked into the rest of the message. Technology companies often do this by inundating consumers with a series of technical specifications and data.
Technical Jargon - To indicate to consumers that the company is an expert in their field, the advertising may use a large amount of technical jargon. This impresses the customer and convinces them that they are in good hands.
Transfer - Some advertisements convince consumers of a product's qualities by comparing it to another item or idea. This other item may not always be directly related to the original product. In this way, the advertiser transfers qualities from one item to their own product.
Name Calling - By name calling, the advertiser makes a comparison between their product and that of a competitor's. However, they do this in a way that highlights the positive aspects of their own product and stresses the negatives of their competitor's. Political ads especially use this technique.
Plain Folks - In the plain folks tactic, advertisers attempt to associate their product with average people. It is the direct opposite of snob appeal. Average middle class people are convinced that the product in question is something that is required in their lives. This might be done by showing a normal family or a familiar situation.
Glittering Generality - When advertisers use glittering generality, they conjure up an evocative mood or feeling that is related to the product. However, apart from this, the ad may not offer further information about the product or its benefits. This is used to make consumers believe that using the product will help them to achieve that same mood or feeling.