Five Key Elements Every Advertising Strategy Should Include
An advertising strategy isn’t the same as a marketing campaign, though some people will use the terms interchangeably.
Knowing how to view an advertising strategy — and what elements to include in one to make it successful — is the first step in furthering a brand’s greater development. This is perhaps more important now than in recent memory, as the COVID-19 Pandemic changed how we spend our advertising dollars. Staying current with the latest marketing and advertising strategies is key to not only success but survival.
Here are five essential principles every advertising strategy should adopt to stay current, relevant, and effective.
1. Advertising Strategy Should Encompass Larger Goals
An advertising plan shouldn’t be about just one product or market; instead, it should focus on a company’s larger goals. Driving a single customer to a sales funnel or purchasing decision should never be a marketing strategy’s single — or even primary — objective.
Whether developing brand awareness, positioning a brand as an authority or trusted source, or simply communicating a company’s values to its core consumers, every advertising plan should focus on bigger picture aspirations.
AEO’s lingerie subsidiary Aerie did this brilliantly with their #AerieREAL campaign. By promoting body acceptance and positivity over any specific product, line, or offering, Aerie successfully seized significant market share from established intimates titans like Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood.
2. Develop a Clear Buyer Persona — and Speak Directly to It
Understanding a brand’s advertising journey involves identifying and understanding its target market. Identifying the ideal customer involves knowing much more than just basic demographic information.
Knowing their values — what causes are important to them, how they relate to the world around them — is essential. Advertising can be inclusive and have broad appeal but must still focus on communicating its core message to those most likely to interact — and ultimately convert.
Perhaps one of the best examples is the 2006 “Most Interesting Man in the World” advertising campaign, which targeted an underserved and under-marketed audience of casual, occasional beer drinkers. By identifying and speaking to that consumer, Dos Equis saw an increase in sales of nearly 40% and created an advertising campaign that would go viral — and become iconic.
3. A Clear, Compelling, Stand-Alone CTA
The call to action is arguably the most crucial component of any single advertising effort. Think of it less as directing or instructing a user and more as inspiring them to take further action. To be inspiring, a CTA must be clearly stated in convincing, action-focused language, and it must be singular.
Multiple CTAs not only run the risk of muddying an advertising plan’s message but can also fatigue and confuse a user. Advertising copy can extoll the virtues of a product or service, explain virtues and communicate value, but the call to action must be clear, concise, direct, and unique.
An excellent example is the “Got Milk?” advertising campaign, featuring a tagline that doubled as a brilliant CTA. First launched in 1993, it increased worldwide milk consumption by 13.5 million gallons in its first year alone and ran for 25 years before being retired.
4. Understand the Buyer’s Journey
Meeting your buyer persona where they are is integral, but an advertising strategy must build on those initial efforts. Knowing how to lead engaged users to the next desired stage of interaction is essential. Whether it’s providing marketing consent, direction to the top of a sales funnel, or other objectives, knowing what the experience looks like from the customer’s perspective is critical.
Developing the right advertising approach involves understanding how to produce content that has real value and relevance. Knowing what information will resonate with your target audience is essential to landing your message successfully. In addition, ensuring users have a clear and easy-to-follow path is key to removing any friction they might encounter.
Sometimes, advertising strategy doesn’t involve direct advertising at all, and it’s essential to keep that in mind when contemplating a customer’s purchasing experience and any obstacles they may encounter. For example, when confronted with tapering sales lost to an influx of low-cost imported products, Levi Strauss & Co. sent pamphlets to 25,000 HR departments across corporate America.
The pamphlets were a guide to “casual business wear,” which led to more workplaces adopting more casual dress codes on specific days. By understanding that its ideal customers would prefer to wear more casual clothes, the Levi’s brand advocated for their preferences. Doing so in this unorthodox — but brilliant — way solved the company’s flagging sales problem by creating a smoother path to purchase for its target customer — and created Casual Friday in the process.
5. Integrate and Support Brand and Marketing Objectives
Just as an advertising strategy must encompass larger goals, it must integrate with, support, and advance existing marketing and brand awareness efforts. Continuity is vital for positive public perception, but the real goal here should be to aid in the growth and evolution of a brand.
A successful advertising strategy is holistic and encompasses and builds on existing brand objectives and overall marketing goals while refining them to reflect changing consumer needs and preferences.
One need only read or hear the words “Every Kiss Begins With Kay” to be reminded of how Kay Jewelers has been building on brand objectives since first adopting the slogan nearly 40 years ago. Even though the ubiquitous tagline has received mixed reviews from consumers, it is instantly recognizable — Kay Jewelers enjoys a stunning 98% brand awareness across North America.