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Does Advertising Really Work?

I’m sure you came to this post to find out if advertising really works. Well, the answer isn’t that simple, it depends.

Advertising is a slippery slope, what works for one business might not work for another. Advertising is trial and error. Learn from your mistakes (or others)!

Define What’s Successful For You

The best piece of advice I can give is to define what success means to you. Advertising should be designed based on what you are trying to accomplish. Success isn’t the easiest thing to measure but when you notice an increase in your revenues, you can guess that it probably worked.

If you are a landscaper you probably shouldn’t be taking out ads in the local newspaper. No one is going to read that and call you. The same can be said for your website. If it doesn’t grab attention in the right way, chances are people aren’t coming to your site.

There was recently a campaign in NYC for planting more trees. Their advertising technique was tagging things like a lamppost or a fire hydrant with signs that said “not a tree.” This is a form of in your face advertising that really works. It got people’s attention in the right way. This campaign used forms of traditional advertising like print, radio, TV, billboards etc.

This campaign has gotten people talking, which is the point of advertising.

Advertising is currently in limbo. It’s in a phase that benefits smaller businesses that don’t have massive amounts of money to spend on advertisements. It’s a balancing act of finding what is going to be the most successful for you.

The Death Of Traditional Advertising

There is a lot of debate about whether traditional advertising is dead or not. But like we said before, you have to measure and define success based on what works for you.

I am not trying to discredit traditional advertising but there is evidence to back-up that people are becoming more educated consumers, with way more options. In the days of “Mad Men” they used tactics like fear, wants and desires to create ads that were interruptive and captured attention. However in today’s world, people are becoming more aware of these methods (Sorry Don) and don’t like them. Sometimes this type of advertising makes people lose trust.

In the example I used above about the tree campaign, it’s a form of traditional advertising that worked. But like I said – what works for one person might not work for another. When I was younger I was in love with the movie “Josie and The Pussycats” (in my eyes it should have won an Oscar) but it describes why traditional advertising isn’t always so successful.

The antagonists of the movie tried subliminal messaging to get people to buy products. And for quite some time that worked. But once the audiences found out, they stopped listening. This is exactly what has happened with audiences today. We once fell victim to these interruptive or subliminal ads but now we realize their evil ways.

People are starting to tune out what they want and don’t want. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I listened to an ad on the radio and went out and bought that product. But most brands I would buy probably don’t use traditional media because their buyer audience isn’t using that medium.

The New Type Of Mad Men (Rise Of Digital Advertising)

Advertising is shifting from traditional campaigns to more creative innovative methods. The rise of digital advertising allows your brand to be spread across different platforms. This helps reach and target larger audiences.

Digital advertising can be successful or not depending on your approach. An example where digital advertising isn’t successful is when it’s disruptive. When you are on YouTube to watch a video, the last thing (at least for me) that I want to watch is an ad. Once that little bar pops up saying, “skip ad” I’m out.

Digital advertisements that are effective are images. Images are easily shared on the Internet through Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Simple or humorous images can do wonders for a campaign.

Content Marketing and its Cousin Inbound

Content marketing and inbound marketing aren’t the same thing. They’re related, but they mean different things.

Content marketing puts the importance on the content. Content is anything from blogs, white papers, video tutorials etc. Inbound marketing focuses on creating traffic and driving conversions. Inbound is more of the business side while content is the creative.

Advertising is a form of content. You are creating something to sell your brand or product. Content marketing is a form of advertising on the newer spectrum.

A technique of advertising through content marketing is creating a great user experience. A really good example of this is the women’s retail site “Rent the Runway”. Rent the Runway is an online website that allows women to rent designer dresses for a discounted price. They don’t do much advertising outside social media or the Internet but are widely successful. The answer to why they are so successful is that they make women feel like a celebrity. The site creates a user experience that is actually a form of advertising. (Sneaky!)

This is an example of how content marketing works as a method of advertising. Inbound marketing techniques using content marketing strategies don’t cost as much as other forms of advertising. Inbound marketing is basically free, unless you’re paying someone to do it for you.

Tell us what type of advertising works for you in the comments below!

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