33 Advertising Techniques That Rise Above the Noise

 It is a simple concept. People don’t read ads; they read what interests them. So if you are going to generate winning advertising techniques, you are going to have to create some creative ideas and compelling copy. And, oh, by the way, it must be more interesting than the millions of other advertisements out there. Now that is a daunting task, isn’t it?

Related post: Insurance Advertising War … 8 Examples to Learn From


Check out our thoughts on creative marketing.


It has been said that advertising is the price to be paid for being unremarkable. That may be true, but I have noticed, despite the growth in on-line marketing, that even remarkable businesses also advertise the old fashion way. It is an essential component of your marketing campaign, for awareness or consumer education of your value.


According to Nielsen, there are 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared each day.  And Statistic Brain says that our average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds – one second less than a goldfish!


We check our phones 150 times per day. We check our email up to 30 times an hour. And the amount of information in the world continues to double every 18 months.


All this available information and data is creating a battle for customer attention between brands, publishers, and every one of us who creates content. But more importantly, it’s forcing businesses to think and act like publishers and creative designers.


Ever written an advertisement, or thought about it? I’ve done marketing for my clients in small businesses for the past 4+ years, and I’ve learned a few things about making advertising look professional even on a tight budget. Many small businesses don’t have a lot of time or resources to have ads professionally made. So what’s a small business to do?


If everyone is creating content, how does a business break through the noise? How do we reach our customers in a way that engages them?


Here are ten critical enablers we rely on to create compelling advertisements that can do both:




Before undertaking the design of an ad campaign, consider the following:


What would you like to accomplish with your ad campaign?


What are you offering to your potential customer?


Why is your product or service unique?


All of these questions are essential to defining the advertising strategy. Here are some additional factors to consider:


Target the end state values to your customers

A good example of this is Dell’s fast delivery of a custom computer.


Be relevant to your target market.

Keep in mind that one message does not fit all. It starts with knowing insights of your target market.



Define your positioning

Your positioning is the frame of reference. Make comparisons to your competitors if you can.



Clearly, link your messages

Link your messages to your brand. Remember the AFLAC duck or E-Trade’s talking baby … these are great linkages to the brands.



Advertising techniques … messages and content


       Use simple words complemented with powerful visuals


Make your messages simple


So simple that the reader will quickly understand. Keep in mind that pictures are far more valuable than words.


Your Logo

If your business’s logo/name doesn’t contain what you do, make sure to clarify that in the ad. For example saying “Ron’s European Inc. Collision Repair” instead of just “Ron’s Inc.”


Add information about what your business does and how you intend to help your potential customers.


Less is more

Don’t overwhelm people with information. Keep it as simple as possible while getting the useful information across to the viewer.


You only have a few moments to communicate, so use powerful, focused and straightforward words – such as ‘free,’ ‘unbelievable,’ etc.


Use easy arguments

Easy cases are the conclusions people reach using inferences without a careful review of available information. Find and use original arguments that work because it is almost impossible to succeed when working against them.


Optimize the content

A call to action is crucial. Make it large and prominent to catch give the viewer’s an incentive.


Keep your message personalized – address it to one person, not to masses of people.


Ask a question to get the viewer thinking.


Give the readers a reason to act right away (for example – ‘today only’).


Use testimonials.


Make it easy for the customer to reach you. Add the telephone number, mailing address, and the web address


Here is an example where the heading is very misleading. Do parent immunize their children to “help the community?” It’s a noble thought but entirely unrealistic for those outside the healthcare profession. Parents are concerned about their children’s welfare and their immediate family’s far more than the communities.


The use of the word “flatline” subconsciously associates vaccinations with death. It’s not about killing the flu. It’s about gaining peace of mind, and feeling like you’re making the right choices as a parent.


appeal and attention
Notice appeal and attention?

Appeal and attention

Present appeal that grabs consumer attention


Grab and hold viewers’ attention


Interesting information is the foundation.  Your ad messages must be appealing to your target communities.


Headlines are the first place for attention

Here are techniques that we have found to be most effective:


Be newsworthy


Define your benefit


Ask a question


Create curiosity


Variation is essential

Use multiple creatives for an ad campaign. Our best performing campaigns are the ones that change banner creative often. We highly encourage new creative every couple of weeks for a fresh new look, and to decrease burnout.



According to John Caples’ book, Tested Advertising Methods, there are three classes of successful headlines:


Self-interest Headlines

This headline appeals to the reader’s self-interest and contains a personal benefit to the user. These are the best performers.


News Headlines

They add something new and are rated the next best.


Curiosity Headlines

Rated third best, they arouse interest. For curiosity headlines to be most efficient combined with self-interest or news.


This Samsonite ad lacks any story, any coherence, or any relevance. The entire idea is a non-sequitur — two things that shouldn’t go together, but which are smashed into the same space. The idea of professional hockey players using luggage in the place of sticks is absurd, and since the ad is meant to be flashy, not humorous, the absurdity makes no sense whatsoever. And the image itself is very poorly done. It’s not the worst national ad campaign we’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly a good example of a bad ad.


visual elements
Use lots of visual elements.


Visual elements


             Visual elements should be part of the story


Support your messages with visual elements like a photo or graphics. This can be your logo, a picture of your business, or a graphic to support your messages.


Show and don’t tell

“Seeing is believing” and “actions speak louder than words” are two common sayings that reflect a bias and preference for visual presentation.


Use symbolic language and images that relate to the senses?

People prefer symbolic language and images that relate to the feelings. People are far less receptive and responsive to language and images that relate to concepts. Life is experienced through the senses and using symbolic language and images that express what people feel, see, hear, smell, or taste are easier for people to understand, even when used to describe abstract concepts.


Use compelling videos to convey your messages

The truth is that the processing capacity of our brains is limited and words may get in the way of emotionally powerful visual images. When powerful visual images dominate – when “a picture or video is worth a thousand words” – be quiet and let them do the talking.


Articles with images get 94% more views than those without. And posts with videos attract 3X more inbound links than plain text posts.  A study by 3M showed that 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.


And this holds up when you look at how the social world is evolving. The meteoric rise of sites like Vine, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as the efforts by Facebook and Twitter to add more visual elements to their platforms, are only following the trend that visual content is the best way to reach short-attention-span audiences in a world filled with so many content choices.


McDonald’s is always coming up with innovative new ways of advertising, this brilliant print ad being its latest offering. The eye-catching visual design features a box of fries, carved from the very ingredient from which they’re made. Simple but conveying a powerful yet memorable message.



Emotional influence


                      Create emotional impact wherever you can


Tell a simple story that evokes emotion

A good story has a beginning where a sympathetic character encounters a complicating situation, a middle where the character confronts and attempts to resolve the situation and an end where the outcome is revealed. A good story does not interpret or explain the action in the story for the audience. Instead, a good story allows each member of the public to understand the story as he or she understands the work. This is why people find good stories so appealing and why they find advertising that merely conveys information boring.


Convey basic emotional appeal

Experiences that trigger our emotions are saved and consolidated in lasting memory because the emotions generated by the experiences signal our brains that the skills are important to remember. There are eight basic, universal emotions – joy, surprise, anticipation, acceptance, fear, anger, sadness, and disgust. Successful appeals to these basic emotions consolidate stories and the desired calls to action in the lasting memories of audiences.



Effective advertising techniques … design and layout


         The biggest design and layout mistake? Too much information.


Information hierarchy

Choose information that’s most important and make it your primary element of the ad. Every piece of information in your ad should be weighted according to its importance. Make sure it is prioritized from most critical to least.


Use space wisely

Don’t use every inch of white space because you can. Leave some “breathing room” so people can digest your message. We believe the more, the better.


Use contrasting colors for fonts and backgrounds to make sure that your copy is readable. The best combo is dark type on a light background, so it’s easier to read.


Fonts, fonts, and fonts

Use mostly sans-serif fonts and use different font sizes to differentiate the importance of the copy. Avoid using too many font types or too many font colors (think one or two max). A little color and a lot of white space go a long way.


Layout makes a difference

Be sure that your ads flow from left to right (as the eye travels left to right)


Pay attention to color schemes … avoid designs that are too busy


The size of the headline font should be big, and powerful enough to grab the attention of the reader.


This hard-hitting print ad aims to raise awareness of child labor… a simple but effective offering. Two things that could use some improvement, however: The ad is in black and white (when all the other ads on the page were color, and most of the fonts are the same size and too small. By adding color and font size increase and variation, they could have spiced things up!



Advertising and design … eEffective value proposition


Sometimes the value proposition is the packaging, not the product.


Define a value proposition that discriminates you from your competition. It is essential that you give your customers reasons to select you. It is amazing to us that many campaigns neglect this.



Identifiable music

Match what viewers see with what they hear


People expect and prefer coordinated audio and visual messages because those messages are easier to process and understand. Audio and visual messages that are out-of-sync may gain attention, but customers find them uncomfortable.


Identifiable music

Music can be a rapidly identified cue for the recall of emotional responses remembered from previous advertising. Making the same music a recognizable aspect of all advertising signals the audience to pay attention for more relevant content.


A great TV ad by Dell that celebrates new business startup successes. Check out this memorable music that does a fantastic job of complementing the ad’s messages … ‘this magic moment.’




Call to action

                A simple call to action is needed on all ads.


Say exactly why people should contact your business and what you can do for them. For example “Come home to a life that is SIMPLY MAGNIFICENT.”


Make the desired call to action a part of the story

A good story that is very entertaining but does not make a direct connection between the call you want to action and the story is just a very fun story. The whole point of the story in advertising is to efficiently deliver the desired call to action. If the audience does not clearly understand the call you want to action after seeing the ad, then you are missing the real opportunity. Remember this: having an entertaining story and clearly delivering the desired call to action are not mutually exclusive.

Related post: Successful Advertisement Design … 12 Best Examples to Study



Part of an integrated marketing campaign

Make your ad a component of an integrated marketing campaign.


It’s key to have social integration across all areas of the business. Social media is a tool to be used across all functions: HR, sales, marketing, product design, online, and customer support. Look for how all areas of social (listening, research, support, content, and analytics) come together to have an impact on customer experience and employee collaboration. Embed social media in the fabric of the company and empower your staff to use it to achieve better results for clients and the business. This is the best way to create integration in your marketing.




So if you remember one thing from this article, remember this:


 Marketing or advertising, you need to create information that your customers find interesting and worth talking about and remembering.


So what’s the conclusion? The conclusion is there is no conclusion. There is only the next step. And that next step is entirely up to you.


It’s up to you to keep improving your innovation and creativity in ad designs. Lessons are all around you. In many situations, your competitor may be providing the ideas and or inspiration. But the key is in knowing that it is within you already.


All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that struggle gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.


When things go wrong, what’s most important is your next step.


Try. Learn. Improve. Repeat.


Are you devoting enough energy to improve your innovation design?


Do you have a lesson about making your change better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?


Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+Twitter, and LinkedIn.  


Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change.  We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.


More reading on marketing strategy from Digital Spark Marketing’s Library:

Ogilvy on Advertising … Best Lessons Learned from his Secrets

Volkswagen Ad … The Secrets to Its Effectiveness?

Effective Advertising … 14 Best Examples of Ad Design

Use 8 Breathtaking Commercials That Employ Emotional Appeal




33 Advertising Techniques That Rise Above the Noise