"Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising."
Advertising is life made to look larger than life, through images and words that promise a wish fulfilled, a dream come true, a problem solved. Even Viagra follows Mark Twain's keen observation about advertising. The worst kind of advertising exaggerates to get your attention, the best, gets your attention without exaggeration. It simply states a fact or reveals an emotional need, then lets you make the leap from "small to large." Examples of the worst: before-and-after photos for weight loss products and cosmetic surgery-both descend to almost comic disbelief. The best: Apple's "silhouette" campaign for iPod and the breakthrough ads featuring Eminem-both catapult iPod to "instant cool" status.
"When in doubt, tell the truth."
Today's advertising is full of gimmicks. They relentlessly hang on to a product like a ball and chain, keeping it from moving swiftly ahead of the competition, preventing any real communication of benefits or impetus to buy. The thinking is, if the gimmick is outrageous or silly enough, it's got to at least get their attention. Local car dealer ads are probably the worst offenders - using zoo animals, sledgehammers, clowns, bikini-clad models, anything unrelated to the product's real benefit. If the people who thought up these outrageous gimmicks spent half their energy just sticking to the product's real benefits and buying motivators, they'd have a great ad. What they don't realize is, they already have a lot to work with without resorting to gimmicks. There's the product with all its benefits, the brand, which undoubtedly they've spent money to promote, the competition and its weaknesses, and two powerful buying motivators-fear of loss and promise of gain. In other words, all you really have to do is tell the truth about your product and be honest about your customers' wants and needs. Of course, sometimes that's not so easy. You have to do some digging to find out what you customers really want, what your competition has to offer them, and why your product is better.