If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, Any Road Will Do

by James on May 27, 2010

An effective advertising strategy knows what it needs to do, it knows where it’s going and what it’s trying to deliver. This seems simple enough, but I keep seeing posts, here’s one on Biznik, LinkedIn Direct Ads vs. Google Adwords: Which one is better?, and tweets about adverting, that keep missing this fundamental point — your objective matters.

An effective advertising strategy delivers against one of two broad objectives: demand creation or demand fulfillment. That’s it, just the two.

On the other hand, consumers experience several stages before they purchase: from satisfied to prospecting and then consideration to purchase. An advertising strategy designed to create demand is the right choice for the first two stages. An advertising strategy that’s focused on demand fulfillment is what you need at the end.

Now pay attention, you need both and don’t confuse them, they aren’t the same.

For example, if you are considering online advertising, banner ads are much more effective when focused on demand creation. Click through rates are ridiculously low, less than 1%, so don’t expect banners to generate response (demand fulfillment) because that’s what you want them to do. Not going to happen. Period. It’s like expecting a 30 second TV spot, devoid of a response mechanism, to generate phone calls.

But, banners can be an effective tool to let people know what your product offers, to position your product against its competition. Banners can be effective demand creation advertising.

The second screen has arrived and it’s in your customer’s living room.  30% of internet use is happening simultaneously with television viewing. Try running banners in the same daypart as your TV ads. If they look down at their laptop during the commercial break you have a chance to get your message across with your online ads. Go on, try it, use banners to create a little demand.

Be sure to have a paid search campaign running at the same time. Search is all about demand fulfillment. If you do create a little demand use Search to capture the interested shoppers.

This is confusing, it’s a lot of messages.

Why can’t I just run the same brand message in all my ads?

Because your consumers aren’t all at the same interest level at each stage.

To manage all the messages write a reveal strategy that identifies what you want to say about your product, at each stage, to entice your prospect to take the next step. For example, don’t waste real estate on your landing page puffing up your brand. You’re telling visitors what they already know. Give them a compelling reason to take action. Draw them in and entice them to buy from you. Take some time to understand landing page best practices and watch your conversion rate soar.

For an advertising strategy that generates results, be sure to consider what stage the target audience is in and set the objective appropriately; are you trying to create demand or fulfill demand. It’s hard enough to achieve one objective, don’t expect an ad to do both.

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