Back to Basics: Dos and Don’ts in Advertising

Advertising doesn’t have to be complicated. The simpler ones tend to be the best. Then again, what is simple? Sometimes, you might find yourself ineffective amidst the ever expanding tricks of the trade and technological trends and advancements.

Don’t let yourself be lost in the marketing commotion. Refresh your mind with the basic dos and don’ts of advertising. You just might get a whole new perspective from the core principles you may have left behind.

DO: Define your goals and expectations.

You can go a long way if you talk about the goals and expectations as a team for your company. You can always get better success with advertising campaign if everyone agrees what each campaign’s goals are right from the beginning.

Say you’re being asked to deliver a checking promotion, ask the following questions and answer as a unit: What is your ultimate goal? Are you simply trying to increase the number of relationships? Do you have average balance expectations? Do you need to grow deposits overall by a certain amount?

Your primary objective can have a huge impact on the texture and composition of your campaign. If the overall goal is simply to generate deposits, you don’t care about the number of accounts you open. You could target a narrower, upscale audience with a bigger product offering, a higher rate or generous offer in a unique, targeted promotion. However, if you’re after sheer volume of new accounts, then you’d want to use mass media to advertise a product with wider appeal.

DON’T: Overlook your website.

Today, maintaining your website – and committing to continuous quality improvement – is an absolute must. Don’t be like what most enterprises do; they focus their efforts too much on their ad campaigns, and ignore the fact that they have an outdated website. They lose a lot of reach in terms of advertising just by simply having a bad layout with their website.

If your site needs an overhaul, don’t bother investing more in advertising until you fix it. In today’s world, even consumers who might choose you because they live nearby are likely to “check you out” online. If your website looks archaic, this could stop them dead on their tracks.

Your priority should be making sure that your website is consistent with the brand you promote in your campaigns. The brand personality should be reflected in all aspects, such as tagline, fonts, colors, and other messages. Ideally, if your website is easy to navigate, it can explain your brand and products succinctly, and make it easy for your prospects to go your way.

Also, don’t forget to regularly test your online applications. Many financial institutions have invested money in online ad campaigns, only to lose prospective customers due to a complicated, time-consuming or broken online account opening process. Some even have links to dead online applications.

DO: Understand your target audience better.

One of the main concepts of better advertising is to always take into account your target demographic or audience. An ad campaign could be effective, for example, to millennials but could never attract the older generations. What could work for one age group won’t necessarily work on other age group.

Then again, this does not apply to age group alone; if you’re advertising to students, you should have a different approach when you’re trying to penetrate the young professional market.

Take this example: most banks and credit unions want to generate more accounts from 18-34 year olds. However, rarely do they take the time to get to know this target market, and how to relate to them. An 18-year-old is very different from a 30-year-old, in practically almost all aspects of life. Therefore, you would want to consider each in terms of the products you offer and where you offer them.

For an 18-year-old, most likely, his or her parents would have chosen their first checking account. As such, you would want to consider how to reach both parents and kids before the kids go off to college. On the other hand, a 30 year-old could very well have young kids of their own at home. Think about how and where you can reach out to newly formed families.

DON’T: Jump on every bandwagon.

Most advertisers – especially the ineffective ones – get caught up in what their competitors are doing, assuming their competitors are smarter and seem always in the know. That is rarely the case. If you want to be a success, carve out your own distinctive brand. Do your homework, know your strengths, understand your target audience, and make a brand promise that is relevant and meaningful. Most important, be unique. No one becomes successful just by following everyone else.

The advertising world is changing constantly, and there’s always that one new fad. However, that doesn’t mean that every new thing that comes along makes sense for you. QR Codes are a great example. For a while, they were touted as the hottest thing to hit the advertising world. However, how many QR codes have you actually clicked on?

They’re helpful when you actually have compelling additional information or a big payoff, but they’re not for everything. Simply slapping a QR code on your marketing materials that does nothing more than point your prospects to your general homepage, which is not all that necessary or helpful – it’s just gimmicky.

Then there is Foursquare, a popular social tool that rewards visits to an advertiser’s location. The last thing most banks and credit unions want to encourage is more branch transactions. You are responsible for knowing understanding the tools you’re using and how they fit within the context of your organization’s goals. Choose options that can help you achieve your objectives, and forget the rest.

DO: Advertise the Benefits.

Follow the basic principle of advertising always: people don’t buy products – they buy the benefits they derive from them. For instance, consumers don’t buy a Volvo because of side airbags and all-wheel disc brakes. They buy Volvo because it provides them with a sense of safety.

In the same way, the people behind are ardent with advertising the legality of their steroid supplements, because this is what people are looking for – something that can help them strengthen their body.

Think about what benefits you provide to your customers. Do you save them time? Do you make their life easier? Your advertising strategies always work better when it contains a targeted consumer benefit.

DO: Be consistent.

Some advertisers feel they have to change their tagline, or their colors, or their look-and-feel every year. Some even think they need to “mix it up” with each new campaign they run. Be mindful when you try to do this; you are simply dulling your identity’s ability to build your brand.

If you know what your brand stands for, you shouldn’t have any problems picking the right voice for your copy, the right colors and fonts, the right imagery. Once those decisions have been made, there isn’t any reason that you shouldn’t stick with that for years.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to keep repeating the same layout over and over as well. Don’t be dull and repetitive; the point of consistency is not to squelch creativity. Being consistent simply means that consumers should be able to recognize your brand from one ad to the next.

Think about Apple’s advertising. It’s always clean, simple, smart, clever and attractive — which is what their brand and their products is all about. You can spot an Apple commercial from a mile away. While Apple’s products have evolved significantly over the last 35 years, the brand and its personality has remained consistent. Just think how much harder your ads could work if you did the same.