Three questions to ask yourself before advertising…

Three questions to ask yourself before advertising.

I was recently chatting with a friend who works for a renewable energy solutions provider. He revealed that after many years in a field sales role, he had moved into the firm’s marketing team.

My friend was looking for advice on how to approach advertising, especially in defining the aims of a singular advertisement or even a more extensive campaign.

Many years ago, I was fortunate to work alongside a highly talented chap called Tony Jones, who had been in the marketing/advertising industry since the mid-’70s. Tony was always willing to share his wealth of knowledge with my team and I. Tony retired several years ago and is now enjoying life on the golf course but his advice still proves to be helpful.

One gem that he shared, which I have always appreciated, is the three questions to ask yourself before advertising anything. I have tweaked the suggested outcomes of these questions to remain relevant to the modern world.

Careful consideration should always be given to advertising, and the marketer should define specific aims before passing any direction on to creatives to work their magic. It is relatively easy to decide on the general purpose of your brand’s advertising by answering these three simple questions:

1. Why are we advertising?

We may be advertising to inform people about a new or improved product or even a special offer; it may be to raise brand awareness or persuade users to use our services. Whatever the purpose, we must be very clear on where we focus the consumer’s attention and ensure that we keep it simple. Mixed message advertising often leads to confusion and can dilute your brand narrative, which can be challenging to restore.

2. To whom are we advertising?

Advertising should position the brand against it’s most profitable market segment.

In a basic business model, this would typically be the prime market to which the brand presents itself. This group of consumers, often defined by demographic data, are often selected as the primary target either because they are the most significant spending group or because they have the highest consumption rate of a particular product or service.

Many companies today work across multiple markets, with each often crossing over in some areas, so defining whom we are targeting is essential. A decision has to be made on which group or groups are to be the target of the advertising.

Narrowing in on a specific group of potential customers allows the advertising to land more effectively with that group and gives us a cleaner route to tracking outcomes. However, hitting a wider audience may result in more awareness. Still, it can result in a confused picture of the brand in the mind of those encountering the advertising and can cause problems when analysing any data captured during the campaign.

Answering this question becomes more straightforward as your brand develops its advertising and analyses the collected data from campaigns in a meaningful way,

3. What are we offering the consumer?

You need to say more than just “a fuel filter” or “an umbrella”. You should expand upon the description, especially if you are directing other creatives. For example, you could say “a specialist fuel filter for high-performance engines” or “an umbrella for the commuter who wants to stay dry and remain stylish”.

Please note that this is not advertising copy and it is not even a copy brief. It is merely a statement of what the product or service is for.

Defining the aim

Combining the answers to these three questions allows the marketer to easily define the aim of the advertising in a straightforward and uncomplicated manner. See the example below.

Why are we advertising?
We want to introduce a new product to the market, capture user data, generate enquiries and website sales.

To whom are we advertising?
We are targeting potential and existing customers working in the aerospace component sector.

What are we offering the consumer?
A high-tolerance CNC drilling machine for finishing airframe cast components.

The defined aim – We would like to introduce a new product to the market, capture user data, generate enquiries and website sales. The target audience is made up of potential and existing customers working in the aerospace component sector to whom we are offering a high-tolerance CNC drilling machine for finishing airframe cast components.

The above is a straightforward example, but you can quickly see how answering these questions can assist you in defining the aim of any advertising material you need to produce. I have found that this process helps keep all the creatives involved on the same page, e.g. brand managers, creative directors, copywriters and designers.

I hope that Tony’s advice will be helpful to others as it has been for me.

Thanks for reading!

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