“Evaluating your Advertisement”

This post is from Ed Burghard’s blog: “http://strengtheningbrandamerica.com/blog/2012/05/evaluating-your-advertisement/

If you aren’t reading any of Ed’s material, I highly advise adding him to your list of terrific blog writers.  He is always informative and thought provoking.  I have learned a lot from this gentleman over the past couple of years.   I hope you enjoy this and find it useful.  And again, please check out Ed’s site – you will truly be glad you did.

Charley

Evaluating Your Advertisement

The blog post on features versus benefits received a lot of attention, so I thought I’d follow it up with a little exercise and a reprise of an earlier blog post on assessing advertising.

10 Questions to Evaluate Your Advertisement

In that post I identified 10 questions to ask about any print advertisement.

  1. Is the advertisement focused on communicating your community’s promise?
  2. Does the advertisement make you want to learn more?
  3. Do you feel rewarded for having invested the time to read the advertisement?
  4. Is the advertisement distinctive so you’ll stop to read it?
  5. Does the idea focus on the benefit of your community’s promise?
  6. Is the advertising idea meaningful to your target audience?
  7. Does the advertisement make you think AND make you feel something?
  8. Is there drama in the advertisement that brings the benefit to life?
  9. Does the advertisement visualize the benefit?
  10. Does the advertisement include an authentic reason to believe the benefit will be experienced?

Two Real World Case Studies

Let’s take a look at two real advertisements and try to assess them against these criteria. The comments are based solely on information presented in the advertisement and represent one person’s opinion.  The comments are provided for illustrative/educational purposes only.  They are totally judgment based, not data based. If data exists to the contrary, the data based answer should be the one that is paid attention to.

Chesterfield Economic Development

  1. The promise appears to be that Chesterfield County is business friendly. The headline “The grass is greener. The sky’s the limit.”, suggests Chesterfield County may be a superior location option.
  2. The claims are fairly standard (i.e. educated workforce, low tax rate, business friendly government).
  3. The advertisement doesn’t offer unique insight about Chesterfield County.
  4. Visual likely has average stopping power.
  5. Advertisement is feature focused, not benefit focused. The reader is actually directed to a website to learn what the benefits are.
  6. The claims are about meaningful topics to capital investors.
  7. The advertisement makes logical, not emotional claims.
  8. No real drama in the visuals.
  9. The visuals support the headline.
  10. No “reasons to believe” the claims are provided.

Greater Fayetteville, North Carolina

  1. The promise of the community appears to be a “hometown feeling”, but the promise of the advertisement appears to be low operating costs for pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms.
  2. Yes, the advertisement makes an offer of a free copy of a study that the reader is likely to want to explore further.
  3. Yes, the translation of the 32% savings versus national average into a case study that illustrates how a company might save $8.9 million a year makes me feel reading the copy was worth my time.
  4. The headline and visual has stopping power.
  5. Advertisement does translate the feature of lower cost into the benefit of savings, but could go further.
  6. Yes, the concept of lowering operating costs is meaningful.
  7. The advertisement makes you think. But, it does not make an emotional connection with the reader.
  8. No. The advertisement relies on a pun for stopping power.
  9. The visuals support the headline, not the promise.
  10. The body copy does a great job of offering proof and the call to action encourages a deeper exploration of the reason to believe the claim.

Industry Observations

The community promise is not driving the copy in either advertisement. Instead, it is treated as a logo element. This is a sign that the community promise may not be sufficiently compelling. A disciplined approach to branding would suggest there were only two courses of action for an advertisement that does not communicate your community’s core promise – 1) reject itfor being off strategy and send the Agency back to the drawing board, or 2) revisit your community promise to be certain it meets the criteria of being relevant, competitive and authentic, if not then align behind a promise that does before directing the Agency to do more creative work.

Weak drama. Drama in advertising is key to creating engagement and making your advertisement memorable. Drama is about capturing the reader’s attention so you have an opportunity to tell your story. Place branding advertisements tend to rely onpuns for stopping power. Puns are a real challenge in B2B promotion. When they work, they work great. But, if the reader doesn’t “get” or appreciate the pun it can be a disaster. And, if the pun does not support the promise, it could be very distracting. If you get a reader to spend 30-seconds looking at your print advertisement you are doing well. Wasting any of that 30-seconds for for your reader to try and puzzle out a pun needs to be challenged.

Visuals tend not to strongly support the promise. My best advice is to think about a billboard. The words and pictures need to be reinforcing for a billboard to work. If they are not interdependent, then there is a risk the message will be confusing. Many Agencies like to use the visual to reinforce a headline that they feel is clever. But, if the headline does not communicate your promise, then clever simply doesn’t cut it.

There is often a call to action that can be used to measure results. Advertisements that direct the reader to their community’s website offer a good opportunity to track click-through rates. I particularly like the concept of offering additional, believable proof of your community’s promise as an inducement to take the action.

Discussion

Place branding is fraught with many examples of feature based advertising, and advertising that was not developed as a creative transformation of a community’s core promise.

Take a look at the two case studies. On an A,B,C,D,F basis what grade would you give each? Do you have a differing point of view on how you might answer the 10 questions? Do you have examples of community advertisements you believe can be considered as best in class?

Acknowledgement

My special thanks in advance to Fayetteville, NC and Chesterfield County for being understanding in my use of their community’s advertisement to illustrate how to apply the 10 questions.  The critique should not be interpreted in any way as a reflection on the success of the respective campaigns.

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About Economic Development Data Services, Inc.

EDDS is a company focused on providing effective, efficient solutions for local governments in the areas of community and economic development and strategic planning. We offer the BARC - Business Assistance Recruitment Calculator - tool and website solutions in developing economic development websites. Our new website is www.econdevdataservices.com
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