Objectives & Strategy in Advertising

Without looking in the dictionary, let’s cook up a definition. Here goes: “There’s this entity — the promoter. He, she, or it wants to communicate a message in order to achieve something. The word advertising covers this whole matter.”

Put everything through the wringer

You may have read, in this guide’s section titled, “History of past campaigns,” that when you’re pursuing sellable facts, you should disregard the small points. Forget that stupidity. Instead, leave no stone unturned. Consider the product from every angle. For example, fill in these blanks:

This product is a ____. Its purpose is to ____. The person who needs it is a ____. The product helps him by ____. It ends an ordeal with ____. The prospects should care because ____.

When you’re marketing a product, every part of it is “the potential Eureka,” because something you didn’t assess might jump out at you.

“Um… about those strict orders you gave me?”

You won’t lead your company to the goals by following every smart person’s advice. You’ll probably find their directives don’t match. Follow them all and you’ll only run around in circles, water down your ad, bark up the wrong tree, or some other metaphor. Rather, let their advices (new word) enhance and modify your judgment.


If you try to take in the whole project in one sitting, it will be too overwhelming and you’ll avoid the assignment. So, take it a piece at a time. When you come up with a solution in one sub-area, it will help you in some of the others.

Getting to the objectives

What are the goals for this ad, anyway? Here are some questions that can help you find the answers.

Questions about you…

* Why are you advertising?
* What kind of results do you want?

Questions about the ad…

* What is this ad trying to do?
* What are the priorities for it?
* What is it trying to say?
* What kind of tree would it be?

Questions about the audience

* What are we asking the audience to believe?
* How do you want the audience to be changed after seeing the ad?
* What is the audience supposed to come away with?

Making notable progress over time

When asked to predict how well your campaign will perform, say this: “I know our organization wants a complete turnaround in a matter of weeks, but this is like an exercise program. We’re going to make notable progress over time. That’s a more realistic goal.”

Don’t have too many goals for an ad

You’ve already been given many objectives for one little ad. Like these:

* “Get lots of responses”
* “Say our product the most convenient”
* “Improve our company image”
* “Introduce a new feature”
* “Respond to a competitor’s bogus claim”

Coworker Cram Jammitz says, “You need to add another objective, and this is critical. We need to emphasize that ours is the most durable. Don’t you think it’s necessary to say this?”

That’s a trick question. The answer is: It’s time to reexamine what this ad is supposed to do, because it’s too full of objectives already. Some points need to go into other places, like the direct mail piece.

Satisfying the criteria

You come up with a superexcellent concept, and you fall in love with it immediately. For example, you write this headline: “Are your records stored in Uranus?” Then you realize it has a fatal shortcoming.

The mistake is to go forward with the flawed ad and hope nobody will notice or care. Most often, the defection will grow, and it will damage the campaign. The idea wasn’t worth all those troubles. Change “Uranus” to “Mars” now — before it becomes something you don’t want.

Face it: You’re selling!

One way or another, you have to sell to people. Enjoy it.

Don’t believe a successful copywriter who says, “I don’t know, I don’t try to sell anything. I lie in my garden and make little sketches of the gooseberries, and the words flow out.”

Correction: He is selling, because he is successful. It’s just that he knows how to slice the “Aw shucks” baloney and make it his self-package.

Watch the most “sincere” politicians and you’ll see the same mechanics in motion. The winners sell almost all the time. The top-top winners act as if they aren’t selling… when of course they are.

You don’t just create ads, you create responses

Here’s some cold water in the face: If you produce ads, you’re an expense. And expenses get cut. If you produce results, you’re a revenue source. And you don’t get cut. Hopefully.


It’s it

Strategy is figuring out what you’re going to do. And as the copywriter, developing the right strategy is the most necessary work you’ll perform.

“Come on!” someone declares. “Choosing which direction to go is more important than creating content?”

Yes, because your copy is an implementation of your strategy. If your strategy is good but your creative is inferior, you’ll probably succeed. However, if your creative is good but your strategy is inferior, you’ll probably fail.

Also, your strategizing never stops, even when you’re deciding how to arrange your final copy blocks. So, wherever you are in the process, understand that you can’t be a la-la copywriter who lets everyone else handle the strategy. You have to think… and think… all the way through.

Building the framework

The framework is at the core of your strategy. It’s a simple structure your whole team should agree to before going forward. It consists of five parts, and it forms the basic basicnesses of your campaign. Here they are:

Product: What you are advertising.
Prospect: The best person to attract.
Problem: The best dilemma you can solve for the prospect.
Competition: What you can’t say because competitors say it.
Appeal: “This product gets past the competition and helps this prospect solve this problem.”

We’ll learn about these parts starting in a few pages, but there’s some other stuff first. Afterwards, you’ll assemble a phenomenal framework.

No planning is wrong…

… and over-planning is wrong. It’s foolish to throw ads out there without putting lots of thought behind them. However, it’s also bad to waste valuable months erecting a giant plan that collapses under its own weight. You need to strike a balance. Immediately.

Out with the old

Some of the smart old methods have to be tossed away. For example, the old way is to put an ad through 15 revisions before putting it out there. Please reconsider doing this, because we’re in the digital communication world. It’s better to get the ad out there in 21 days, generate responses, and keep improving everything. Three points:

This is what your smartest competitors are doing.

Minor improvements probably won’t increase the response.

You can’t say, “I took the normal amount of time to create this ad,” when the feeling is, “We’re in the digital age. You can get a great ad done in a very short time.”

Be zippy

Here is the familiar (slow) game plan for resultful advertising:

The product gains awareness in the market…
… then the prospects begin thinking favorably about it…
… and the prospects respond.

This plan makes sense on paper, but it usually falls apart in the real world. It takes too long to get responses, and the advertiser runs out of money, time, and patience.

Here is the less familiar (speedy) way: Do everything at once. In one ad, tell prospects why they should be aware of the product, why they should use it, and why they should respond now. As a result, many prospects should reply now. A respondent will say afterwards, “I never heard of that product before. I still can’t remember the name. But I contacted them, and they’re sending me a sample.”

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