#AdvertisingShould Be Less About Advertisers

Enough about you, let's talk about me!

Yesterday Ian Lurie published a post on the Portent blog called Advertising should. The concept was to build on what advertising should be, rather than what advertising currently is.

It coincided with the launch of advertisingshould.com, which aggregates everything on Twitter that uses the hashtag #advertisingshould.

Ian also asked for contributions – “Tweet how you think advertising should work, and use the hashtag #advertisingshould.

Before I throw in my thoughts, I have to admit that I’ve never felt any connection to the word “advertising.” To me, advertising is about paid media and interruption marketing, and conjures up images of large media buys, magazine spreads, and 30-second radio & TV commercials.

That world is foreign to me – I’m coming from a place of creating interesting things and spreading the word about them. I was already doing that before I ever realized that I could do it on behalf of companies for a living. That act of creating interesting things as a brand conjures up a different word to me: marketing.

So, with that grain of salt, here’s my two additions:

1) #AdvertisingShould Be Less About Advertisers Click to Tweet

Enough about you, let's talk about me!

Here’s the wikipedia definition of advertising (emphasis mine):

Advertising is a form of communication for marketing and used to encourage or persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners; sometimes a specific group) to continue or take some new action.

So, let’s talk about persuasion for a moment. There’s a concept created by author Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion called the 6 Weapons of Influence. The 6 weapons of influence are:

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Commitment and Consistency
  3. Social Proof
  4. Authority
  5. Liking
  6. Scarcity

If advertising is about persuasion, and you want me to like you, the biggest thing advertising needs to do is focus on me, not on the advertiser.The concept is pretty straightforward – these are the 6 triggers you can use to persuade people. I want to focus on #5: liking.

Take a look back at How to Win Friends and Influence People, the quintessential guide on how to be a more likable person. Dale Carnegie lists 6 ways to make people like you:

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

Advertisers – can you count how many of those items are about you? The answer is just one of them – smile – and it doesn’t involve talking about yourself.

If you want me to like you or your brand, quit talking in terms of what you offer and start talking in terms of how you help me. How do you make my life better?

2) #AdvertisingShould Be Less Deceptive Click to Tweet

Does it really Ad up? by Lab42There was an infographic released by a market research firm called Lab42 last week called Does it really Ad up? – you can click on the thumbnail to the right to load it.

They surveyed 500 people about their perceptions of advertisements. Here’s a handful of the results:

  • Only 3% of those surveyed described the claims made in ads as very accurate.
  • 87% think half or more cleaning product ads are photoshopped.
  • 96% think half or more weight loss ads are photoshopped.
  • 76% thought ads were somewhat or very exaggerated.

Ads have a reputation for deception.

Over the life of a brand, I believe persuasion by deception will hurt far more than it will help. I’m struggling to come up with some good supporting evidence for that, but I’m not sure if it’s necessary.

Let’s go back to the 6 weapons of influence for a moment:

If I, as a consumer, think your company or your ads are deceitful, you’ve instantly made me (A) dislike you, and (B) question your credibility and therefore your authority. That doesn’t mean I won’t buy from you, but it’s not the type of activity that builds brand loyalty.

If your ads aren’t working towards building credibility, authority, and brand loyalty, you’re wasting your money.

So those are the two things I think advertising should be – focused on how you can help customers, and honest.

Here’s a few of my favorite contributions:

#AdvertisingShould be measurable:

#AdvertisingShould evoke emotion:

#AdvertisingShould stop yelling:

Feel free to link to your favorites in the comments.

Kane Jamison

Kane is the founder of Content Harmony, a content marketing platform that helps you build better content briefs. He's also the instructor for Content Marketing at the School of Visual Concepts in Seattle, and an industry speaker at events like Mozcon, EngagePDX, SMX Social, State of Search, LavaCon, Wordcamps, and more. You can find him on Twitter at @KaneJamison.

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