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The Techniques of Advertising

Updated on January 12, 2011

Advertisers use a wide variety of copy and art techniques in their effort to gain and hold the attention of prospective customers and to stimulate buying. These selling methods vary according to the nature of the product advertised. They are also modified according to the type of customer whose patronage is being sought. Advertisements in medical journals, for instance, usually present specific facts about drugs or other products of interest to physicians. Such advertisements are written in medical terms and have a tone that is in keeping with the medical profession.

The appeal to self-interest is used far more emotionally and dramatically in consumer advertising. There the advertiser is dealing not with a specialized scientific or commercial subject but with the whole range of human feelings. A biologist buys a microscope to meet a clear-cut need in pursuit of his profession. A housewife buys a shampoo for far more complicated reasons. It is true, of course, that the shampoo is specifically useful in cleansing the hair and scalp. However, other benefits, or supposed benefits, are associated with this practical usefulness. Psychological factors are involved. The customer is interested in the improved appearance of her hair and in the added attractiveness it might give her. A more attractive appearance, in turn, might make her more popular. Hence, an ordinary product, such as a shampoo, has many possible selling points.

The advertiser takes advantage of these selling points by showing beautiful women and attractive social situations in association with his shampoo product. Such illustrations, with the accompanying headlines and copy, have an emotional impact on the shopper. The shopper is not being urged merely to buy a shampoo but to buy a way to realize her hope of becoming more attractive.

This emotional approach to advertising is used extensively for packaged goods, such as soaps, cosmetics, and medications. Through motivational research or analysis, advertisers attempt to find out the specific personal or social benefits that people associate with each type of product. Then, in advertising individual products, they use illustrations and copy that dramatically portray these benefits. Among the most widely used illustrations are pictures of babies, attractive men and women, and well-known people.

The use of slogans is a traditional technique in advertising. A slogan is a phrase or expression that gives ready identification to a product and implies or states its quality, its convenience, or its promise of benefit to the shopper. A slogan by itself does not have the selling force of an advertisement. However, it can help to influence the buyer's choice of brands.

Sometimes, contests are used as an advertising device. By offering prizes in a contest or a drawing, the advertiser gets special attention for his product. Contests stimulate word-of-mouth and other publicity. A contest may be run for any one of a number of purposes: to give the regular advertising and marketing campaigns a special boost; to introduce a new product; to arouse consumer interest in a new feature of a product; or to help solve other selling problems.

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