For better or worse, advertising is an integral part of global cultures. It can be found everywhere—in print and broadcast media, airport terminals, city buses, sporting events, clothing and every aisle of every retail store. It's also ubiquitous on the Internet. Advertisers are scrambling to secure real estate for banner ads on popular websites.
No matter where you find it, advertising is a provocative medium that has the power to make a product, service or company highly visible and appealing to consumers and businesses in today's competitive commercial environment.
Advertising's core objective is to pique purchasing interest by causing customers to strongly identify with a need, desire, idea or image. Advertising communicates a promise that a product or service will fulfill. Take Nike's "Just Do It" campaign. It implied that individuals could achieve their full potential with the help of sports gear.
In tandem, advertising can promote corporate image, educate buyers on product benefits, differentiate offerings from competition and, ultimately, boost profit potential through product exposure to target audiences. At its best, advertising is a powerful motivator. For example, a finely tuned print ad for a new sports car can appeal to a consumer's self image. At its worst, advertising can be a turnoff.
Advertisements in New York City's Times Square.
For every company, advertising should be a part of an overall corporate marketing strategy that also includes public relations (PR), which is meant to create a favorable public image of a business. While complementary, advertising and PR are not interchangeable. Advertising uses corporate image for promoting goods and services through mass and niche media. PR uses image to manage long-term relationships with a business entity's stakeholders, including customers, the media, shareholders, partners and the public. Both advertising and PR are covered in a media plan, which outlines communications goals, target audiences, key messages and media outlets, while detailing deliverables such as ad campaign placement, news release schedules and media events.
To expand advertising's reach, many companies are employing alternatives to traditional print, radio and television media, including sponsorships of local sports team and events; live demos of products and services; e-mail campaigns; web banners and pop-up windows; consumer surveys; point-of-purchase displays; and even sky advertising through the use of blimps and airplanes. Alternatives are only limited by a company's imagination and budget.
Because managing the strategic, creative and media placement plans for ad campaigns is time-intensive, outsourcing to a reputable ad agency may be the right decision.
Agencies have rich experience, offer objectivity and are attuned to current advertising trends. They know what works for specific industries and companies. Agencies have talented professionals, such as art directors, writers, photographers and media buyers, that allow them to pull together the disparate components of a new ad campaign quickly. They also have strong media ties, including relationships with ad reps for leading trade and consumer media and with broadcast producers in specialized areas like home products or technology. Moreover, agencies have the time and resources to foster these relationships while managing hectic production schedules.
So, if you want to launch your first ad campaign or take your corporate advertising in bold new directions, apply these suggestions to yield big business rewards.