by Jeff

Did you know that there are 12 kinds of Ads?

Granted, this model is geared towards TV ads, but, yes, accord­ing to Don­ald Gunn, a for­mer cre­ative direc­tor at the leg­endary Leo Bur­nett agency, there are only 12 kinds of ads.

I’m not going to go into them here, since you can read all about Gunn’s cat­e­gories over at LifeIsMarketing.com, but I am going to give you an alter­nate frame­work for think­ing about ads.

So what’s the framework?

It’s the same Frame­work that’s been made famous — or, at least more famous — by its men­tion by the Heath Broth­ers in the open­ing chap­ters of their justly famous book, Made to Stick, wherein they men­tion an Israeli research paper, “The Fun­da­men­tal Tem­plates of Qual­ity Ads.”  Accord­ing to the pub­lished research, 89% of award win­ning ads could be clas­si­fied into 6 basic templates.

More impor­tantly, pro­vid­ing ama­teurs with just 2 hours of train­ing on the use of these tem­plates boosted their abil­i­ties to pro­duce ads that pos­i­tively affected audi­ence per­cep­tion of the adver­tised prod­ucts by 55%

And now I’m going to break those tem­plates down for you :)

Just keep in mind that, again, these tem­plates were dis­cov­ered while research­ing award win­ning ads, not nec­es­sar­ily sales increas­ing and market-share win­ning ads. But for what it’s worth, here are the tem­plates, com­plete with handy-dandy examples:

Tem­plate 1: Pic­to­r­ial Analogy

In tech­ni­cal terms, this type of ad cre­ates a dra­matic sit­u­a­tion and then makes a sub­sti­tu­tion between the prod­uct and another item with sym­bolic sig­nif­i­cance in order to illus­trate the value or worth of the prod­uct.  The idea is to cre­ate an unex­pected or sur­pris­ing expla­na­tion of the value of the prod­uct through visual metaphor.

If that’s hard to fol­low, just look at the nike exam­ple to the right.

In the ad you are intro­duced into a dra­matic sit­u­a­tion of hav­ing to jump from a burn­ing build­ing only to find that the fire­fight­ers’ safety net/trampoline — an item with huge sym­bolic value — has been swapped for a nike air shoe.

This pic­to­r­ial anal­ogy cre­atively illus­trates the pro­tec­tive and cush­ion­ing func­tion of Nike Air tech­nol­ogy and is rein­forced by the ad copy which calls the air tech­nol­ogy, “Some­thing soft between you and the pavement.”

 Tem­plate 2: Extreme Situation

This tem­plate shows a prod­uct per­form­ing beyond the lim­its of nor­mal use in order to exag­ger­ate a key attribute or worth.

This may seem sim­i­lar to the pic­to­r­ial anal­ogy, but it’s dif­fer­ent because it requires no use of sym­bol­ism or anal­ogy — it’s more straight­for­ward in it’s extrem­ity.  The cleve out­door ad for the super­glue isn’t try­ing to make a visual pun, it’s just show­ing the glue used in an exag­ger­ated extreme.

The same can be said for this ad for WMF knives:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tem­plate 3: Extreme Consequences

This tem­plate shows the exag­ger­ated results of either using the prod­uct or the exag­ger­ated con­se­quences of not using it.  This lis­ter­ine ad shows the extreme con­se­quences of NOT using their mouthwash.

While this ad for Won­der­bra indi­rectly shows an extreme con­se­quence from using their product:

Tem­plate 4: Competition

As the name indi­cates, this tem­plate shows the prod­uct in direct com­par­i­son with either com­pet­ing prod­ucts or exag­ger­ated alter­na­tives. This Ver­i­zon ad is about as straight­for­ward a com­pe­ti­tion ad as you can get:

While this Land Rover ad is a bit more indi­rect, both in its exe­cu­tion and in what it sees as the product’s real competition : )

Tem­plate 5: Inter­ac­tive Experiment

Yes, boys and girls, non-internet ads can be inter­ac­tive. And, no, that doesn’t require the use of QR codes and such. Just take a look at this great ad for DHL:

Tem­plate 6: Dimen­sion­al­ity Alteration

This is where you show some attribute of the prod­uct or ser­vice by alter­ing the envi­ron­ment.  A clas­sic exam­ple is this old-school head­line for a faster cruise ship:

Start­ing next tues­day, the Atlantic ocean becomes only one-fifth as long”

But my favorite exam­ple of this isn’t an ad at all, but a quote from Billy Wilders immor­tal, Sun­set Boulevard:

You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pic­tures; you used to be big”

I still am big — it’s the pic­tures that got small.”

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Here’s what it looks like in a print ad that com­presses time to show consequences:

 

And that’s a quick and dirty break-down of the ad tem­plates.  Hope you find ‘em useful.

P.S. if you’re inter­ested, most of these 6 cat­e­gories include sub-categories, that you can read about in the orig­i­nal research.  But for those too lazy to do that, here’s a quick and dirty chart show­ing all the sub-categories:

 “In fact, I’m going to apol­o­gize. This whole ‘dream myth’ has been prop­a­gated by news reporters like me. Because we love telling this story, we love the dream. When­ever you write a pro­file of some per­son who is a suc­cess or who is going to jail, you always start at the end and fol­low the line back so it looks like it all makes sense. You sit some­one down and you ask, “When did you first dream of being an opera singer (or a Nobel–prize win­ning econ­o­mist, or the worst inside trader of all time)?”

Then you ask, “What obsta­cles did you have to over­come? How did you tri­umph?” Reporters are no dif­fer­ent from every sto­ry­teller through time. We want to tell and hear the hero’s jour­ney. The epic myth.

You know what never makes it into the hero’s jour­ney? All the dreams that didn’t work out. There’s just not time. You never hear the part of the leg­end where the hero just wanted to chill for the sum­mer, hang out in Port­land, and fig­ure some stuff out. Get his head straight. That hap­pens, but every sto­ry­teller edits that out.”

NPR Reporter, Robert Smith, dur­ing his Reed Col­lege Com­mence­ment Address

It is per­haps fit­ting that Steven Press­field has run a series of arti­cles on “The Hero’s Jour­ney” of late, because his lat­est book explores exactly those areas of the jour­ney that Robert Smith accuses reporters of leav­ing or edit­ing out of most sub­jects’ “suc­cess sto­ries.”  The part where the hero — delib­er­ately or uncon­sciously — choses the wrong career path, some­times repeat­edly. Or where she sand­bags it for a sum­mer to “get her head straight” or work through some stuff.

In other words, most peo­ple leave out exactly the part that the rest of us des­per­ately need to know — what hap­pened to get you from the point where you weren’t mak­ing it to the point where you were!  How’d you make the leap, man?  Tell us!

And there’s a sim­ple rea­son most peo­ple don’t tell us, even beyond the reporters desire to present us with slices of life with the bor­ing parts cut out. Quite frankly, that shit is embar­rass­ing. Who wants to talk about self-sabotage, mis-steps, and unsuc­cess­ful careers. Not me.

That’s what makes Steven Press­field such an incred­i­ble trea­sure and stand-up guy: he’ll do it. And in Turn­ing Pro, he does just that; he gives you exactly the nitty gritty on HOW to turn pro, what hap­pened before he turned pro, and what you can expect in the journey.

So if that’s the kind of stuff you’d like to learn — if you’re tired of read­ing all those dream come true sto­ries with the impor­tant shit cut out — then link on over to Black Irish Books and grab your­self a copy!

P.S. Black Irish Books is the new pub­lish­ing com­pany started by Steven Press­field and Shawn Coyne.  It’s a great ven­ture and worth sup­port­ing, so even if you’d rather get your copy from Ama­zon, please con­sider order­ing direct from the author.

 

OK, the head­line exag­ger­ated it — most of these resources won’t help you improve your entire Lead Gen Web­site, just your Lead Gen­er­a­tion Forms.

But, if your forms suck, then all that hard per­sua­sive work you’ve done on the rest of the Web­site goes to waste, right? So why not get hot on improv­ing your forms now, so you can enjoy a full pipeline of well-qualified prospects later?

So let’s start with…

Wis­dom from the Eisenberg’s

Resource #1: 5 Steps to Increase “Qual­i­fied Leads” from Your Website

Great infor­ma­tion for ensur­ing your Web­site is pulling in prof­itable and qual­i­fied leads rather than tire kick­ers.  This is one of the few resources that does actu­ally talk about more than just lead forms. And just for good mea­sure, here’s a ClickZ arti­cle from Bryan that also gives rec­om­men­da­tions applic­a­ble to both your entire Lead Gen Web­site and your forms.

Resource #2: Online Form Opti­miza­tion: 3 Sim­ple Form Prob­lems to Fix

This is a great strate­gic, top-down look at the three big flaws afflict­ing most lead-gen forms. I’m sure you’re doing to know what those three flaws are, but you’ll have to click-through to find out :)

Resource #3: 7 Form Fac­tors to Increase Conversions

This one looks at the major ele­ments that are part of every lead gen­er­a­tion form, and then tells you how to max­i­mize the effec­tive­ness of each element.

Now Let’s Look at…

Split Test Results Worth Studying

Resource #4: Wider Fun­nel Tests a Newslet­ter Sign-up Form

This is a great test for a few rea­sons, but mostly because the test explic­itly forms hypoth­e­sis to test, prior to cre­at­ing the test, rather than just throw­ing vari­a­tions against a wall to see which one “sticks.”  Plus the hypoth­e­sis and lessons learned are really insight­ful and broadly applicable.

Resource #5: Wider Fun­nel Tests for Form Length and Form Flow

Another solid test­ing write-up from Wider Fun­nel.  Worth the read.

Case Stud­ies & Usabil­ity Guidelines

Resource #6: Les­son From Madlibs Signup Fad: Do Your Own Tests

If you’ve never heard about them before, the Madlib style sign-up form proved a hit with sev­eral busi­nesses and blog­gers on the Web a few years back. But when this guy tested it out for him­self, he found a dif­fer­ent story.  Bot­tom Line: best prac­tices are in no way guar­an­teed to work in your spe­cific sit­u­a­tion, and sur­pris­ing, head-slapping tests are fairly com­mon for any­one that runs them. Think for your­self & do your own testing.

Resource #7: An Exten­sive Guide to Web Form Usability

Smash­ing Mag­a­zine has no short­age of great arti­cles on Web Design and Usabil­ity.  This one is no exception.

Resource #8: Test­ing Form Length Reduces Cost Per Lead

Mar­ket­ing Exper­i­ments has a nice blog post on this, and one of the more inter­est­ing points about this isn’t the find­ings — since shorter forms almost always DO increase con­ver­sion, thereby dri­ving down cost per lead — but the point made at the end: that the “extra” infor­ma­tion you’re hold­ing out for is prob­a­bly not that accu­rate or valid to begin with.  This is a great one to show to naysay­ers who fight the “shorter is bet­ter” mantra.  That and the ol’ “Let’s just test it and see” strategy : )

So that’s all eight of them.  Now go out and do some opti­miza­tion testing!

 

In a salute to all the new grad­u­ates this spring, I’m replay­ing one of my favorite posts, about the most gifted book a grad­u­ate is likely to receive…

Say­ing What Your Cus­tomers Can’t

If I told you one par­tic­u­lar book sells almost 300,000 copies every sin­gle year, what would you guess actu­ally dri­ves those phe­nom­e­nal yearly sales? Want a few hints?

  1. It’s not a how-to, Chicken Soup, or For-Dummies book
  2. The vast major­ity of those 300,000 copies are sold in the spring

Give up? The book is Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go – an incred­i­bly pop­u­lar gift for graduates.

That book man­ages to pow­er­fully com­mu­ni­cate what hun­dreds of thou­sands of par­ents and rel­a­tives all want to say but can’t quite seem to say nearly as well as the good Doc­tor.  And because he has so gra­ciously sup­plied them with the means of say­ing it, Dr. Suess con­tin­ues to sell huge amounts of books spring, after spring, after spring — for as long as there are proud par­ents of new grad­u­ates need­ing to hear the message.

The ques­tion for you, dear Busi­ness Owner, is what are you help­ing peo­ple say?

  • What are you help­ing them say about themselves?
  • What are you help­ing them say to others?

Because not quite know­ing how to say what’s on your heart is some­thing we all suf­fer from - and some­thing most of us will gladly pay for relief from.

Are you will­ing to har­ness the same profit engine that Dr. Suess has used to sell mil­lions upon mil­lions of copies of Oh, The Places You’ll Go?  This bril­liant radio ad by Adam Don­moyer rep­re­sents a per­fect exam­ple of how to har­ness this power to drive sales:

Daddy’s Lit­tle Girl

That ad sold more watches that Fathers’ Day than that jew­elry store has ever sold on any day, ever.  All because they helped plenty of daugh­ters say what they really wanted to say, but weren’t quite able to give voice to on their own.

What are you help­ing your cus­tomers say?

 

Not only is it pos­si­ble to ani­mate your adver­tis­ing with the proven car­toon­ing prin­ci­ples of squish and squash, but it works even bet­ter when you apply some of that same strate­gic ani­ma­tion to your busi­ness itself.

But to do that, we have to under­stand how Squish and Squash is related to exag­ger­a­tion and visual impact. Here’s an excel­lent exam­ple I down­loaded and swiped from Mark Kennedy’s bril­liant blog:

Before Squash and Stretch

After Squash and Stretch

The dif­fer­ence is pretty astound­ing isn’t it?

Full align­ment with the direc­tion of move­ment + exag­ger­a­tion of the line of move­ment.  And just to drive home the “exag­ger­a­tion of the line of move­ment” part, take a look at this other swiped pic­ture from a Willard Mullin down­load (also down­loaded via Mark Kennedy):

What’s This Got to Do With Your Business?

First of all, under­stand that there’s the prod­uct or ser­vice you’re sell­ing, and then there’s what you’re REALLY sell­ing. Because unless you are hawk­ing com­modi­ties at com­mod­ity prices, what you’re really sell­ing goes way beyond prod­uct or ser­vice and get’s down to brand promise.

And the deliv­ery of brand promise within your busi­ness is where you need all that align­ment and strate­gic exag­ger­a­tion.

Take Star­bucks, for exam­ple. Did they really need to call their small, medium, and large cof­fees Tall, Grande, and Venti?  It’s almost kind of silly, isn’t it? The kind of thing that’s eas­ily parodied.

But it’s also an exag­ger­a­tion designed to make the names aligned with the brand promise (not to men­tion the brand prices). Same thing with the music, the decore, the ludi­crous choices and spe­cial lingo for how you want your drink pre­pared, etc.

This kind of exag­ger­a­tion and align­ment takes guts pre­cisely because it’s easy to make fun of. But the added profit makes it easy to endure the laughs : )

Bot­tom Line: the expe­ri­ence of what­ever it is that you’re *really* sell­ing could eas­ily be improved with a lit­tle ani­ma­tion via align­ment and exag­ger­a­tion. You just need the desire and the guts to do it.

P.S. I apol­o­gize for the “brand promise” jar­gon. I gen­er­ally try to steer clear of marketing-speak, but that was the only term I could come up with to get at the non-tangibles that allow a branded prod­uct to eas­ily charge pre­mium prices.  

When ani­ma­tors, and often times writ­ers, wish to show an inter­nal, emo­tional state, they’re forced to look for and use “objec­tive cor­rel­a­tives.”  In other words, they have to use the out­ward cues and signs that cor­re­spond to the emotion.

And just as impor­tantly, they then have to “ani­mate” those cues and signs through a form of artis­tic exag­ger­a­tion. For instance, when a man sees an excru­ci­at­ingly attrac­tive woman, his pupils will dilate, his eyes will widen, and his heart will race a bit, or “skip a beat.”  This is all rel­a­tively sub­tle (even if the atten­dant leer­ing and head snap­ping is not), but sub­tle is not how ani­ma­tors need to do things.  So this is how they rep­re­sent it:

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Under­stand that this is not just crude exag­ger­a­tion, but instead rep­re­sents a process of:

  1. Find­ing the right cues and signs (aka small spe­cific details) for a given emo­tion, reac­tion, or situation
  2. Exag­ger­at­ing those cues and signs through the ani­ma­tion prin­ci­ple of Squash and Stretch.

Apply­ing This to Your Marketing

When asked what makes them dif­fer­ent, unique, and bet­ter, a whole lot of Main Street Busi­nesses end up with the response that “we care about the cus­tomer,” or “we sim­ply pro­vide bet­ter qual­ity and bet­ter service.”  

Yet while it’s won­der­ful that they do care — I wouldn’t want to write ads for a busi­ness owner who didn’t, frankly — you sim­ply can’t put that in your adver­tis­ing and expect results.

So what do you do?

You look for the objec­tive cor­re­lates and you apply some squash and stretch.

In other words, what are the signs and cues of your car­ing and your supe­rior qual­ity?  Car­ing is an inter­nal state on your part. How does the cus­tomer end up sens­ing or expe­ri­enc­ing that care?  What actions do you take and what sac­ri­fices do you make because you care?

If you insist on higher qual­ity, how does that play out in the con­struc­tion process?  How does that impact the cus­tomers expe­ri­ence of your prod­uct?  In what ways would they be sorry if they didn’t get that higher level of quality?

Now exag­ger­ate and ani­mate these things in your adver­tis­ing. So let’s sup­pose you own a bak­ery that spe­cial­izes in donuts and, well, you really care about the qual­ity of your donuts.  And one of the objec­tive cor­rel­a­tives of that is that you’re will­ing to get up at an ungodly hour in order to ensure that your morn­ing cus­tomers will get freshly made donuts each day. Here’s what a lit­tle squish and squash might do for you:

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If the squish and squash part seems a bit tricky, you’re right to think so — it IS tricky.  And if you’re guess­ing this doesn’t just apply to the ads, but to the busi­ness itself, you’re guess­ing right on that as well.  Cre­at­ing some objec­tive cor­rel­a­tives and then exag­ger­at­ing them a bit is a big part of imput­ing qual­ity and “learn­ing to think like the cus­tomer.”  More on this later : )

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