2
Sep

The Power of Words in Advertising

The power of words is especially important in all human cultures and must be thoroughly understood for effective advertising. Regardless of which language is spoken by which people, we are in awe of the impact word choice can have.  “The pen is mightier than the sword,” according to English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton. All of existence began with “the Word” according the Old Testament, which also begins with the Word. The Persian poet Rumi once said, “Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” The First Amendment to the United States Constitution deals entirely with the protection and importance of self-expression. So what impact does the power of words have on your marketing efforts and the perception of your brand?

All Media Interpreted as Words

In today’s fast-paced, digitally-obsessed world it can be easy to forget the complexity and fundamental nature of language. Marketers are constantly hearing from social media platforms, designers, and ad agency executives that visual cues matter most. Video reigns supreme on social. People love to capture a moment in a photo for a succinct communication of its impact. But have you ever stopped to think about the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”? The importance is the relationship. The picture is defined in terms of words – not the other way around. No one ever said “one thousand words are worth a selfie”. Words are the foundation of our understanding. They are the foundation of our communication.

All advertising is a means of communication. Marketers use every media available to communicate a message, story, and emotion to their intended audience. People receive and process each attempt into words. A deaf person learns to communicate with visual words. A blind person learns to communicate with tactile words. It is our words that matter in advertising so that we can achieve the desired result.

Word Choice

As mentioned before, the power of marketing can and should elicit an emotion. The emotion could be the joy of saving money or the nostalgia of the past or anything in between. Every purchase decision ever made is rooted in an emotion. Now take a look at the following two words and the difference their meaning may have:

Discover
Learn

Both could be used as a call-to-action in an advertisement. “Discover the new Porsche 911 today” or “Learn about the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class today”. The difference lies is the imagery evoked by the words. “Discover” offers a connotation of adventure, exploration, and excitement. “Learn” delivers recollections of classrooms, tutors, and textbooks. Both words imply the acquisition of knowledge, but in very different ways.

One important tactic for marketing success is to understand that context matters. If the audience is comprised of engineers, programmers, or other professionals with a technical skill set, the word “learn” may be the best choice. “Discover” would serve a better purpose if the audience is young skydivers looking to purchase apparel. Knowing the psychology of an audience is vital to effective word choice.

Professor Gerald Zaltman is a Professor Emeritus at the Harvard Business School, and author of Marketing Metaphoria. He has spent years teaching the customer mind to his students and using metaphors to better interact with those customers. There is an understanding among qualitative market researchers about how people process and associate images and experiences through the power of words. That is the goal of successful marketing.

The Power of Words to Affect Action and Recall

Metaphors have been famously used in advertising jingles for decades. Chevrolet was “Like a rock”. State Farm is “Like a good neighbor”. Such phrases conjure easily understood imagery. The power of words can actually produce a chemical reaction in the brain. If powerful words are used to trigger an emotional reaction they can prompt the release of dopamine. That dopamine enhances the brain’s ability to remember. A good call-to-action is a memorable one. The audience should be directed to embark on a single action after receiving the stimulation of the advertisement. Effective branding includes recall rate and top-of-mind awareness. For the audience to remember the advertiser and what they were asked to do, they need an emotional stimulant.

According to a 1959 study by J.A. Easterbrook, high levels of emotional arousal result in narrowing of attention and stronger commitment of that experience to memory. Today’s consumer is more easily distracted than ever. They require greater stimuli to capture their attention. The average American transient attention span is 8.5 seconds. A goldfish has 8.0 seconds. Their attention must be captured and then acted upon.

10 Words That Make an Impact

Now for the cheat sheet. Here are 10 words that you can use in your marketing campaigns.

  • Love – The only emotion arguably more powerful is fear. Love is a positive emotional connection.
  • Free – Stimulation of the desire to save. Most people want to make smart financial decisions (even if they don’t always do so).
  • Unique – Exclusivity makes a consumer feel special. The word can also be used to describe a product or service feature. Doing this separates the offer from competition.
  • Opportunity – The positive version of a risk. Opportunities are discovered. Risks are stumbled upon.
  • Guarantee – Providing a sense of security to the customer. Also denotes stability from the advertiser. Remember Kia’s 10-year warranty announcement?
  • Win – Depending on context, this may resonate more strongly with men than women. But both genders want to avoid losing!
  • Increase/more – People seek to optimize what they already have or do. The product or service that delivers such results gets the win.
  • Real – A statement of genuine materials, processes, or results. Break down the walls of artificial promises or ingredients.
  • Now – Reduces hesitation before action or confusion about timing.

The 10th word on this list is the most powerful of them all. It changes the intent and interpretation of the statement. Most importantly, it personalizes everything within it.

You

“You” forms a connection with an individual. It encourages them to place themselves along the path you want them to follow. In radio, it is a key component of the “theater of the mind”. Humanizing a product, service, or even a result can make a substantial difference in ad recall, action, and revenue. By including the word “you” in marketing, the audience immediately thinks of what the product or service does for and with them. A separation from the group and focus on the individual. This is a shining example of the power of words.

Language in Tomorrow’s Marketing

Technology and data are being combined to create the most personalized and customized marketing in history. Marketers have the ability to know their customers on a very personal level. As this capability advances, marketers must be ever more aware of the power of words and the language used in each media.

As you depart this blog, remember:
At Arkside, our winning knowledge is free because we love you and offer guaranteed access to unique wisdom now and in the future so you can increase your real ROI at every opportunity.

22
May

The Importance of Product Branding

by Christian Cuevas, Operations Assistant

What is product branding? Why is it important?

Branding refers to the way people perceive your business; these perceptions are a reflection of what your company means to them.  Company branding is often seen as something that may develop naturally throughout the life of the business; however, it is a very critical aspect to a companies success which requires going beyond getting the job done. Establishing an emotional connection between a person and the business he/she is dealing with is not an easy thing, especially in highly competitive markets. In competitive markets, businesses must find ways to differentiate themselves in order for consumers to easily determine where they are going to buy their good or service. Business owners often try achieving this differentiation through lowering the cost of their good or service. But they can also do so through well executed product branding.

Apple logo branding on iphoneThough consumers will generally respond positively towards a cheaper alternative, there is a reason people are willing to pay $1,000 for a smartphone that has the same functions as a phone that costs half of that price. As you read that last sentence,  your brain may have already automatically made a connection between a product and a company. Regardless if you are a fan of Apple or not, their immense popularity in the marketplace is undeniable. When Apple released their first iPhone, they took an existing product (the smartphone) and made it different.  Along with a new design, they created an operating system that provided people with a unique user interface and on the back of this product was the iconic Apple logo. Apple features their logo on every product making it easy for consumers to associate the bitten apple logo with all of the positive experiences and connotations that come with it. Apple is consistent with both the quality of their products and the unique experience they offer to each individual consumer. To many Apple users, the experience they have with products is so unique that they become extremely loyal to the company. Alternatives are not an option to these loyal customers, which gives the company an edge in their industry. Although much of the branding for Apple has come from their differentiation in the experience a consumer has with their products, the consistency in the use of their logo acts as a flag for their consumers to proudly wave.

Product Branding

Not all companies can brand the same way that Apple has branded themselves. There are some companies that have products that largely vary in target audiences. Apple’s products appeal to a very large group of people, making the user experience very uniform among most product users. The buyer of an iPhone may also want an iPad. In other cases user experiences are purposely made to vary because the audience is very different. For example, a car company is not going to brand a minivan the way they brand their high performance sports car. This is simple because the feelings that consumers expect and want from the vehicles are completely different. A person looking for a new family van may desire most the feeling of safety and comfort, while the person looking for that high performance sports car is most interested in the feeling of adrenaline and excitement. Perhaps the company is dedicated to mostly make family oriented vehicles, but they also produce that one sports car; in that case it would be wise to brand the sports car differently from how the car company as a whole has been branded. Show below, you can see the front ends of two sports cars from different competitors. Although both cars are respectively very beautiful, well-designed performance vehicles, one has an element of branding that may have already allowed you to picture the entire car.

Mustang branding on a grille

The emblem on top comes from the front end of a Ford Mustang, while the bottom one comes from the front end of a Chevrolet Camaro.  Can you guess which has been branded better? In 1965 when the first year of Mustangs were produced, rather than being badged with the standard company badges the Mustang was badged with a symbol representing power, endurance, and speed. This symbol is still placed all over modern day Mustangs. Both consistency and repetition are crucial when creating a connection between a symbol and a customer. The Chevrolet Camaro has had various redesigns in their logo since the first year it was created, which made its brand a bit unclear over the years. Today, we will see Camaros badged with the same logos that you can find on any of Chevrolet’s vehicles, reducing the vehicles unique qualities. In comparison, Ford has taken a different approach in how they uniquely tailored their Mustang product branding. The logo is not only seen on the front and rear of the car, but it is also placed on the middle of the steering wheel to greet the driver as they enter the vehicle. Though it is a small difference, it is the small branding details that can make a difference when a person is looking to make a purchase. In this case, since both vehicles are similar in performance, it may just be the brand that may persuade a consumer to buy a particular car.  Building unique experiences that allow consumers to develop an emotional connection to your product or service is essential to establishing customer loyalty.

1
Feb

Shorter Name and a Better Logo

from Nathan Greenberg

Over the years, I have worked with many C-suite executives, directors, and other business leaders to shape, grow, and improve their branding. Often I tell them that they need to listen to outside opinions to better understand who they are and how their company is perceived. Why? Because business owners or managers -especially entrepreneurs- cannot view themselves objectively. Over the last couple of years, I have been listening to my fair share of outside opinions.

I became a shining example of “physician heal thyself”.

A Stubborn Executive

Old logoArkside Marketing officially began on February 4, 2010. Our eight year anniversary will be celebrated in three days. Earlier in 2017 I came to realize that we were suffering from brandmark confusion.

To the left, you see our original logo (in a vertical layout). People saw our logo our logo as an “M”. People saw purple and brown. In fact, I vaguely recall the original designer of the logo asking me if it was an “M”, but I pushed right passed that! “No, it’s an ‘A’ and an ‘M’. I’m so creative!” Instead of learning from a few years of this reaction, I took it as a challenge to explain that it was actually an “A” and an “M” and the company colors were blue and yellow/gold.  After 6 years, I asked our new Lead Designer to “clean up” our image with proper blue and yellow colors.

Before you ask: I have no explanation for why I did not try to solve the A/M confusion at the same time.

We also had a challenge with our name. It was clearly defined when we had a great employee named Mark. This was his cold calling introduction: “Hi. This is Mark, from Arkside Marketing.” Oy vey.

We suffered from Arkitis.

In 2017, something snapped. I heard yet one more person call our logo “the M”. That was it. The proverbial straw. It was time to change the logo. Only took me seven years to learn. But it also presented an opportunity to do something to our name that I had been thinking about for two years. It was time to shorten our company name.

The Process of Change

This was an opportunity to practice what I preached. There would be no “design (or death) by committee”, but I valued the array of insights available in my own team. From production to accounting, I knew each had an opinion that could help the process while simultaneously reinforcing our culture of inclusion. This may be my company, but I appreciate the support and wisdom of others to make us all more successful.

We began with a good assortment of VERY different directions. It allowed us to refine what we liked and eliminate the definite no’s. Quickly I realized that if we were going to shorten the name, it would be ideal to do the same to the logo. The style was unique, just badly executed by me. This also helps avoid any mass confusion about the company changing. We would still be the same great company, but with a modified logo and simpler name.

New Arkside logoWith that direction, we changed the logo to be a true “A” and maintain the colors. “Arkside Marketing” became “Arkside”. We aren’t dropping any part of our marketing services. To the contrary – we will have some expansion announcements this year! We just eliminated the obvious. There were now logo layouts not previously possible with two long words. You will be seeing those across various media as the new brand is rolled out.

The result is the shorter name and logo we unveil today.

What’s Changing at Arkside?

Just a shorter name and logo. At least when it comes to our brandmark. We are still the same awesome marketing resource you and many other companies have come to rely upon for the last eight years.

But there are other important changes coming this year. We look forward to bringing a new website online before Q2 with a more modern design and new capabilities such as a complete store of promotional products, custom apparel options, and even the ability to order print items such as business cards and banners.

We are also bringing new technology and processes to our in-house operations that will streamline customer service, order processing, and production.

Thank You

To all of you who have given your opinions, insights, and ideas, I thank you. Certainly to those friends and family who have supported my ventures and trusted me with your business, you have made the last eight years possible. You mean more to me than I can ever fully express. But I will always try.

Thankfulness has been part of this company and I take this moment to refresh that practice.

So “thank you”, and welcome to Arkside again.

1
Mar

How to Deal with Online Reviews

Reviews, both positive and negative, come with the territory of being a business and online reputation management. Some reviews are positive and say wonderful things about your business. Others are negative and detail customers frustrations about their experience. Regardless of whether a review is positive, negative, or somewhere in between, each and every review should be responded to in a timely manner. Many people we speak with want to know how to deal with online reviews. About 82% of American adults read reviews before they purchase something for the first time. That’s a lot of eyes looking at your reputation, so if you make sure your voice is present in the conversation you are able to help explain the negative reviews and encourage more positive ones.

Reviews as Part of Online Reputation Management

You have probably had a variety of experiences with online reviews. You may have received good ones, bad ones, or posted your own about business. They’re important. When it comes to handling ones posted about your business, there are best practices we recommend to obtain the best outcome. In most cases, you want to reply for a variety of reasons. There may be reasons to send a private message (when possible). In other circumstances it may be best to do both. Finally, the one everyone hopes for, just report the review as spam and watch it disappear. We’ll cover all of these scenarios below.

Why Respond To Positive Reviews

Did you know: 68% of reviews on Yelp are 4 or 5- star reviews? If your reviews mimic this trend, that’s 68% of your customer base that you are ignoring if you only take the time to respond to the negative reviews. Another benefit of responding to positive reviews, is that it helps build a better relationship with your customers, especially your “brandvocates”. If you receive a great review from Tami -a single mom, who you made feel at ease when you fixed her refrigerator- and take the time to respond to her review, you have continued your relationship by showing that you care about her opinion. People looking for refrigerator repair will see that Tami felt at ease with your service and will be more likely to hire you. Instead of just telling five of her friends that you did a great job, Tami just told thousands of other people about her experience which results in a huge group of potential new customers. Although Yelp doesn’t allow you to respond publicly and send a private message, there are times when it is good to do both. Do so on those sites that allow it. If a customer has been extremely loyal for a long period of time or referred significant business, we recommend doing both. In most cases, a public reply is sufficient.

Why Respond To Negative Reviews

Responding to negative reviews also benefits your business. By responding to negative reviews, you are proving that you hear your customers’ complaints, care about their experience or concerns and will do something to make it right. You may respond to Mark, who visited your restaurant and felt his hamburger was too dry. By replying to Mark, you acknowledge that you hear his complaint and can offer to comp his next meal or let him know you’ll speak with the staff so Mark will be more willing to give you another opportunity to earn his loyalty. By showing those reading your reviews that you are willing to make a situation right, you are demonstrating a commitment to customer service and great experiences.

In some cases you may not need to make amends. Often, the customer just wants to be heard and know that a problem is being addressed. An important guideline is to not take reviews personally. The public doesn’t want to see you get upset because they will think your next outburst could be directed at them.

On those sites that allow you to post a comment and send a message, doing both may be a bad idea. Ideally, you want them off the review site. Continuing your disagreement on the site is counterproductive. Be wary of the situation and act according to how you feel they will be most likely to react.

How Can I Remove Fake Reviews?

Sometimes businesses receive reviews they don’t deserve. This is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to how to deal with online reviews. For our clients, we have seen reviews posted by their competitors, customers who never actually had work done, and outlandish requests that are impossible to fulfill. These are some of the few examples of reviews that can potentially be removed. They are fraudulent in one way or another. Understand that all review sites are very reluctant to remove reviews. They aren’t interested in a factual dispute between two parties. This is true even when facts are not in dispute. You don’t have to make amends like you did with Mark, but make sure they feel heard. People are reading their review and do not understand the circumstances surrounding it. In some cases, you can explain the situation through your response but with others it allows you to get your voice into the conversation and just acknowledge that you understand how the reviewer feels.

Conclusion        

While replying to reviews may take a few minutes out of your day, it can vastly improve your appearance to potential customers. By taking the time to reply to reviews in a timely manner you show you care about your customers, value their opinions and concerns, and are willing to stand behind your business or product. Want to learn how we can help you with online reputation management? Contact us today!

12
Jul

Preserving Your Brand Integrity

Few things are as important to your business as your brand identity. The branding of your company is about your logo, your appearance, your service, your products, and your reputation. It is how the world perceives you. Your ad agency should understand and appreciate the importance of brand development.

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” –Jeff Bezos

Your Logo Is Part of Your Brand

The development and protection of a brand is critical. A critical element of that brand representation is your logo. It is the most commonly seen visual representation of your company. Hundreds of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars go into the promotion of a logo.  When we come across instances like the ones below, we wonder if the agency truly understands the value of their client’s brand:

Chevy Equinox with a backward Chevy bowtie

Chevy Impala with a backward Chevy bowtie and Impala

Chevrolet Logo Backward - Malibu

Chevrolet Logo Backward - Traverse

These examples were taken from the home page rotator of a US regional Chevrolet dealer association website. They represent 57% of the images in that rotator. That makes such errors difficult to excuse as isolated incidents or something not reviewed by multiple employees (graphic designer, project manager, account executive) and the client.

Client and Agency Share Brand Integrity Responsibility

We are the first to admit that we aren’t perfect. No agency or person is perfect. But errors like this speak to a larger problem of disregarding the fundamentals of brand integrity. Imagine the IBM logo being printed backwards on a company brochure. Or Google having a typo and showing up “Gogle”. It wouldn’t make it off the printing press.

Protect your logo.
Protect your reputation.

Demand an agency that does the same.

Arkside Marketing is a full-service ad agency, specializing in regulated enterprises such as law firms, car dealerships, hospitals, and financial institutions. If you would like a complimentary analysis of your current marketing efforts or brand identity, please contact us today to schedule an appointment. We can come to your office or conduct the analysis online via Skype, Google Hangouts, or Join.me.

19
Mar

The Value of Marketing an Anniversary

Is it worth marketing an anniversary? As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

We, the awesome Arkside Marketing team, are celebrating our five year anniversary in 2015. Each anniversary of your company’s beginning represents the end of a chapter and the simultaneous start of another. But that is a generalized observation with arguable meaning. Of strategic importance is the marketing value of that anniversary and how it can be used with employees, vendors, investors, customers, and potential customers.

What is an Important Business Anniversary?

Let’s jump into a couple you may not have considered:

1 year – Your first year in business. You made it!
5 years – Most businesses fail in their first five years. If you’re still around, its time celebrate.

Always commemorate the traditional increments of 10 (10, 20, 30, etc.) and half-10 (15, 25, 35, etc.) anniversaries.

Also consider numbers that are relevant to your particular industry or company:

  • Investment companies could celebrate their 11th birthday since the New York Stock Exchange is located at 11 Wall Street in New York City
  • Law firms can celebrate 1 year (Supreme Court is at 1 First Street, Washington D.C.) or 9 years (9 Supreme Court Justices)
  • Casinos and any entity with the word “lucky” in its name should celebrate 7 years
  • Masonic lodge may want to celebrate their 3rd and 33rd anniversary
  • Auto shop could do something with their 5(years)W30 anniversary
  • Dentists should celebrate their 32nd anniversary (number of teeth in the adult mouth)
  • Baseball teams have 9 players on the field
  • IT companies can have fun with their 1-0 (10) year anniversary as a nod to binary code
  • If a company is Christian-focused, or there is a triangle in your logo, or perhaps you have three core elements to your mission statement, the number three gives you an anniversary to promote.

How to Excite Your Customers About Your Anniversary

These milestones give you an opportunity to reconnect with your customers using a completely non-sales touch point. You are suddenly empowered with a new way to stay top-of-mind, offer a unique incentives, and provide an experience unmatched by your competition. (Assuming they aren’t celebrating an anniversary at the same time).

The key is to share your excitement with your customers. Tell your story. Your employees may be your best source of material, especially if they have been around for multiple milestones or even from Day 1. Share trivia and experiences from the company’s history: how did the company begin? What was the last milestone like? How has your city or cities changed over time? Do you offer new products or services?

Here are ways for getting customers excited about an anniversary:

  • Create a special version of your logo just for the occasion
    • Add the logo to all sales or other collateral throughout the year
  • Host an open house or other party event to celebrate. All employes, family, clients, vendors, local dignitaries, and partners should be invited.
  • Create a new page on your website with the stories and trivia mentioned above
    • Include the new logo
    • Share the page across social media
    • Make sure it is linked in your main navigation
    • Add a link to email signatures
  • Create sales incentives such as “10% off” (for a 10 year anniversary) or “save $20” (for a 20 year anniversary) or “first 50 customers” (for a 50 year anniversary). Be creative and think of your customer first. What would have value to them?
  • Invest in specialty promotional products for the occasion
  • Share company trivia on a regular basis on your social media channels
  • Create contests or giveaways centered around the anniversary in which your employees can participate

These are just a few ideas to help cultivate ideas for your particular situation. Your customers will enjoy knowing about your success, longevity, and whatever may be in store for them. Most importantly, each of these steps humanize a business. The management, the staff, and the brand as a whole become more “relateable”. In other words: great marketing. Few things can help a company grow like a positive relationship with a customer. They turn into referrals. Those referrals will be around for the next anniversary and so will your business.

 

19
Aug

#WisdomWednesday – Aug. 19, 2014

This is the first of our new weekly #WisdomWednesday feature. We will share an important tip, strategy, or other sage-like wisdom each week. It is always our goal to give you actionable marketing or advertising advice that can help improve your business. If you would like to suggest content for this feature, feel free to email us at www.arksidemarketing.com/contact-us

For this week, we want to draw attention to the need for refocusing priorities. It can be easy to get lost in the minutiae of developing or redesigning a business logo. The right font, the right colors, the right alignment, the right whatever. All important. But they pale in comparison to the importance of staying focused on your customer. The right logo won’t mean anything if your customers leave due to a lack of attention.

Pick a font, pick a color, pick an alignment, pick something…then get back to work.

25
Mar

How to Make Your Law Firm Stand Out

You have years of experience.

You have a nice office.

You have a strong track record of success.

You will fight for your client.

What makes you different?

As you market your firm, you need to communicate what makes you different from your many competitors. Keep in mind that before someone chooses to hire you, they have to choose to contact you. Your marketing should give them reasons to do that. Focus on your competitive advantages, then tell the world why you stand out.

FINDING YOUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

We always remind our clients that they will never know why someone didn’t contact them. Maybe they didn’t like the website. Maybe the phone number in your radio ad was too complicated. Maybe they saw negative reviews on Avvo. Whatever the reason, the lost client has no reason to take time and explain how you lost their business.

Instead, tell them exactly why they should contact you. Here are some potential advantages you should broadcast to the world:

  • Graduated with special honors from law school
  • Recognition or citation from a governing/oversight body
  • 5-star rating online
  • Team of specialist attorneys
  • Large verdict in a previous case
  • Long list of satisfied client testimonials
  • Decades or centuries of firm existence

Whatever makes you stand out from the competition is a necessity to communicate. Never assume people know about you. The items above are reasons to contact you. They matter for very important and material reasons because they can help win a case. Many of them also speak to having great customer service. Firms that treat clients badly aren’t around for very long. The level of service you provide will reinforce the brand you presented in your marketing.

Attorney Level of Service

Communicating your competitive advantage will lead to phone calls and emails. Now the hard work begins: meeting expectations. Your level of service is another way to stand out from your competitors. Beyond capturing new clients, it can help you retain current clients.

Analyze the client experience with your firm:

  • How are clients greeted (in person and on the phone)?
  • Are phone calls kept on hold for more than 10 seconds?
  • Do you serve tea and coffee at your office?
  • Are letters, calls, and emails responded to promptly?
  • Does your collateral (letterhead, brochures, business cards, etc.) easily identify ways to contact you?
  • Do you send “Thank You” cards or other tokens of appreciation to new clients?

Summary

Don’t lose business because it was taken for granted. Clients always have a choice for their next attorney. Work with your ad agency to ensure that you are communicating your competitive advantages, and finding ways to make your law firm stand out. Once you have earned a call, put the time and effort into retaining more business and earning testimonials that can be used in future marketing. Small investments now can lead to large returns in the future.

 

Arkside Marketing is a full-service ad agency, specializing in heavily regulated industries such as law firms, car dealerships, and hospitals. If you would like a complimentary analysis of your current marketing efforts, please contact us today to schedule an appointment. We can come to your office or conduct the analysis online via Skype, Google Hangouts, or Join.me.

12
Jul

Advertising With God

%
Americans who believe in a god
%
Say funny ads are more memorable
%
Millennials without religious affiliation

According to a 2011 Gallup survey, 92% of Americans believe in God. Reaching 9 out of 10 in any group is an accomplishment in demographic targeting. In this case, however, it isn’t the same demographic because they don’t believe in the same god, or gods. And it is those beliefs that make things tricky in advertising.

Due to an inability to secure licensing agreements, likeness waivers, and modeling releases, it is fair to assume that using God, gods, miscellaneous deities, names of religions, religious adherents, or religious artifacts carries a certain amount of risk for any brand. Even churches (and other denominational houses of worship) are not exempt from the pitfalls of using holiness as part of marketing efforts. Although the risks are ever-present, there are also benefits to appropriately invoking a holy reference in organizational or individual advertising. We are going to examine those risks, rewards, and a few guidelines on how and when to use God in advertising.

RISKS OF USING GOD IN MARKETING

  • Offend – They may not believe in the same god. They may believe god looks different from the one in your magazine ad. They may not believe in god at all. While it is true that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, it is generally bad advertising strategy to intentionally offend customers.
    In one interesting example of controversy caused by a lack of god, Samuel Adams was recently criticized for their omission of god from a recent July 4th television commercial.
  • Disenfranchise – A step up from offensive would be disenfranchisement. Not everyone is passionate about religion, even if they believe in one. But if your organization appears to have a highly pious or evangelical mentality, that could encourage customers to shop somewhere they feel more comfortable.
  • Limited audience/exclusion – Substantive research will help you understand your audience. And before implementing something as controversial as religion, make sure you know that it will reach most of your audience. If it may or will not, you risk drastically limiting the reach and effect of your advertising.
  • Holier than thou – As we’ll get to later, there are opportunities to tastefully and appropriately advertise with god. One risk of inappropriately using god (and not knowing your audience) is to portray an image of being more knowledgeable or important than your customer. Customers are accepting of education, not being treated like a child.
  • Improper use – The best example of an improper use would be claiming to be chosen by god. A printer of bibles should not advertise themselves as God’s preferred printer. There is no way to substantiate the claim and it isn’t inherently important to a successful ad campaign.
  • No relation to company/product – A logical connection is necessary for any meaningful use of god in advertising. A company making fertilizer should not use a slogan such as “God would want you to care for his earth with Acme Fertilizer.” In industry parlance, this is called a “stretch”.

BENEFITS OF USING GOD IN MARKETING

  • Connect with audience – A receptive audience is easiest to connect with when using a message they can understand. With an appropriate inclusion of god in marketing, a stronger connection can be made with a particular demographic.
  • Tacit endorsement – Opposite an improper use is an organic inclusion that implies a tacit endorsement. The dating website ChristianMingle.com uses the slogan, “Find God’s Match for You.” Aside from the obvious implication that your heavenly soul mate resides only on their site, it gives a tacit endorsement from God to find love on the holy world wide web.

Meet Christian Singles banner ad

  • Humor – It doesn’t have to be completely serious. When advertising with god, a bit of levity can make an ad more memorable and easy to connect. Taste and respect are key elements in this approach but it can be done well and help achieve greater success in a campaign.

With all of these considerations and potential outcomes, the most critical facet is your knowledge of your audience. Make sure you have an understanding of their tolerance as well as belief. If the inclusion of god isn’t absolutely necessary in your creative, it may be best to leave god to the clergy.

 

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