Our use of the word is confined to ‘paid for’ media space. In business-to-business communication this is mainly the trade press and portal web sites, but advertising media also embraces radio, cinema, television, bus sides and bill boards. A rather lengthy and convoluted definition of advertising is "the persuasive force that utilises mass communications to make changes in customer attitudes, behaviour and actions towards products and services in a direction favourable to the advertiser."
Advertising is cost effective in reaching large groups of customers and potential customers with a shared defined profile, hence the proliferation of special interest and industry specific magazines that can deliver an audience relevant to the needs of the advertiser. Media selection must therefore seek to match your target audience and readership profiles. Advertising’s key aims are to progress the target audience through a series of stages:-
- creating awareness of the product
- turning previous unawareness of the product, into awareness
- establishing a comprehension of the proposition and the benefits it offers
- a conviction that the product is both relevant and of benefit
- finally a ‘call to action’ to convert the prospect into a potential customer.
As individuals we are subjected to hundreds of advertising messages each day, so to arrest attention the advertisement has to stand out from the others. This may be by use of compelling images, headlines or a combination of both, that stops the browser just long enough to take in the proposition. The fly fishing analogy has been used to explain the process of first being seen and attracting attention, then swiftly driving the point home. Once ‘hooked’ a few telling words must explain the benefits of the proposition succinctly, then offer a ‘call to action’ where the prospect can find more detail. Today typically a web site or QR code and the ‘call to action’ could be incentivised by the promise of a useful or attractive offer to enhance response rates.
Advertising is a key marketing tool, to raise awareness, build brand recognition and communicate a simple or top-level message, but needs repetition to ensure that message is seen and acted upon. Other communication means such as PR and direct marketing will be called into play for a fully integrated campaign.