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Get Inside Your Customer's Mind: Tips for Creating Compelling Advertising

John Caples was a true legend in the use of direct response advertising, which seeks to elicit an immediate response from the consumer, such as ordering a product or requesting more information.


He believed that effective advertising should focus on the needs and desires of the consumer, rather than simply touting the features of a product.


Caples is perhaps best known for his classic ad for the U.S. School of Music, which featured the headline:


"They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano...But When I Started to Play!"



The ad was widely successful and is often cited as an example of the power of a compelling headline.


In his book, "Tested Advertising Methods," Caples outlined 12 ways to find advertising ideas that have stood the test of time and are still relevant in today's advertising landscape.


I HAVE USED THESE METHODS IN MANY WAYS, AND THE RESULTS ARE FANTASTIC! I GUARANTEE YOU THAT IF YOU USE THEM PROPERLY, THEY WILL WORK WONDERS FOR YOU TOO.


1 Study the Product: The first step in finding advertising ideas is to thoroughly understand the product or service you are advertising. This will help you identify the unique selling proposition (USP) of the product.


FOCUS ON your customer's PAIN POINTS, and ask: HAVE YOU HAD ANY PROBLEMS WITH THIS PRODUCT/SERVICE ? The answer is the key for writing your ads.


Example: Let's say you have an accounting firm and new customer knocks at your door asking for your services.

During the first five minutes conversation, you ask your potential customer the following question: Have you worked with an accountant before? Pause and listen.... then ask: what exactly did not work for you?

Answer: He never answered my phone calls when I needed him the most.

BINGO!

Now you now that if you can guarantee 24/7 disposition to attend his or her needs, you may have a happy customer for a modest monthly or yearly fee plus whatever additional benefit you may offer.


2 Study Your Competition: Analyze the advertising messages of your competitors to see what they are doing and what you can do differently.


3 Study Your Target Audience: Understand the needs, desires, and motivations of your target audience. This will help you create advertising that resonates with them.


FOCUS ON your CLAIMS. What are your strengths? It does not have to be a lot. Write down 3 of them, start with a 350 words document per claim. Then reduce each claim into a 40 characters headline. Meditate about them, dream with them, eat with them, put them into your bathroom mirror, make them your mantra.


"IF YOU ARE NO SELLING SOMETHING UNIQUE, YOU ARE SELING AS MUCH FOR YOUR COMPETITORS AS YOU ARE SELLING FOR YOURSELF"


4 Study Advertising Media: Understand the strengths and weaknesses of different advertising media, such as print, TV, and social media.


Start incrementality tests with social media and measure what may work for you before launching a big campaign. This will SAVE YOU MONEY.


5 Brainstorming: Generate as many ideas as possible by brainstorming with a team or by yourself.


Write down all your ideas no matter how stupid you think they are. NOBODY IS AN EXPERT always test, measure, and optimise. This is the golden standard for successful advertising.


6 Mind Mapping: Create a visual diagram to organize your ideas and find connections between them.


7 Free Association: Write down words and phrases that come to mind when you think about the product or service you are advertising.


Free association is a technique used in advertising to generate ideas by writing down words or phrases that come to mind when thinking about a particular product or service. Here are a few examples of free association in advertising:

  1. Nike's "Just Do It" campaign: Nike used free association in its "Just Do It" campaign by associating the phrase with the brand's athletic apparel and footwear. The slogan emphasized the idea of taking action and pushing yourself to achieve your goals.

  2. Wendy's "Where's the Beef?" campaign: Wendy's used free association in its "Where's the Beef?" campaign by associating the phrase with its fast food burgers. The campaign featured an elderly woman questioning the size of a competitor's burger and asking "Where's the beef?" to emphasize the superior quality of Wendy's burgers.

  3. M&M's "Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand" campaign: M&M's used free association in its "Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand" campaign by associating the phrase with the candy's unique selling proposition. The campaign emphasized the idea that M&M's chocolate candies were less messy and more convenient to eat than other candies.

  4. FedEx's "The World on Time" campaign: FedEx used free association in its "The World on Time" campaign by associating the phrase with the brand's global delivery services. The campaign emphasized the idea that FedEx could deliver packages anywhere in the world, on time and with reliable service.

  5. American Express' "Don't Leave Home Without It" campaign: American Express used free association in its "Don't Leave Home Without It" campaign by associating the phrase with its credit card services. The campaign emphasized the idea that an American Express card was essential for travelers, providing a secure and convenient way to make purchases while abroad.

1987 - DAN WIEDEN + KENNEDY - JUST DO IT!


8 Forced Relationships: Connect seemingly unrelated ideas to create something new and unexpected.


Pay attention! Forced relationships are connections between seemingly unrelated ideas that can help to create something new and unexpected in advertising. Here are a few examples of forced relationship ads:

  1. Nike's "Find Your Greatness" campaign: Nike used a forced relationship in its "Find Your Greatness" campaign by connecting the idea of greatness with the concept of everyday people. The ad featured a young boy jogging through his hometown, highlighting the idea that anyone can achieve greatness, not just elite athletes.

  2. McDonald's "I'm Lovin' It" campaign: McDonald's used a forced relationship in its "I'm Lovin' It" campaign by connecting the concept of love with fast food. The campaign featured catchy music and slogans that emphasized the joy and happiness that come from enjoying a McDonald's meal.

  3. Apple's "Think Different" campaign: Apple used a forced relationship in its "Think Different" campaign by connecting the idea of innovation with historical figures such as Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi. The campaign encouraged viewers to think outside the box and embrace creativity and innovation.

  4. Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign: Old Spice used a forced relationship in its "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign by connecting the idea of masculinity with humor and absurdity. The campaign featured a shirtless man delivering humorous one-liners while promoting Old Spice products.

  5. Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World" campaign: Dos Equis used a forced relationship in its "Most Interesting Man in the World" campaign by connecting the idea of beer with sophistication and adventure. The campaign featured a fictional character who was portrayed as the epitome of worldly sophistication and adventure, all while enjoying a Dos Equis beer.

Forced relationships are a powerful tool in advertising, as they can help to create something new and unexpected that stands out from the competition. By connecting seemingly unrelated ideas, businesses can create advertising campaigns that effectively communicate their message and resonate with their target audience.



9 Lateral Thinking: Approach the problem from a different angle and challenge assumptions.


Lateral thinking is a technique for solving problems by approaching them from a different angle and challenging assumptions. Here are a few examples of lateral thinking in advertising:

  1. Poo-Pourri's "Girls Don't Poop" ad: Poo-Pourri used lateral thinking in its "Girls Don't Poop" ad by challenging the assumption that women don't poop. The ad featured a woman in a bathroom, talking openly and humorously about the fact that everyone poops, and promoting Poo-Pourri's bathroom spray as a solution to eliminate embarrassing odors.

  2. Heinz's "Pass the Heinz" ad: Heinz used lateral thinking in its "Pass the Heinz" ad by approaching the problem of promoting ketchup from a different angle. Instead of showing the product, the ad featured photos of food without ketchup, with the simple phrase "Pass the Heinz." The ad relied on viewers to make the connection between the food and the need for ketchup, resulting in a memorable and effective campaign.

  3. Volkswagen's "Think Small" ad: Volkswagen used lateral thinking in its "Think Small" ad by challenging the assumption that bigger is always better. The ad featured a small Volkswagen Beetle, with the headline "Think Small" and body copy that emphasized the benefits of a compact car, such as easier parking and better gas mileage.

  4. Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign: Dove used lateral thinking in its "Real Beauty" campaign by challenging the traditional standards of beauty. The campaign featured real women of all shapes, sizes, and ages, instead of models, to promote Dove's beauty products. The campaign encouraged viewers to redefine their own standards of beauty, resulting in a powerful and impactful campaign.



10 Analogies: Use metaphors and analogies to explain the benefits of the product or service.


Analogies are comparisons between two things that are seemingly unrelated, but share commonalities that can help to explain a concept or idea. Here are a few examples of analogies in advertising:

  1. Verizon's "Can You Hear Me Now?" campaign: Verizon used an analogy in its "Can You Hear Me Now?" campaign to compare the clarity of its cell phone service to the clarity of a bell. The campaign featured a spokesperson traveling across the country, asking the question "Can you hear me now?" to emphasize the superior quality of Verizon's network.

  2. Apple's "Mac vs. PC" campaign: Apple used analogies in its "Mac vs. PC" campaign to compare the user experience of its products to that of a PC. The campaign featured two characters, one representing a Mac and one representing a PC, discussing the benefits of each platform. The analogy helped to position Apple's products as more user-friendly and intuitive than PCs.

  3. Allstate's "Mayhem" campaign: Allstate used an analogy in its "Mayhem" campaign to compare the potential dangers of everyday life to a car accident. The campaign featured a character named "Mayhem," who personified the unpredictable and unexpected events that can happen in life. The analogy helped to position Allstate as a reliable and trustworthy insurance provider.

  4. Energizer's "Energizer Bunny" campaign: Energizer used an analogy in its "Energizer Bunny" campaign to compare the long-lasting power of its batteries to that of a bunny. The campaign featured a pink bunny that kept going and going, emphasizing the longevity of Energizer's batteries.

  5. State Farm's "Like a Good Neighbor" campaign: State Farm used an analogy in its "Like a Good Neighbor" campaign to compare the reliability and trustworthiness of its insurance agents to that of a good neighbor. The campaign featured a jingle that emphasized the importance of having a good neighbor, positioning State Farm as a dependable and helpful partner.



11 Word Association: Write down words and phrases that are associated with the product or service and use them to create advertising ideas.


Word association is a technique used in advertising to generate ideas by writing down words or phrases that are associated with a particular product or service. Here are a few examples of word association in advertising:

  1. Subway's "Eat Fresh" campaign: Subway used word association in its "Eat Fresh" campaign by associating the phrase with the brand's fresh, healthy ingredients. The campaign emphasized the idea that Subway's sandwiches were a healthier alternative to fast food, appealing to health-conscious consumers.

  2. De Beers' "A Diamond is Forever" campaign: De Beers used word association in its "A Diamond is Forever" campaign by associating the idea of forever with the emotional value of a diamond. The campaign emphasized the idea that a diamond was a symbol of everlasting love and commitment, positioning De Beers as the premier diamond retailer.

  3. Coca-Cola's "Taste the Feeling" campaign: Coca-Cola used word association in its "Taste the Feeling" campaign by associating the idea of feelings with the brand's refreshing taste. The campaign emphasized the idea that drinking Coca-Cola was an emotional experience, creating a connection between the brand and its consumers.

  4. BMW's "The Ultimate Driving Machine" campaign: BMW used word association in its "The Ultimate Driving Machine" campaign by associating the idea of ultimate with the brand's high-performance vehicles. The campaign emphasized the idea that driving a BMW was an exhilarating experience, appealing to car enthusiasts.

  5. L'Oreal's "Because You're Worth It" campaign: L'Oreal used word association in its "Because You're Worth It" campaign by associating the idea of worth with the emotional value of beauty. The campaign emphasized the idea that using L'Oreal's beauty products was an act of self-care and self-worth, appealing to women who prioritize their appearance.


12 Personal Experiences: Draw from your own personal experiences to create advertising that is relatable and authentic.


  1. P&G's "Thank You, Mom" campaign: P&G used personal experience in its "Thank You, Mom" campaign by featuring Olympic athletes and their mothers, highlighting the importance of a mother's love and support in achieving success. The campaign drew from the personal experiences of Olympic athletes and their mothers, creating a powerful and emotional message.

  2. Subaru's "Love" campaign: Subaru used personal experience in its "Love" campaign by featuring real-life stories of Subaru owners and their pets, emphasizing the brand's commitment to family and adventure. The campaign drew from the personal experiences of Subaru owners, creating a heartfelt and emotional message.



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