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13 Rules for More Effective Advertising

Here are 13 Rules for More Effective Advertising from McKee Wallwork Henderson, an ad agency. Thanks to Brand Autopsy for the link and for this summary:

(1) I will avoid exclamation points. Use an exclamation point at the end of an exclamation like Wow! or Ouch! Don’t use it to gin up artificial excitement (Sale!). Exclamation points are the grammatical equivalent of shouting, and shouting causes headaches.

(2) I won’t say “make my logo bigger.” You like your logo. You want to see your logo. But to your prospects your logo is not yet relevant. If they notice it too soon they may turn the page. Your logo should be the tasteful last point of a well-crafted appeal.

(3) I won’t spam. And remember that what constitutes spam is in the eye of the beholder.

(4) I will give my advertising a chance to work. The average campaign’s life in the marketplace is just over two years. By the time your advertising launches you may already be tired of it, but resist the urge to change. Take inspiration from Absolut, which launched it’s now-famous “Bottle” campaign over two decades ago.

(5) I won’t be all things to all people. Bob Lutz, the visionary behind the Dodge Viper, Ram pickup and PT Cruiser, led Chrysler to record profits in the ‘90s by designing vehicles that were the first choice of a handful of buyers instead of the second or third choice of everyone. He knew that the more broadly you try to spread your appeal the less appeal you have to go around.

(6) I won’t project my media habits on my customers. You may hate country music or subscribe to obscure journals, but chances are your customers have different media habits. Just because you never see your ads doesn’t mean that they don’t.

(7) I will be more open to taking risks. If you want to stand out you have to do something different. But doing something different is, by definition, risky. Don’t be afraid to take a calculated risk with your advertising; it’s your only chance to generate a big return.

(8) I will not discount. Discounting is dangerous because it’s easy and it works. But discounting is an addiction-once you start it’s hard to stop and you need to continually go deeper to get the same results. If you feel the need to discount, there are probably larger problems with your brand or product that you need to address.

(9) I won’t use the word “quality.” Quality is a great word, but its usefulness in advertising has been ruined by too many abuses. If your product or service is of truly higher quality there are plenty of other ways to say it.

(10) I will not promote my competition. Whether you make comparative claims or spoof a competitor’s ads all you’re doing is giving them recognition. Be who you are and let your prospects make the comparison themselves. If you’re better, they’ll know.

(11) I will have the courage to overrule the research. Research said that the Sony Walkman wouldn’t work. Research said that New Coke would. Nike and Volkswagen don’t pre-test their ads. General Motors does. Enough said.

(12) I will not let lawyers write my copy. No offense to attorneys, but their job is to help you avoid risk. See #7.

(13) I will not pollute. Bill Bernbach, the father of the ‘60s-era creative revolution in advertising, said, “All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize society or we can help lift it to a higher level.” There is perhaps no better thought with which to begin the new year. Be it resolved.

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