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Communication Tools: Advertising

Although it may be the first thing we think of, advertising is much more than just getting people to buy a product. When used successfully, advertisements can:

  • Raise awareness of your brand
  • Drive potential customers to your business
  • Promote sales for new and existing products
  • Introduce a new product or service to the market
  • Differentiate your brand from a competitor

One of the keys to a successful advertisement is to know who you are trying to reach. There is rarely a single source that will allow you to reach everyone, so identifying where your audience is located is a great place to start.

Digital Advertising

More than half the world's population is on the internet, making digital advertising a popular and advantageous route. One of digital advertising's most useful features is that it can be curated to reach people with specific interests, often with much greater accuracy than other methods of advertising. Digital ads also collect a variety of metrics, which makes the ads easy to track and analyze. There are a variety of digital advertising options available, including paid search advertising, banner and display ads, and social media advertising.

Paid search advertising is based on keywords used on search engines, such as Google. Taking out an ad involves bidding on specific keywords and writing ad copy to engage the reader. When the keywords are used in a search, your ad displays on the page above the organic search results, allowing your brand to be the first thing the user sees on the page. All main search engines have the capability to run paid search advertising.

Banner ads are horizontal advertisements that appear at the top, bottom, or sides of a webpage. They are an extension of search ads and often follow a similar set up. However, banner ads are generally less text-based and instead catch a viewer's eye with images and graphics.

Each social media platform has its own unique approach to paid advertising, but most follow the same general concept – a brand creates a post and pays to have it appear on user's feeds and home pages. You can choose to create a unique ad specifically for the campaign or "boost" an existing post.

Print Advertising

Print advertising, as the name implies, refers to materials that are physically printed. This can include newspaper and magazine ads, flyers, postcards, and bulletins. In small rural communities, taking out an ad in a local newspaper can be an effective option. However, printed advertisements tend to be more expensive than digital ads and can make it difficult to collect metrics.

Local newspapers may also offer digital advertising to reach readers who subscribe to a digital newspaper format. If your brand is interested in advertising in your community paper, be sure to consider all available options to choose which one aligns best with your goals.

Other Forms of Ads

Television, radio, and billboards are other media that you could choose to advertise on. Each of these formats have their advantages and disadvantages. Television ads can have a wide reach and create a unique viewing experience for the target audience but are expensive and can easily be avoided. Radio advertising can be effective, especially for local and regional areas, and is generally less expensive than television ads. However, much like television, radio ads are easily avoidable and can be difficult to target towards specific populations. Billboards are usually only used for brand awareness campaigns due to the limited information that can be included.

Advertising Best Practices

  • Appeal to emotions
  • Create positive associations
  • Establish a bandwagon effect
  • Focus on benefits over features
  • Leverage storytelling

For More Information

The Ultimate Guide to Advertising in 2023 offers examples and more information on advertising techniques.