November 5, 2018
Appealing to people who read the fine print, and those who don't
As an old Marketing guy, I've always enjoyed advertising. I majored in Graphic Design in college, and minored in Advertising, which means that I learned to design for visual appeal, and I also learned the rest of the story, how marketing works, what demographics are, that sort of thing. I have much preferred the graphic design side of the business, but that doesn't mean that I've ignored the advertising side. And since this is my world, I know that most people really do want to make informed choices, will read the fine print, will research products, will pay attention to information. Of course there are people who make split decisions based on precious little information, and advertisers have to appeal to them, too. And if you're in the second category, I can tell by what you say, and you are easily fooled, cheated, and bamboozled. But luckily, you're rare.
My favorite advertising man was David Ogilvy, and my favorite quote from him was "the more you tell, the more you sell." He believed in giving customers a lot of information. And really, if you want to sell something, especially something expensive, you have to give people information. A catchy jingle and a pretty girl really aren't enough for the vast majority of people.
Of course the "judge a book by its cover people" are still there. They make snap judgements about everything, whether someone is trustworthy based on the shape of their eyes, whether a product is any good based on a random thing they may have heard, even if a politician is worth voting for based on how he, or she, looks in a suit. These people have always been around, and even though they're in the minority, they still count. If you're going to design an ad that simply appeals to people who love to do a lot of research, it's gonna look pretty boring. The idea, then is to do both, and that's what great graphic design tries to do.
It's all about levels. Attention has to be caught, of course, or no one will look at it. That's where the attractive headline, and image, comes in. Then it steps down to allow people to continue to learn about the product or service. If it's simply a headline and image, it really won't sell much. Most people will go off and seek more information. Nowadays people Google stuff. I suppose you could show a flashy photo of a car and a pretty girl, but most people will go find out the gas mileage, or how much cargo the vehicle will hold, before they buy something. Some people will watch videos, some will talk to other people, but make no mistake, people want information before they buy.
If you yourself are in the business of marketing, I advise you to not sell yourself short. Of course you should have good-looking graphics, but you need to take the time to tell people about your product or service. Create a design that will allow people to step down, beginning with assuming the sale. Tell them briefly what your product or service is, what it costs, where they can get it. For some people that will be enough. Then take a deep breath, and keep talking. Give reasons why people should buy your product or service, give testimonials, talk about the track record of your business. Then step down again, and have more information handy. Yes, some people will ignore that stuff, but you'd be surprised how many people will pay attention, and read it, or listen to it all. If you think people are diffident about it, think again.
Image at the top of this post: the 1959 ad for Rolls-Royce by David Ogilvy. He set the standard, nothing has changed.
Posted by Brad Hall