Think of an ad like a person assigned to a job. If the person is going to do their job well, they have to know their goals, they have to be motivated to achieve them, and they need to know the rules that they’re operating within in order to get it done.
No, an ad isn’t actually a person. It just helps to make your thinking about it less abstract by anthropomorphizing it a little.
When an ad is poorly constructed, it’s often because its goals are poorly defined. When you try to have an ad achieve too much in the space that it’s been given, the results will be disappointing.
If you start with a primary goal, you can check each component of the ad against whether or not it serves this goal. You can ask yourself questions like:
- Have we provided enough resources for this ad to achieve its intended goal?
- Is the goal clear to someone who may have never seen one of our ads before and is unfamiliar with our company?
- Does the creative direction of the ad support the business goal?
- Do we make it easy for the person seeing the ad to act on it in a way that supports its goals?
- Is the ad appearing in a context that increases its chances of achieving its goals?
An ad is supposed to do a job that a salesperson would otherwise need to do. In many cases, an ad is just a sales pitch in writing, in video, in pictures, or in audio, delivered by a salesperson at scale. It helps to think about it in these terms, because often the sales goals can become lost in discussions about creative matters.
If your ad is the equivalent of a sales rep, what will you tell that rep to do?
This process will often result in more comprehensible advertising. Just attempting to build positive affinity for an arbitrary brand name without directing that affinity towards a better-defined business goal is usually not sufficient to gain a market advantage.
People who view the ad need to be able to sort your company into a trusted provider for a solution to a particular set of needs that they have. Whether that’s lawn care, dentistry, or providing contractors for some obscure technology, your ads need to sell something besides vague positive feelings about your logo.
Coca-Cola can get away with that sort of method because Coca-Cola has its products in almost every store that sells food in over a hundred countries worldwide. And even they have more sophisticated supporting campaigns that you’re probably not aware of. Unless your company has that sort of universal presence, you need to design your ads with selling efficiency at the top of your mind.