Creating Advertising That Sells


Your advertising should not be simply a source of entertainment or an expression of art, but a medium of information as well.  Advertising should be only interesting enough to sell the product.
Advertising has undergone several major changes over the years.  For example, the internet has become a viable medium for selling products.  However, one thing has not changed:  consumers still buy those products whose advertising promises glowing results:  value for the money, beauty, long life, nutrition, relief from suffering, or social status.

Here are some examples of facts of the trade that have been proven
by research:

• People will remember what they see 85% of the time, and what they hear 15% of the time.
• Celebrities rate below average in persuading people to buy products.
• Copy set in black type on a white background will attract more reader than copy set in white type on a black background.

This article focuses on the generalities of advertising.  In the next two articles I will give more specifics on producing advertising for television, radio, magazines, and newspapers.

A critical point I wish to make here is that not all advertising sells.  The wrong advertising can, in fact, reduce sales of a product.  One survey found that consumption of a certain brand of beer was lower among people who remembered its advertising than those who did not.  The brewer had spent millions of dollars on advertising which had a negative effect on his beer sales.  What is the lesson here?  Test your advertising!

Before you develop the advertisement, know not only your product inside and out but the competition’s as well (that includes their advertising).  Then look at your product from the consumer’s point of view.  Find out how they think about your product, what language they use when they discuss the subject, what attributes are important to them, and what benefit(s) would be most likely to make them buy your product.

If you cannot afford to hire professionals to do this research, you can do it yourself.  Informal conversations with a dozen or so of your consumers can help just as much as a formal survey.
Next decide how you want your product positioned.  Specifically, what does the product do, and who will buy it?  The Wii could have been positioned as an educational learning system but instead it was positioned as a physically interactive gaming system.

Now you need to address the brand image, or personality, you want for your brand.  Products have personalities just as people do.  What personality you choose for your product can make or break the product in the market place.  Product personality is communicated through its name, its price, the style of its advertising, and above all, the nature of the product itself.  Your advertising and all future ones should consistently convey this personality year after year to build that brand image.  What do you envision when you think of Budweiser beer?  Clydesdale horses pulling a sleigh in winter or an antique fireman’s wagon with a Dalmatian on board, beautiful scenery, all comes to mind.  The personality that Budweiser wants to project for its beer is that it is a beer of exceptional quality that has withstood the test of time.

Finally—and I cannot stress this enough—make the product the hero of your advertising.  When faced with selling parity products, you need to explain the virtues more persuasively than your competitors and differentiate yours by the style of your advertising.

When you follow these guidelines, you should be in a better position to produce a successful advertisement.  Just remember: good advertising can be easily identified.  The best advertising simply sells the most product!

Theresa Freihoefer is an assistant professor of business at Central Oregon Community College.  She comes to the college with a wealth of real-world experience in business.  Professor Freihoefer can be reached at


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