Tricks of the marketing trade

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The ins and outs of psychology in digital marketing

Generally, ad campaigns are focused on a mixture of making ads stand out, making ads enjoyable to the target demographic, and improving customers' online experience and making it more enjoyable. The last point, making a user's experience more enjoyable. With over five trillion ads shown online every year, any advertisement that fails in any of the above will be an annoyance. So, how is psychology a factor in making the best ads the best?

Good digital advertising, like good advertising in general, will appeal to both the brain and the heart. However, trends are starting to show that those which tug on the emotional heartstrings have a more significant pull than those which focus on the grey matter inside our skulls. Friendship, lack of friendship and loneliness, nostalgia, success and achievement, love, pride, and shame are all paramount in making sound, and useful ads.

We can divide emotions and put the reactions under two separate umbrellas.

The first, which deals with creativity, occurs when a user sees a brand as being pioneering. Good brands can become synonymous with the very industry they occupy. This means that their advertising needs to be surprising and to be something out of the ordinary lest they become so popular that they merely become part of the furniture. Ads must joyfully draw attention. They must appeal to a set of emotions that create a feeling of the passion trying to be sold. They must take the user on an emotional journey that ends in our product offering something, emotionally, that no one else can.

The second is to do with empathy. Think puppies, babies, the perfect couple in their new ideal home. The home itself is not the point; what is being sold are the beautiful feelings that it will provide.

We can see this in almost all of the most successful ad campaigns. Coca Cola has stolen a march on the Christmas season: Holidays are coming also means that a caravan of gorgeous Christmas and very coincidentally coca-cola colored trucks are coming to us to deliver the happiness that only the holiday season, which ostensibly relies on this sugary drink, can bring.

Focus on trends can be a tool, too, and a massive one. We have seen many ads featuring empowered women, for example, and we can look at Dove soap as an example. Firstly, it doesn't dry your skin as those dastardly soap manufacturers will, and secondly, it empowers us to be the best we can be. Using this product won't only give us soft baby skin, but it will make us smiling happy, proud people. Be proud of who you are, and use our products to do that.

It is nothing new; the tobacco industry used the very same methods to sell their products with the promise of taking the stress out of our lives. Cheetos made us cooler. Pepsi max meant we were daredevils, and home equity plans allow us to enjoy our autumn years comfortable in the knowledge that we are now happier, more content people who deserve to be prouder of ourselves.

We have a product to sell, and these right marketing precepts do not attempt to hide that. They also have great products. Moreover, these great products started as the brainstorm of what the demographic may need. The very best have forced their ways into niches and created a real feeling of missing out if we do not comply. The worst border on annoyance and are fearmongering. We have often seen ads in which we are nudged in the direction of "a good parent will provide their most treasured ones with…", It's important to know that this is not what we are aiming for; it is in many senses, the complete opposite. We don't want to tell people that they are wrong, but we do want to offer a glimpse of the emotion that what we have can provide.

What is the best way to sell a pen? Well, we need to show them the things that can be signed for with it. We need to show that new avenues can be created, something that was not on offer before, an emotion that only the affluent or the savvy have heard of.

We believe in our products, and nobody really thinks that coca-cola is as vital to Christmas as the things we treasure about it, but it certainly takes the guilt away from the guilty pleasure. 

In digital marketing, the aim is often to augment the user experience; the same can be said for radio and TV, Super Bowl ads are some of the most fun parts of the evening. The connection is that at the end of the line, we are selling a product intending to improve somebody's wellbeing, making somebody feel better, give hope, laughter, or inspire or provoke some emotion. And the best ads shine that light for us.

 

Jenny Stanley, managing director at Appetite Creative.

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