CMOs Must Ask These 4 Questions to Create Successful Ad Campaigns
CMOs should always aim to tie their ad campaigns to incremental sales impact.
Failure to do so can not only hurt your professional reputation, but also lead to smaller marketing budgets for your brand in the future. After all, CFOs faced with tough financial decisions will be more supportive of proven performance over unknown marketing ventures.
The upper limit of sales optimization's impact is driven by how compelling your ads are. Even in events like the Super Bowl, marketers must get the balance right between getting attention and communicating product benefits.
If you'd like to start creating powerful ad campaigns with more results your CFO will understand, bring these questions to your creative development process:
1. What Have We Done to Ensure Our Campaign Is Attention-Grabbing?
Consumers are exposed to hundreds of ads each day, and most go unnoticed. Some ads are different. At the Super Bowl, for instance, people expect to be blown away by the ads — so all of them grab attention in some way or another. They key to an attention-grabbing ad is generating interest in a way that is connected to the product or service you are marketing.
The Walmart ad that aired during this year's Super Bowl struck a nice balance between relevant entertainment (using famous cars) while still focusing on the benefits of Walmart's pickup service. The marketing team must have started this project with very clear objectives and communication priorities.
While not everyone has the budget to license cars from famous movies, it doesn't mean you can't think outside the box. For example, is there a relevant, timely issue that resonates with your target audience? What about homing in on an angle others haven't explored yet? When you work on your own marketing campaign, make sure your ad commands attention.
2. Now That We Have Consumers’ Attention, Will the Ad Compel People to Buy?
Balancing these first two questions is challenging. In the desire to break through and get noticed, brands often end up being funny or provocative — but fail to deliver a strategic message.
Audi’s E-Tron commercial had a great build-up with the "Field of Dreams" reference, and the conclusion was funny. But where was the reason to buy the car? Audi grabbed the audience’s attention, but it wasn’t able to bring its message full circle to encourage action.
On the other hand, the Hyundai Shopper Assurance ad grabbed attention by having Jason Bateman build intrigue for the audience. It finished things up by contrasting the benefits of buying a Hyundai with going the traditional dealership route.
3. What's the Main Idea of This Campaign?
Your message should be crystal-clear, because seemingly minor things can ruin your return on ad spend. For example, a seemingly great display ad concept will completely flop if the font is too small to read.
Once you’ve executed on your vision, take a step back. Make sure your concept still makes sense and is clearly illustrated. Think out of context, too. What will your work look like from other perspectives?
This is the reason Sprint’s Super Bowl commercial fell flat. It grabbed viewers' attention by combining its current campaigns with Bo Jackson and some out-of-this-world elements, but the message wasn't clear.
The worst part? The ad isn't so interesting that people are going to watch it over and over to figure it out. If Sprint had asked itself what the commercial's main idea was, it might have executed the ad differently.
4. Are We Reaching Consumers When and Where They're Receptive?
Consumers have many options to avoid commercials and advertisements in daily life, but they're unusually receptive and engaged during the Super Bowl. The ads are part of the event. Still, ad tone and messaging should fit the medium to drive maximum sales lift.
During the Super Bowl, many people enjoy the game while at parties and sports bars. In this setting, a fun, upbeat spot like Pepsi's commercial with Steve Carell, Cardi B, and Lil Jon fits the bill well. The message and the tone of the ad fit the Super Bowl. Compare that to the Andy Warhol Burger King ad. It was a quiet ad that likely won't drive sales. It was just too understated for a big, happy crowd.
The examples here are from the Super Bowl, but these tips apply to all areas of marketing. If you don’t know something exists, you can’t buy it. And if you find an ad confusing or boring, chances are that you won’t buy it.
We can take a lesson from these successful and unsuccessful Super Bowl ads and use these questions to form enduring and effective campaigns. By creating a better bottom line, you'll have more leeway in the future.
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