Should your advertising be memorable? Or persuasive?

Dumb question? After all, who tries to create boring advertising? Well, a lot of agencies try creating memorable advertising and end up with boring. Memorable is defined as what customers can remember. Something that will stay in the customer’s overloaded mind. The effort is to think of words and visuals that will ‘break through’ the clutter and inject a series of memory triggers that will hopefully lead to purchase. The logical line of thinking is – First, customers need to remember your brand before they prefer it.

Can you see where this is going? We don’t necessarily buy what we remember from ads. Colgate is known as a brand by 90% of the consuming public but it has a 57% market share (or thereabout). So, the rest don’t really care or have not been persuaded to use the brand. I am using Colgate as an example merely because it has a market potential of 100% since all of us need to use toothpaste at least once a day. I am assuming that bad breath is as much as a problem today as it has been for centuries! And 57% have been persuaded by the message that Colgate sends out with all its expensive advertising. They have been reached, informed but they haven’t bought into the promise of Colgate.

That’s a good thing because it means the small guys have a chance. So, if you don’t have the media bazooka that Colgate can unleash, but a little water gun you can aim at a much smaller segment, then you first have to decide who you are talking to. And craft a message that persuades them. This is the part that every little company stumbles on. They hate limiting the market they are aiming for. After all, a larger market segment does mean higher potential, right? Wrong, 100 percent of the time

What has all this got to do with persuasion? Everything. Once you have defined who you are aiming for, the messaging becomes a lot simpler. And the people it is meant to reach get it, every time. Even in the middle of 100 commercials on prime time or on the crowded pages of a newspaper, your ad speaks to them in a tone and manner that they relate to. It may be invisible to 95% of the other viewers and readers, but they file it away, even without being aware of it. And the moment they visit a store where your product is available, boom. From the shelf, straight into the shopping cart.

Do you remember thinking ‘I must try this product sometime’ when you see an ad? Those are the persuasive ones. They don’t look very different from all the other ads in the category, but for you, it has a special significance. Or take the case of students in a class. When you scanned the sea of faces for the first time, did a few look interesting? And when someone cracked a joke or made an insightful comment, did you make a mental note – I must get to know this person better? That’s the difference between memorable and persuasive. The kid who picked his nose in class is memorable. But the one you like being with is persuasive.