Be Awesome, and Learn How To Advertise Better than Your Competition


In advertising not to be different is virtually suicidal. - Bill Bernbach

You and I have both seen way, way too many advertisements in our millennial life. If we could calculate the amount of time we’ve lost because a pop-up ad interrupted our reading or how many ads our hands have flipped through to continue reading in a magazine or newspaper, or what percentage of our life has been watching or listening to an ad, or....I’ll stop because I’m shuddering at the thought of accepting how these hours are adding up to months of my life.

Instead of pondering on the far past, let’s stay recent. Please pause for a moment, and think about how many advertisements you saw yesterday. Honestly do this. Take an educated estimate, this has a purpose.

Okay done?

In-case you missed a few dozen, please count how many ads showed up in your email. How many did you scroll past on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? How many commercials did you have to painfully endure or skip over on Youtube? How many pop-up ads did you grind your teeth at as you were halfway through an article or in the middle of working in an app? How many ads did you see while commuting? How many ads were mailed to you?

Think about that. Among the absurd amount of advertisements you see everyday. You still get physical advertisements mailed to your address. Think of how many hands touched that ad before you looked at it. Think about the forests that were cleared for paper. Think about where the printer ink is made. Think about how much fuel was used to transport the mail. All of this to angrily throw it in the trash because it’s not worthy of recycling.

I’m trying to be cheeky, but I’m also not. The amount of visuals we consume daily is overwhelming. Even if you’re deeply engaged with the subject matter there’s too much.

There’s a better approach and bigger picture idea here.

Let’s pretend you love smoothies. After looking at 50 images of fruity, veggie, raw smoothies, you’ve forgotten what most of them look like, and you’re probably scrolling through several before stopping to pause and look at one for a few moments.

This is where thinking about how your advertisement is going to look among clutter becomes important. Do you want your ad to be more clutter, simply another smoothie pic? Or do you want it to be THE SMOOTHIE PIC?

I assume you want the latter, but it’s not easy. Unless you have a niche that hasn’t been saturated, you’re competing to grab the attention of your customer with competitors and thousands of other visuals that float in-front of their eyeballs everyday. But there’s a way to approach this problem in a very formal, unfancy way. It’s called research.

The strongest way to start, is to study your competitor’s advertisements and social media sites. On Instagram, look at every single one of their posts and see which images have the most likes and comments, and which have the least. Do the same process with their other online platforms with each competitor and start building a folder of the work they share.

This isn’t mind-bending thinking, but it does take time. Luckily you can do this while on the couch or while existing in that foggy time between back-to-back meetings. By understanding what has worked for your competitors, will give you an idea on where the minimum level of brainstorming should begin.

From there we can take the research one step further. By going back and looking at your competitors awesome posts and duds, we want to separate these posts into two piles, information and manipulation.

Since you’re competing for the same customer base, we want to see if information visuals or graphics that are intended to manipulate have better results or worse. By dividing the posts into INFORMATION or MANIPULATION we can then get a clear idea on which path to use. We can study the work, and breakdown the copywriting and visuals. Or if they’re both fairly equal, we can blend the two angles together.

The point of all this is to allow the opportunity to see results with your advertisements, even if you’re on a tight budget.

Too often, small businesses look to have marketing materials made and don’t do any research. They instead gamble on the bargain bin designer they hired, hoping this individual knows how to research wisely before starting their project. This usually leads to the customer paying a designer for work that won’t drive results, and the small business feels jipped.

As a whole, this poor approach hurts both the small business community and graphic design industry. In the bigger picture, wouldn’t it be better to have less advertisements that were poorly researched and developed? Maybe we all would actually take a moment and read an ad that was designed to our tastes?

By doing this research beforehand, you not only help out your designer see where to start their design process, but you save yourself time and money. You can see what your competition has tried, and learn what didn’t work for them. So you don’t even have to consider those options or deal with the headaches. You can build off of their success, and be unique and different at the same time, which is what already makes you awesome.

Chris Brock