Over the years advertising has been entrusted with many roles, from I need to be seen or build awareness to building brands. Advertising creates perceptions about a product (brand) and creates awareness but is that what you and me want after spending crores of rupees in advertising? Or do we want our advertising to work for us by winning customers & increasing sales? What is advertising actually supposed to do for the product it is meant for?
In the words of Morris Hite “Advertising is salesmanship mass produced. No one would bother to use advertising if he could talk to all his prospects face-to-face. But he can’t.” However over the years the salesmanship aspect of advertising has gotten more and more diluted. Today, advertising has become abstract and seems to satisfy the creative orgasms of a few without doing anything for the brand. This probably is a prime reason why research proves that more and more people have been going social to gain information and recommendations on products. What good an advertisement is, if it does not create enough interest or conviction for a consumer to pick the product off the shelf and trust the product they are buying? Where many brand struggles in their messaging to Communicate “trust factor.”
The truth about advertising is that when a consumer views an ad, there is a high level of suspicion and difficulty in completely trusting a message, because everyone will tell me as consumer, about their strengths, no one will tell me about their weakness. So if xyz brand tells me, that it’s great, than the question that arises in my (consumers) mind is…Really? and this is MISTRUST.
No wonder, there are a slew of great Advertising campaigns that have been great creatively but have drained the brand financially. In the recent past there have been several campaigns that have failed to take off despite great advertising or great promotions. How many times, Award Winning Advertisements brought right amount of sales volume for the brands? Or advertisement which did well on Entertainment and recall also sold products and helped companies achieve their financial targets?
Advertising today is becoming more and more thematic and is constantly looking to intangibles to try and position a brand in the consumers mind. While that may work well in creating brand identity, however for advertising to sell, it has to be more informative, credible & honest.
Business and brands today need to look beyond plain vanilla advertising in order to make an impact and while I do not disagree with the fact that building an emotional connect and creating a brand identity is important and thematic advertising does that quite effectively but there is a need for brands to carefully look at the strategy of making advertising sell and in turn make advertising an investment and not an expense.
So what is wrong and how we can make our consumer Trust our advertising? In my opinion the brands at times fail to communicate the product attributes and the value Product will offer to their consumer and hence those who bought the brand (product) could not be convinced about the quality vs price of the brand. While making the advertisement we have shifted from “Product is Hero” to “Brand is Hero.” In other words, creating emotional connect with consumers, while compromising on the rational product information. So on one hand, while we are building emotional connect about the brand with Consumers, on the other hand we need to tell product story to consumers and how advertised product can be helpful to the consumer in their day to day life. And this need to be done simultaneously without compromising with branded/ thematic advertising and rationality around the product.
So what is it that creates value and builds trust? Very simply I believe that if a brand understands its strengths and effectively communicates it honestly the customers will buy. Third party credibility is also something that can be used to build trust in a brand. Today there are several platforms that advertisers can effectively exploit but the main thing is that brand managers need to think out the box.