Advertising shouldn’t be a roll of the dice

To most business owners, advertising is a mysterious abyss. They know it must be done to spread the word about their business and get customers in the door. But then once the advertising goes out, what happens? Well, they ask new customers where they came from, how they heard about them.

That’s fine. Though entirely useless. The truth is, most advertising is difficult if not impossible to track. With the exception of a few tracking methods and online advertising, many times business owners just have to hope what they are doing is working.

With greater industry knowledge, the guessing game gets a little bit easier. Understanding how each ad medium works – its strengths and weaknesses – increases the chances that advertising is not only being heard but being heard by the right people.

We’ve discussed much of this before, here on Eric’s Ad Blog. The differences between echoic (auditory) and iconic (visual) advertising. A simple radio-to-print comparison.

Brief overview of Iconic and Echoic. Let’s recap:

Iconic advertising (images) is advertising with pictures or text alone, like NewspaperMagazinesFlyersMailers, or to a certain extent Internet and TV banners. Best for an immediate response.

Echoic advertising (sound) is advertising with audio like Radio and Television. Best for spreading a message over the long term.

But now we’re better prepared to discuss the entire advertising gamut. Advertising from A to Z.

I was recently hired by the Yell Group, known primarily for its business directory, Yellowbook, and its growing list of small- and medium-sized business services.

My first question when joining Yellowbook was “Where do the Yellow Pages fit into the scheme of advertising?” It’s unlike radio, unlike TV, unlike newspaper, unlike billboards or any form of creative advertising.

I made it a point to understand how directories fit into the picture. And now I’ve got the answer.

The advertising we’re all aware of is called CREATIVE ADVERTISING: Radio, TV, Print, Billboards, Direct Mail, Mobile, etc.

Creative advertising creates an image, a feeling, a desire in the consumer’s mind. It attempts to create a need. Or create a brand in the mind of the consumer. This includes branding through auditory advertising like radio and TV. As well as a simple print ad in the newspaper. Iconic and Echoic advertising are both types of Creative Advertising.

The other type of advertising, the type that we don’t encounter until we’re ready to buy, is referred to as DIRECTIONAL ADVERTISING. This includes Directories and Search Engines. Yellow Pages – both print and online – and Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.

Directional advertising is where consumers go when they’re ready to buy. Consumer A is hungry, and wants to try a new restaurant. He goes to google.com and types in “Restaurants, Philadelphia Pennsylvania” and the search engine attempts to direct Consumer A to restaurants that fit his search criteria. Consumer B is in the need for a new pair of shoes. She goes to yellowbook.com and types in “Shoe Store, State College Pa.” She’s directed to results that fit her search criteria.

In both instances, business can increase their ranking in the results through paid and organic methods.

Now that we’ve established Creative and Directional types of advertising, let’s see where they fit in with Iconic and Echoic, the two types of Creative advertising.

What I’ve done is constructed a tool to assist in the advertising process. Knowing what medium works best in a given situation and what a business’ current advertising is doing for business. Or how it’s holding the business back.

I call it the D.I.C.E tool. A self-titled acronym for Directional, Iconic, Creative and Echoic. First I’ll explain each type of advertising. And a quick line on how and why it works. Below the DICE description I’ve constructed a diagram for a side-by-side comparison of each type of advertising and common forms of advertising, from radio to yellow pages.

D – DIRECTIONAL
Explanation: Directional advertising directs those in need with business to serve that need.
How and Why it works: Directional advertising is as close to Point-of-Sale advertising as you can get. The consumers are there and ready to buy. Directional advertising points them in the right direction to make a purchase.

I – ICONIC
Explanation: Advertising with pictures or text. Visual.
How and Why it works: Iconic advertising catches the consumers eye when he or she is ready to buy. In the creative advertising realm, iconic advertising is immediate and effective if the consumer is ready to buy.

C – CREATIVE
Explanation: Advertising that attempts to create interest and demand for a product. Or create an idea, an image, a feeling or a brand.
How and Why it works: Creative advertising is the advertising we’re all aware of. We see and hear it every day, all around us. Some of it entertains us, some of it makes us laugh, cry or think about something differetnly than we did before. Creative advertising attempts to change our minds about products — or reinforce things we already believe in an attempt to connect us with a brand or company.

E – ECHOIC
Explanation: Advertising with audio, sending a message to consumers.
How and Why it works: Echoic advertising reaches consumers even when they are not listening. That’s why we remember commercials jingles without even trying. We’ve heard them again and again. That’s how echoic advertising works best — frequently and over the long term. Best for building brands.

D – DirectionalI – IconicC – CreativeE – Echoic
Radio  XX
Television XXX
Newspaper / Magazine XX 
Online Banners XX 
Billboards XX 
Search EnginesXX  
Yellow PagesXX  
Internet Yellow PagesXX  

My goal with this guide was not only to maintain my sanity as I expand my knowledge of the advertising services available but also to serve as a tool for small- and medium-size business in their advertising plans for promotion, expansion and the future success of their business.

Advertising and business legend Peter Drucker believed the purpose of a business is to create a customer. Though, like gambling, things don’t always work out as planned. Before setting an advertising agenda, attempt to understand the landscape and how each ad medium works.

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