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Advertising strategy: “tell me what I want”

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What is it about a certain ad message that resonates and stays with us?

Is it a feeling of being assailed – by Old Spice’s clever (and now-trademark) use of the bizzare, for example? Is advertising’s appeal in its ability to “arrest the human intelligence long enough to get money from it,” as the quote goes?

It’s true, a deft hand can take the science of psychological persuasion to another level with a nuanced pitch. But I’d argue that it’s both more and less than selling a product.

Consider digital writing: Someone writing interactive copy for the web isn’t just selling me something, they’re telling me what I want from it. There’s a difference. In a user experience scenario, the “product” we buy is packaged in simplicity, ease and convenience. An actual e-commerce goal (e.g., buy tickets quick) depends entirely on how I deliver the package. As a user, I don’t want to just buy the tickets, I want to buy them and feel good about it.

Understand that this set of goals and expectations we have as consumers and readers on the web is fundamentally different than when we’re a captive TV audience. It’s more than pitch, it’s experience; it’s less than conjure, it’s basic human appeal. Just make this EASY. Tell me what I want.

Here’s what I mean:

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 3.43.29 PM

I was kinda impressed by the site overhaul American Airlines did as part of their brand identity repositioning following a big merger with US Airways.

Recently, I was faced with the prospect of purchasing a flight last-minute. It was an expensive decision; the click-to-purchase path didn’t need to make that more difficult. But the online purchase experience ended up being, all things considered, a positive one.

Some first impressions on how their UX succeeded:

– Plenty of white space (conveys simplicity, clarity)
– Intuitive navigation
– Direct appeal (“your,” “my”)
– A human tone of voice (esp. in subheads that offer a little extra direction to steer the ship along)

It’s web copy: tell me what I need. No need to spout creativity. Just make it intuitive.

Also, I think “brand” is an important word choice, though the writer’s just one cog in that wheel. As I’ve mentioned, starting with a solid foundation – a grasp of big-picture conceptual strategy – delivers consistently more effective copy.

Anyway, if you’ve made it all the way to the end here, thanks for reading! While in the job search I’ve been fortunate to have work where I can update this portfolio monthly. Still learning a ton about digital as I go…

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