Persuasive Advertising Theory

Every Creative Director, writer and designer should know a little something about advertising theory.

"How do these ads work, anyway?"

AdCracker does not claim to have "The Answer." What we do know is that there are two very important factors to consider:

1) The audience.
Your audience can include personalities as different as Mr. Ni Ching, a mechanical engineer in Zuhai, China and Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team.

Mr. Ni Ching skeptically scrutinizes even the smallest purchase. On the other end of the spectrum, Mr. Cuban sat down one evening and ordered a multi-million dollar business jet with a couple of clicks on the Internet.

But most people are, well, like most other people. And one way to understand how most people approach purchase decisions is with a tool called CIT:

a Consumer involvement theory

2) The communication.
That's the stuff you create.

And when the time comes to put pencil to paper, fingers to keyboard - to actually create your campaign or ad - it can be helpful to consider, "OK, what's the primary reaction I want from the target audience?"

You won't need to do this with every ad. But for new clients, new campaigns, or new ways of thinking, it can be clever to go back to basics.

What you will discover is that there are three primary responses your ads can trigger. Three basic things an advertising campaign can get people to do:

- To feel, to experience an emotion

- To think, to understand, perhaps remember

- Take action, do something

Generally speaking ...

- Getting people to think and feel certain things about a company, its products and services, that's the goal of branding, of brand-building.

The ultimate objective, of course, is to influence purchase behavior. But to do so by first getting viewers to like the product or understand the service or feel a relationship with the company.

- Getting people to do something, and do it soon - to clip and mail a coupon, click on a Web site, pick up the phone and place an order - that's what direct marketing and direct response advertising are about.

In real life, of course, it's not that simple. When someone sees an ad, they can react in a variety of ways, most commonly with indifference.

And if they do respond at all, then thinking, feeling, and acting can blend together in different ways with different people. The human mind is infinitely complex.

But this is not an article on social psychology. For creative communications - for creative communicators - it can help to consider how to influence people to think, feel or act.

For more, click to

a Creative brief

Truth Be Told: There is no scientific evidence supporting subliminal persuasion - the notion that stimuli below the threshold of conscious awareness can influence behavior.

And when you look at the spectrum of forces that do influence purchase behavior - from genetics to parents and peers - you'll find advertising way down at the weak end of that spectrum.

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