Advertising is a critical part of brand marketing because it helps establish your name with your customers. Without some experience, however, it’s possible for many startups to drop the ball when it comes to using their advertising for establishing their voice in the marketplace. If they pitch their message the right way, though, they'll have their audience eager to find out more, driving them to their website or social media pages.
Even so, it can be a daunting task to engage an audience as a brand new startup. Not only does a company have to make itself attractive to potential buyers, but it also needs to show the audience what makes its brand unique. The advertisement needs to tell a story, contain a message and speak to the audience’s needs, all at the same time. Many startups aim for functionality in their advertising, thinking that brand marketing can come later. Some companies never make it that far. Getting it right on the first try should be the goal for any new startup.
These eight thought leaders from Ad Age Collective have been in the business of advertising for years, and below they share their insight into the critical elements a startup should consider when creating its first ad.
1. Make sure it shows who you are.
The first job of advertising is to be remembered. It is essential you understand that no one else knows who you are and what you've been hard at work on. Be sure your first ad proclaims who you are and why they should care. Get to the details another time, when they remember you and care enough to give you a second and third look. - Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency
2. Highlight what makes you different.
Link to a well-defined, well-understood product, category or need and highlight your main point of difference. You might think that what you do is super innovative, but it is important to put it in context so that potential customers can quickly consider it. If you are a "me too" product, think very thoughtfully about your target audience and convey what makes you better for them. - Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)
3. Follow these three tenets.
As a brand parent, the adage “make good choices” applies. Never choose between customer activation and brand building. Insist that every ad does at least three things: 1) includes an offer your customer target can’t refuse; 2) heightens brand desirability and preference; 3) captures and helps define your analytics and data optimization capabilities. - Sean Cunningham, VAB
4. Start with ‘why,’ not ‘what.’
Start with "why" not "what." Companies often use videos to explain the "what" -- what their product is and what the benefits are. Newsflash -- customers don't care, and the "what" is better served in an article or words. Instead, draw them into your story with a compelling ad, preferably video, focused on the "why." Humans love stories and a compelling "why" will generate more interest than any list of features. - Patrick Ward, Rootstrap
5. Leverage your newness.
Leverage your newness and startup status to get your audience's interest piqued. There's a wonderful sense of excitement around startups that appeal to a lot of people. Try to make your copy, graphics and other elements feature your trailblazing technology and spirit, at least at first. You only get one chance at being "young." - Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
6. Make it about your audience needs.
An icon is not created in a day. Your first advertisement has to be about your audience needs, and not just about your brand. Don't get caught up in just the visuals -- though they must be compelling -- but focus more on the message. If the message resonates, then you can start to show how your brand stands behind that message. And make sure that promise covers all stakeholders from day one. - Maggie O'Neill, Peppercomm
7. Aim to intrigue and dare.
Intrigue and dare. There is a lot of noise to break through. It’s hard for prospective clients to differentiate what’s real and what’s not, what they actually need and what the best fit is. The key is to identify your angle, unique value proposition and why you do what you do. Communicate that in an intriguing, simple and visual way. Intrigue them to learn more and dare to get their attention. - Oz Etzioni, Clinch
8. Make sure you understand your voice.
Whether you are a startup or a company with a long history, the goal is the same. Start with understanding your authentic voice and purpose as a brand and make sure that this guides you throughout the execution of your strategy. Stray from that and your money won't go far. - Rich Honiball, Navy Exchange Service Command