Now’s the time to get back to basics with your advertising and marketing

It can’t have escaped your attention. Over the last few years it seems more and more brands don’t sell us products anymore. They sell a cause. The cause for equal opportunities, to battle racism, to promote real bodies, healthy eating, no more plastics in oceans etc… we’re in no way saying this is a bad thing; in fact we’re a big believer in both gender and race equality and OTB and we never expect placement students to work for free.

What’s clear though is that over the years advertising and marketing has changed, it’s become ‘worthy’ and it seems every brand wants to do a John Lewis Christmas advert or take up a cause to tap into a demographic to help boost its sales.

A great example of this change lies in FedEx’s latest campaign line. They’ve moved away from the classic, benefit led proposition of “when it absolutely, positively needs to be there overnight” to “connecting people and possibilities”.

As we emerge from the global pandemic, one thing is clear. People will still support causes (as can be seen in the black lives matter movement) but there will be a new focus also on self-preservation as people struggle to make ends meet and have an air of uncertainty over their jobs and income.

It’s for this reason alone that it’s time to get back to basics in your advertising and marketing and understand how to sell your features and benefits rather than the good you are doing for the world. People will want to know that you can “absolutely, positively get it there overnight” and not have the vagueness of “connecting possibilities”.

This is because when it comes to a period of hardship, the natural human condition immediately focuses on the self (which we’re not saying is a good thing), but the human mind immediately asks: “what’s in it for me?”.

So how do you get back to basics in your advertising and marketing and focus on benefit led messages?

One of the oldest and best techniques you can use when it comes to digging out benefit led messages is the F.A.B. technique. Now, obviously this technique relies on you having done lots of product research and understanding your key audience, but once you have done all that it’s a great structured way to help you dig out a benefit to your desired audience.

F.A.B. in case you didn’t know, stands for:

F: The feature, the fact, the raw information about your product or service

A: the advantage, the reason why the feature makes it superior to other products

B: The benefit, the difference the advantage makes to people’s lives

Let’s give you an example with a Duracell battery.

F. These batteries are made with alkaline

A. The battery has a higher energy density (it stores more energy)

than non-alkaline batteries

B. Your electrical item will work for longer

Another fun game you can play to help uncover both benefit-led messages and propositions to your audiences is the ‘so what?’ technique. This, if you like, is a fun game to play within your marketing team.

You take a product or service and you list out all its features on one side of a two-sided column. Then, in the other column, you ask yourself “so what?” like a child would do and write the answers down.

For example, if a feature was that it’s a pencil with an eraser at the end. The “so what” would be, that you can easily erase any mistakes without having to hunt around for an eraser and it will help you save paper and therefore money.

These are just two of the many techniques we use at OTB.

As we come out of the global pandemic and marketers look to generate sales and convince people that shopping in their stores or dining at their restaurant is safe. You need to look long and hard at your positioning and marketing messages to ensure your communications are answering the simple “what’s in it for me?” mindset.

If you don’t you could very well find that your competitors have the edge over you as they will certainly be looking at moving away from cause related marketing back to benefit led marketing.

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