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The Rules of Advertising

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Photo by Jose Francisco Fernandez Saura on Pexels.com


Marketing with video advertising is a fairly formulaic process. Below are the commonly agreed upon ‘rules’ of advertising that one sees regularly used by companies. As you’ll see, the list includes some sarcasm.

So, enjoy the humorous list below, but remember, sharing a genuine, honest, and sincere message is probably the first rule of successful advertising.

Ultimately you want to create an exceptional product or service, based on passion. Then you won’t need to advertise. Instead, you can simply inform without any artificial hype.

Exceptional Advertising

I recently saw an ad from Acoustic Sounds that was probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. It broke all the traditional rules of advertising, but was very effective. Perhaps that’s why it was effective. [View Ad] It’s an excellent template and guideline for others to follow.

The Rules

These are the rules that seem to be commonplace with today’s marketing agencies. You should probably avoid all of them.

STEP #1 — Industry Terms

Assemble some popular terms and string them together to form sentences and use that as your script.

STEP #2 — Stock Media

Buy some stock video and stock audio. It may not be an authentic representation, but it’s what we in the industry call Instagramable.

STEP #3 — Special Effects

Add special effects. You must have special effects.

STEP #4 — Sexy People

The video must contain images of scantly-clothed men and women who look like professional models. Include a beach or pool scene even though it is irrelevant for the message of your video.

STEP #5 — Be Vague

Don’t tell the viewer too much. Keep them guessing.

STEP #6 — Paid Actors

Hire paid actors to talk about your product or service.

Step #7 — Private Jet

Consider renting a private jet fuselage interior for a photo shoot to portray yourself as super wealthy and successful. The cost for this is fairly low, and priced to be affordable for people who haven’t succeeded yet, but want to look like they have.

Step #8 — Keep It Short

Condense the advertising message into 30 to 60 seconds. Beyond that, you will lose people due to distractions and limited attention spans.

Step #9 — Mouse Trap

Don’t give the viewer a “skip” option. With website landing pages this is known as a mouse trap, because the browser’s back button keeps sending them to the landing page again. With video ads, if you have the option, don’t let them skip the ad.

Step #10 — Funnel

Everyone is talking about funnels these days. You’ll want to bring in as many people as possible through vague misleading clickbait ads. Get them to sign up. Then inundate them with emails and other marketing materials.

Step #11 — Links

Use automated processes to send out a bulk email campaign to millions of website owners. The email message should sound very personal and full of praise, “I was visiting your website and really like it.”

Claim to be a teacher working on a class assignment, or a nursing student working on a project.

The premise of the email can either be a broken link you’ve discovered on the person’s website, or a request to have the website owner link to your own site.

Alternatively, you can describe yourself as an aspiring content writer who wants a chance to publish an article.

For the email addresses that don’t respond to your original message (there will be many), send a dozen follow-up emails written to seem like they are personally scribed with comments like: “Did you get my email?” and “Perhaps there’s someone else who can help me?”

In the signature contact area at the bottom of your email, use a physical address of an abandoned lot or boarded up storefront. Most people won’t use Google Street View to verify the address.

To add a personal touch, include a photo of “yourself” that is an AI generated, but realistic looking, unique amalgamation of faces. [See ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com and refresh the page for new variations.]

Note that Step #11 is based on the flood of spam emails received that all seem to be based on the same template or formula.

Advertising Humor

The following self-deprecating video pokes fun at the hackneyed stereotypes and tropes that are overused in much of the advertising we see today.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com