In my Grandma Rie’s Money Camp this year, I started teaching the grand kids about selling – how to do it and how advertisers sell to us.
On the how to sell side, we covered topics such as:
- Finding the right customers for your product or service.
- Getting to know what those right customers want and need.
- Showing the customers why what you are selling meets their need or want.
- Asking for the sale (or the next step).
and the steps to getting to the above – such as smiling, saying thank you, following up to keep the customer, making eye contact, doing what you say you will and etc.
The eye opener for them, though, was seeing how the commercials they routinely view make them want things. I used a couple of You Tube Videos, called ‘Buy me that too‘, The Kid’s Survival Guide to TV Advertising from Consumer Reports Television.
Techniques used in the art of advertisements can be straight forward or sneaky. The behind the scenes manipulations in some of the ads we all see are just amazing.
Advertisers use a variety of techniques to get us to buy.
This big word just means that we humans tend to see human characteristics in animals or objects – if a cat purrs, we think it likes us, for instance. Advertisers use animals posed in certain ways to elicit the desired feeling from us towards their products. Another way to say this is that the more human the product feels, the more likely we are to buy it.
When we trust someone, we feel safe in buying “their” product. That is why advertisers seek out authorities or famous people to star in the advertisement. Did you know that we humans use visual clues to determine if someone is trustworthy? If we see creepy mustaches, weirdly dressed people or folks with wide faces or blue eyes (instead of brown) we may not trust that person.
We all want to be part of the “in” crowd. Advertisers appeal to our need to belong and be the alpha member of the tribe by implying that if we buy their product we will be more liked or more competent. Alternately, companies will try to get us to join their club to be part of their “elite” and fun group.
For adult commercials, advertisers appeal to our desire to be attractive sexually. We must look better, thinner, more muscular, healthier, or taller. Or we need more beautiful skin or hair, or we must smell good all the time. Guess what, the advertisers product will make it so! (or so they would have you think).
Sense of urgency
Ever get hooked by a limited time offer? Of course, we all have. Or maybe you fell prey to a limited quantity sale – only 3 available at this price. If an advertiser can make you feel a sense of urgency in making your purchase, they have a better chance of parting you and your money.
We all supposedly want a high social status. We want to be better than the rest of humanity! By showing us that an elite group of beautiful, wealthy, smart (or etc) people use their product, advertisers attempt to elicit a sense of envy, making us want to buy their product to raise our status to that of those shown in the ads.
Many variations of a quote tell us that if you say something often enough, it is believed, or becomes the truth – even if a lie.
Repetition is how we learn things. Repetition is how we become comfortable with things. Repetition is a key tool in the advertiser’s arsenal.
Have you ever noticed the subliminal advertising in some movies? In “Big” starring Tom Hanks, did you notice the soda machine brand in his loft apartment? By flashing images of products or showing us pictures of people enjoying themselves – too fast for us to consciously realizing that the image is there, our subconscious absorbs a message and influences our decision to buy or not.
Another trick to part you from your money is to offer something ‘free’, such as a buy one get one free offer, or a toy included in a cereal box.
Still another subconscious trick used is to intentionally make one or two things very high priced in hopes that the merchandise truly being marketed will seem inexpensive in comparision.
When you are shopping in person, the very architecture of the buildings you shop in may be designed to slow you down to add to impulse sales.
The price set may also influence you in ways you aren’t totally recognizing. Research shows that people are more likely to buy something at a price ending in an odd number that is just under an even whole number (such as $9.99).
We eat out much more than our parents and grandparents did. Partly due to busy schedules, but also influenced by the ubiquitous commercials for restaurant food.
It looks so good, but tricks abound.
Hamburgers may be propped up with cardboard and toothpicks, buns may have the seed glued on. Salads and grapes may be covered with hairspray to make them look fresh. Steak and chicken are most likely raw, but plumped up with paper towels or mashed potatoes inside, then dyed with food coloring and seared with a blowtorch, with grill marks added via a branding iron.
That yummy looking ice cream may well be made of colored mashed potatoes, and the fizzy sodas may be full of ant-acid to make if fizzier.
Also using visual appeal, toy ads sometimes ‘help’ out the functionality of the toys by using behind the scenes wires or hooks or tape and etc.
From the crunch of a potato chip to the whirring of a toy helicopter, the sounds you hear on those ads are NOT made by the products being sold. The clip clop of a horse walking down the street may actually be the sound made by wooden shoes.
What advertiser tricks have you seen and did they get you to spend your money?