The first law of advertising is quite simple:

Thou Shalt Not Be Boring!

And there are really only two ways to avoid breaking that law:

  1. Be relevant
  2. Be entertaining (or at least interesting)

Ideally you want to be both, but either will do, depending on the advertising you’re running. 

Direct Response relies on relevance. 

It’s why DR guys have traditionally been major proponents of targeting.

Most offers can’t be relevant to everybody.  They can only be relevant to people who are actively in the market for whatever’s “on offer.”

For example, DR advertisers know to look for a “starving crowd” when pitching hamburgers.

Branding relies on entertainment. 

Branding requires you to reach people before they need what you sell. 

This means your offer (and subject) will be inherently irrelevant to the audience, so your ads had darn well better be entertaining. 

Branding ads entertain so they can engage the customer before she needs the product or service being advertised.

How to Know If Your Ads Obey the Law

If you’re running direct response, you’ll know that your ads are working by how many people buy whatever it is that you’re selling.

How well do your ads “pull” or “convert”?

If you’re running branding ads, you have to understand that being entertaining is necessary but not sufficient. 

The audience has to be more than entertained; they also have to be persuaded. 

This is why story and character-based branding ads are so powerful: they persuade while they entertain. 

And you measure persuasion the same way as with DR ads:

How well do your ads convert? 

The only difference is the timeline. 

DR ads convert right away. You can measure DR results within hours, days, or weeks.

Branding ads convert over time. So you measure them over (several) months and years. 

However, DR results are one-and-done; you run the ad, you get the results, and that’s it. 

Plus DR ads do not work better each time they run. An offer does not gain power from being repeated. If anything, it loses urgency each time the offer is remade. 

This is why Pay-Per-Crack inevitably ends up feeling like a vicious treadmill

In contrast, Branding results are cumulative over time. They work better the longer they run. Because messaging becomes more believable, and persuasion becomes more ingrained, through repetition. 

What This Means For You

We started with a simple law, and we’ll end with some simple questions:

    1. Are you running branding ads? 
    2. Are your branding ads entertaining? 
    3. Do your branding ads persuade? 
    4. Are you doing significantly more business now than when you started?

If you can’t answer “Yes” to those four questions, you should think about rebooting your advertising efforts.