It’s time to reinvent the way we advertise. Traditional ads are out, and non-traditional ads are in. There is no doubt in my mind that advertising has radically transformed since the 80s coming into the 21st century. However, today’s traditional advertising has watered down the true essence of ads.

Traditional ad-think, or the way professionals assume ads work, has embraced an era of data-centric and media-focused advertising. That’s never how advertising should work.

Customers are more than a checklist of demographics and interests. They are human beings with unique values, beliefs, and emotions. The only way to truly connect with your customers is to speak to them on a personal level.

Non-traditional advertising tactics tap into this potential. Non-traditional ads speak to what customers care about and how to say it meaningfully through relevant media channels. Without non-traditional marketing strategies, your message can easily get lost in the noise of traditional, mass-produced marketing.

So what does non-traditional advertising look like? If you want to learn more about non-traditional ads, keep reading and I’ll tell you everything you should know.

Our Assumption of Ads

Before we even begin to dissect non-traditional ads and advertising, let’s first define traditional advertising. When people refer to “traditional advertising,” they generally talk about advertising through obsolete or bygone mediums. This includes television, radio, newspapers, and billboards to reach your customers.

However, this is not exactly an accurate definition of traditional advertising because it violates what “tradition” means. Traditions are customs or beliefs transferred from generation to generation, and these traditions change with time. Your tradition now is not the same tradition as a decade ago. So, in reality, traditional advertising is simply the norm or the conventional practice employed by advertisers in today’s era.

Conventional advertising tactics suggest that the medium is the message and data drives every decision. This means that advertisers are more focused on where their ads will be seen and who will see them.

In stark contrast to ads’ definition, which is to communicate a message to the right audience and make an impact. As Roy H. Williams puts it:

[Today’s] ads are written under the assumption that we can get people to care about things they don’t care about. But this approach rarely succeeds.

Non-traditional advertising, on the other hand, is named as such because they deviate from the current norm. It is not just about utilizing unconventional mediums like guerilla marketing or viral videos. It’s about breaking away from the typical selling approach and speaking to your customers on a personal level.

Non-traditional ads put emphasis on identifying what truly matters to the target audience. This is then pursued by delivering the ad with powerful messaging through psychologically impactful channels. That’s the basic difference between traditional and non-traditional ads.

What Traditional Ad-think Says?

In this digital era, access to information is more available than ever before. Visiting websites, for example, leaves cookies on our browsers that track our online behavior. The data obtained is then used by businesses to present us with targeted ads. Traditional or conventional advertising is all about the numbers game. Creating ads and targeting a specific audience is based on their demographics, media usage and past purchase behavior.

The idea is respectable but the execution is weak, and I’ll explain why below. Traditional ad-think boxes advertising into three categories:

Target the Right People

Ad targeting is one of the foundations of traditional advertising. It’s a technique where advertisers reach their target audiences using their demographics, psychographics, online behavior and buying habits.

Targeting works under the impression that the more specific the targeting, the higher the chance of ad campaign success. After all, since these targets have previous engagements in your industry, they are likely more interested, right? They generally should be, but targeting alone is not enough to convert prospects to customers. First, targeting limits your scope to a few people, when you could create broader connections with a more general audience. More importantly, your advertisement also needs a powerful message, if you want the best results and returns.

Leverage the Right Media

With advertisers’ reliance on data for their traditional advertising endeavors, it’s not surprising that they nitpick their preferred media outlets. They compete for attention on channels where the competition is and focus on where their target audience likely consumes content.

Non-traditional advertising takes a different approach. Instead of focusing on the medium itself, non-traditional ads focus on what customers really care about. Regardless of the media, the right message will resonate with people who are genuinely in need of your solutions.

Use Creativity in Delivering Your Message

People get bombarded with up to 5 thousand ads per day. The more we encounter ads, the more desensitized we get and the less information retained from each ad. With that in mind, creativity became a powerful tool in giving ads a fresh and memorable spin.

Advertisements now bank on great use of media and visual impact to make sure the ads stand out. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. However, attaining a competitive edge today has transitioned from who offers the best advantage to who leverages the best media. Unfortunately, good editing and visual impact are more often used to compensate for a lack of value and a mediocre message. These three are the common pitfalls of traditional advertising. Focusing on them will not yield you the results you’re looking for. Alternatively, non-traditional ads might just do the trick.

What Non-Traditional Ad-think Really is Saying

All three aspects above help ensure that the “right” people are sought for advertisements. Sadly, they still all fail in the most important element of an ad: the message. Non-traditional advertising focuses on that front. It’s about understanding the customer and delivering a clear, meaningful and relevant value proposition for them. That is where non-traditional ads stand out.

Here are what non-traditional ad-think believes in:

The Message Above All Else

More than the medium, above all those incredible graphics, your ad’s message will always prevail. You can spend a fortune running tastefully produced ads on Facebook and still fail miserably if the message is subpar. Non-traditional ads put the message front and center, with the medium and other peripherals being secondary.

Winning the ad race means appealing to a customer’s underlying felt needs, which are money, energy, and time. You take the focus away from the product features or benefits, or the company behind it. Non-traditional ads articulate the advantages that customers could get with your solution. Regardless of what media you use, as long as the ad is relevant to your audience, it will garner sales.

As Roy once said: “The media doesn’t make the ad work. The ad makes the media work.

Clarity > Creativity

Creativity will always be secondary to clarity. A non-traditional ad should be clear, to the point, and leave no room for misinterpretation. It should contain a significant call to action, one that urges customers to take immediate action. Non-traditional advertising is about making an emotional connection with the customer and speaking their language, literally.

Your goal is not to sound like a word virtuoso, even if that sounds nice. The aim is to talk in an interesting manner while perfectly articulating the advantages of having your solutions. Skip the cute and clever. Stick to the strategically entertaining.

Deliver Your Message by Offering the Best Psychological Environment

Advertising is a mind game. You want to plant seeds into your consumers’ minds and have them bloom into a desire for your solutions. It’s not just about getting their attention, but rather making them remember you when they are ready to make a purchase.

While data and media can play an influential role, non-traditional advertising emphasizes the importance of truly understanding your target audience. You want to reframe your message in an angle that targets their pain and pleasure points. That’s the only way your message resonates with them in a meaningful way. This means going beyond just demographics and delving deeper into psychographics– exploring their values, lifestyles, and attitudes.

This can go in two ways:

  • Find their deepest pain points and soothe them, or
  • Identify their pleasure points and satisfy them.

Speak to What Customers Already Care About

At the end of the day, you can have an ad that boasts creativity and packs a powerful message yet still fails. Why? Because advertisements work best when customers already care about what you have to say. Unless that’s the case, you’re just adding to the noise.

The good news with mass market industries like residential home services is that everyone will need them, one way or another. Identifying their unmet desires is also straightforward. Always frame your angle on how you can satisfy these unmet desires. Take the attention away from your business and towards your audience. That’s how non-traditional ads work because traditionally, businesses like to talk more about themselves in their advertising.

If you want to craft the perfect non-traditional ads for your business, we got you covered. Wizard of Ads™ can help produce the perfect customer-centric ad campaigns for your business. Book a call with Ryan Chute from Wizard of Ads® to learn more.