serving a product

A renowned theatrical producer, David Belasco, created a maxim when he said, "If you can't write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don’t have a clear idea." That insight applies to advertising strategy. If you can't state yours in seven words or less, you don't have one that will work.

What is an advertising strategy? Why must it be brief? Who should devise it? How often should it be changed? Good questions!

An advertising strategy is a premise that makes a promise. The premise is a succinct answer to the question, "What business are we in?" It is stated as a benefit or problem solution, that is, as a promise, to your customers and prospects.

For example, the business of a beauty salon is to offer services that help to groom its customers so they will look their best and feel better about themselves, which helps them to be more successful. A shortened version of that mission might be: Quality salon services to help people look beautiful, feel great and get ahead.

Since happy, successful people usually have an air of vivacity, we can abbreviate the strategy to seven words: Quality salon services to give people pizzazz. The strategy is now a simple message which will serve as the foundation of the salon's advertising program. Interestingly, it can also be recast as a name for the business, PIZZAZZ! Or, if the business already has a name, PIZZAZZ FOR YOU! might be used as a service mark.

An advertising strategy is a core concept. It must be focused because the marketplace is deluged with signs and advertisements and there is only a moment to grab attention. It must not be simply a list of attributes; people want to know--"What's in it for me?" Only a premise with a promise has the power to drive your marketing plan and direct your creative strategy.

Do it yourself?

As to the question of who should formulate the strategy, it may be possible to devise your company core concept in-house. In the same way, lots of people dye their own hair at home in the kitchen-- but it's safer to go to a professional. A limp strategy is worse than having orange hair.

An advertising agency will:

  1. Assist you to define your marketing challenge
  2. Find the drama in your product or service and translate that to a meaningful benefit
  3. Analyze your target market and secondary markets
  4. Thoroughly study your competition
  5. Develop a strategy that will position your product or service to break through media clutter, be perceived in a memorable way, and generate sales.


The "big idea" which all creative people strive for depends on the advertising strategy to be kindled. A good agency will tailor ads to embody the strategy. We'll insure that all aspects of your advertising program dovetail into a premise with a promise.

Finally, when is it time to change your strategy? September is a good month to review your advertising program as you set a new budget for the coming year and devise new plans. As well, there's no time like the present. Call us to discuss whether it's time to change your strategy or to discover how to get more mileage out of your present one.

©2014. DAY Communications. All rights reserved.

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