An ad is not a person

25 Mar

My strata board wants to install a sign outside our visitor parking stall that reads: “Please refrain from using this space for longer than 24 hours.” Someone asked if there could be a threat of towing. The president replied, “Our strata is neighbourly and doesn’t use threats. Besides, I’ve gone out there before and politely asked people to move their car and they have.”

An ad is not a person. We can make a soft approach work in-person because there is:

accountability – the other person knows we know who they are
socialization – the other person has likely been trained to do what others are doing or tell them to do
authority – authority figures can wield much more control face-to-face
• possibility of immediate consequences

A sign has none of these. For advertising to be compelling, it needs to state consequences for behaviour.

If the strata’s brand personality is “neighbourly”, then making instructional signage that’s effective will be an exercise in futility. The very idea of the sign is off-brand.

Same goes for the salesman who walks into the marketing department and says, “On the sales floor I find asking questions is the best way to build a relationship that leads to a sale. Therefore, all our ads should have questions as headlines.” (Yes, I’ve heard this before.)

Readers don’t have relationships with ads. They have relationships with people. The ad should give them a compelling reason to meet your people.

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