The Art and Science of Advertising

The best advertising agencies know that the ‘creative’ elements of advertising are just the tip of the iceberg – or the ‘icing on the cake’. Less visible, but equally important, is the market research and clear understanding of customers’ want and needs. Advertising legend David Ogilvy emphasised the importance of researching how customers think in his book Confessions of an Advertising Man

The science of psychology has a lot to offer too. A fascinating book called Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion uses psychological research to demonstrate how advertising can become more effective by using science as well as art.

Here are just a few examples of the art and science of advertising:

1. Setting a very high price for one option in the pricing range makes the other prices look very economical. In other words, the £2,000 version doesn’t look so expensive any more, once a £5,000 version is added to the range (even if it doesn’t sell). This applies to services as well as goods.

2. Customers are more likely to behave according to what other people do, rather than what they ‘ought’ to do. In other words, it’s more effective to appeal to customers’ need to be part of the group than their sense of what’s right or wrong. The example in the book is about a campaign to encourage people to re-use hotel towels. People responded better to the fact that other guests were doing this, rather than to an appeal for guests to ‘save the environment’.

3. Loyalty cards with a few free stamps already attached are more likely to be used by customers. (A ten-stamp card with two already attached is more likely to be used than an empty eight-stamp card). Still needs eight more purchases but it’s perceived very differently.

These 50 secrets from the science of persuasion can be used by any creative business, not just advertising agencies, to help make any kind of promotion, publicity and sales initiative more effective.

We need to underpin our creative advertising with the scientific facts.