26 Common Advertising Techniques and Why They Work

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated June 22, 2022

Published July 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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In today’s market, advertisers rely on innovative methods to attract customers and differentiate their products from competitors. Advertising techniques can range from applying color psychology and using symbolism to appealing to an audience’s emotions. Learning about these techniques may present an organization with more marketing opportunities and can improve overall brand awareness.

In this article, we provide 26 examples of advertising techniques and discuss how they can help you differentiate yourself from competitors.

What are advertising techniques?

An advertising technique is a method marketers use to attract attention to a product. For example, an advertising technique may emphasize mystery surrounding a product that results in consumers purchasing a product or wanting to learn more about a company. Markets use some advertising techniques to elicit emotions that persuade consumers to make purchases. Each technique works differently to achieve the same goal of finalizing a sale.

Related: What Is the Difference Between Marketing and Advertising?

26 advertising techniques to help improve your marketing strategy

When creating a marketing campaign, consider these 26 advertising techniques to help increase sales:

1. Color psychology

Color psychology is the use of colors to elicit certain emotions. Marketing professionals use this technique in all forms of visual marketing. It's important to consider colors in backgrounds, product packaging, fonts and branding because a particular color palette can send specific messages. For example, muted colors can provide consumers with a sense of calmness, so marketers often use light colors in advertisements for sleep-related products. Many companies use one color to represent their brand that becomes recognizable to consumers.

Related: Brand Color Psychology: Colors and Their Appeal to Consumers

2. Composition

Composition entails the arrangement of elements in an advertisement and how they occupy space. This technique is present in every type of visual advertisement. Composition helps influence perspective by creating a visual flow that directs the viewer's eye from one element to the next. Arrows or borders are examples of composition that marketing professionals may insert in an attempt to guide a viewer's eyes in the intended direction.

Related: Asymmetrical Design: Definition, Principles and How To Use It

3. Focal point

A focal point is the main point of interest in an image. Choosing a focal point is important to ensure your message is clear to viewers. You can create a focal point in several ways. For example, you can use selective focus, which blurs everything in the background to garner attention toward your focal point. You can also use lighting to emphasize a product and create a dark background around it.

Related: Creating Emphasis in Art: Definition, Importance and Methods

4. Typographic composition

Typography, more commonly known as fonts, includes the style and appearance of text. It can portray messages with words while also remaining visually appealing. To ensure that text is interesting to consumers, a designer may manipulate letters into shapes or add texture. It's important to remain aware of the amount of text you use in an advertisement. When typography is not the primary element, it may be beneficial to use it sparingly so you don't distract from the message of the advertisement.

Related: What Is Typography? Terms, Rules and Why It's Important

5. Rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is a visual tool that helps content creators and designers place elements on a space in a visually appealing fashion. Executing the rule of thirds entails dividing a design space into six equal rectangles, creating two rows and three columns of space to fill. To maintain balance, creators place important elements such as the brand name and product at the cross points of the rectangles.

6. Repetition

The repetition technique in a marketing strategy either increases the visibility of an advertisement or references the same message within an advertisement multiple times. You may see this technique in commercials when the spokesperson repeats a phrase to attract attention to a particular product feature. Most often, marketers use repetition to raise awareness for new products or the brand generally. This involves displaying an advertisement to customers multiple times. You can achieve repetition by buying numerous TV spots, several billboards or promoting posts on social media.

7. Behind the scenes

The behind-the-scenes technique provides customers with an exclusive inside look at how a company operates. This is useful for relating to customers and for delivering important information to them, such as how the company adds safety features to their product. Examples of behind-the-scenes content for advertisements may include a video tour of the company, photos of team members working in the office or examples of alternate versions of a product.

Related: Types of Advertisements and What Makes Them Successful

8. Symbolism

Symbolism is when one object or idea represents another. Marketers use metaphors and similes in advertisements to achieve symbolism. This technique helps customers associate the product with something familiar and attribute the symbol's qualities to the product. For example, a marketing strategy for a particular candle can use a visual metaphor to compare the scent of the candle to a pine forest.

Related: What Is Symbolism? Definition and Examples

9. Point of view

The point-of-view advertising technique displays an action as if the viewer is performing or experiencing it themselves. This can create a powerful connection with viewers by immersing them in the ad. Often, this technique is useful for selling lifestyle products, such as outdoor equipment. To film point-of-view advertisements, camera operators or stunt artists wear the camera at eye level to represent a first-person point of view.

10. Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism involves transforming inanimate objects into creatures that can walk and talk. This tactic uses personification to make the advertisement memorable. Companies may create a mascot by choosing an animal to represent their brand and use anthropomorphism to incorporate their mascot into advertisements. Sometimes, brands may create merchandise of the character to sell or distribute as gifts to consumers if their advertisements are successful and the character becomes easily recognizable.

11. Emotional appeal

Emotional appeal is an effective marketing technique that targets a viewer's emotions to motivate action. This technique uses storytelling to influences emotions such as love, sympathy, anger or fear. For example, advertisements for jewelry may show the progression of a couple's relationship through gifts of jewelry—from a bracelet to a necklace to an engagement ring.

Related: A Guide to Emotional Advertising: Types, Benefits and Tips

12. Bandwagon effect

The bandwagon effect is a tactic that marketers use to persuade consumers that everyone is using their product. This encourages consumers to join in ongoing trends. It's a psychological tactic and an emotional appeal to people's fear of being left out, making it quite effective for younger generations.

Related: The Bandwagon Effect in Marketing: Pros and Cons

13. Storytelling

Storytelling in advertising helps customers relate to a product. Companies can tell a story by sharing customer experiences, recalling their history or gathering inspiration from their particular industry. This strategy often uses elements from many other advertising techniques, such as appeal to emotion and point of view.

Related: What Is Brand Storytelling? Benefits, Types and Examples

14. Social proof

Social proof is a technique that uses social influence to persuade prospective consumers to copy the actions of other customers. By using customer testimonials, companies prove the effectiveness and value of their product to potential customers. Testimonials are similar to referrals and can attain consumers' trust by having another consumer, to whom new customers can relate, speak positively about a brand. Marketing professionals can also refer to awards for safety, speed or strength that their company has attained as social proof.

Related: Social Proof Examples and How To Use This Marketing Tool

15. Animation and motion graphics

Using animation and motion graphics is popular in digital advertising. It's often equally creative as traditional advertising and is cost-effective. Animation may include drawings and computer graphics to which artists add motion. A motion graphic is similar but usually features shapes and texts rather than characters.

16. Social media influencers

This technique uses people with large social media followings to create content involving a product or service, which encourages their following to buy the product. It's effective to use a person who your target audience might already know because there's a high likelihood that they like and trust the opinions of this person. Sometimes, a company may send an influencer guidelines of a particular visual style to follow or offer the influencer freedom in how they present the product. In exchange for advertising a product, companies often provide influencers with affiliate links or pay them per post.

Related: What Is a Social Media Influencer? (Types and Marketing Tips)

17. Unfinished ads

This technique makes claims without providing details, making the advertisement feel unfinished. For example, a fruit snack company may claim that its product provides nutrition without specifying the types or quantity of nutrition included. This can persuade viewers to seek more information on a company website or call a sales representative, which provides the company with more opportunities to sell to consumers. Often, companies use this technique to highlight how their product or service is better than a competitor's.

18. Promotions and rewards

Marketers use the promotions and rewards technique to create special offers and discounts that entice consumers to buy a product. Here are example promotions and rewards to consider including:

  • Free shipping

  • Buy-one, get-one-free offers

  • No interest

  • A certain percentage off

  • Free samples

  • Coupons

Related: Promotional Advertisements: Definition and Benefits of Using Them

19. Claims

Claims is an advertising technique that describes a product's features and the benefits it provides to potential customers. An example of a claim is when a juice company states that it makes its product with locally grown fruit. Claims usually garner the attention of an audience and generate intrigue.

20. Gaze

Gaze is a technique involving eye contact. Highlighting someone's eyes is effective in directing attention and establishing a tone for an advertisement. Here are two common types of gaze techniques:

Direct gaze

The character or person featured in the advertisement looks directly at the viewers. This develops a connection and can motivate consumers to feel certain emotions based on other aspects of the advertisement. For example, perfume advertisements use this technique by including conventionally attractive people to associate a sense of desire with the smell of a particular perfume.

Three-quarter gaze

The character or person featured in an advertisement intently directs their eyes elsewhere on screen. This can generate a sense of mystery and wonder or help emphasize the focal point of the ad. Beauty products often use this technique by having actors gaze into a mirror while applying makeup, face wash or another item.

21. Celebrity endorsement

The celebrity endorsement technique entails hiring a famous figure to advertise the benefits of a product to consumers. Using a familiar person helps develop trust with a target audience. It's also common for people to want to replicate celebrity personalities, which is why this technique is successful when selling products. This is similar to using social media influencers, but celebrities often have a larger audience. Many brands use celebrities in their advertising, and some companies feature a particular celebrity in most of their ads who become a brand ambassador.

Related: 8 Types of Endorsements in Advertising

22. Visual path

As the name of this technique implies, a visual path guides the viewer as they look at a specific piece of content. One of the most notable shapes for a visual path is the “Z” shape that directs consumers from the top-left corner to the top-right corner. From here, the viewer’s gaze naturally shifts down to the bottom-left corner before moving to the bottom-right corner. You can apply visual paths on websites and product packaging to ensure the viewer retains the most relevant information.

23. Body language

Because many companies rely on textual and verbal messaging, you can differentiate yourself by incorporating body language into your marketing strategies. Consider how models or actors in advertisements convey emotions through their postures and facial expressions. By leveraging these nonverbal cues, you can quickly encourage viewers to feel a certain way about a product. For instance, an advertisement that depicts a caring interaction between a doctor and patient might convince the audience of the hospital’s empathetic approach.

Related: Communicating with Nonverbal Cues: Examples of Body Language

24. Association

Association is the process of helping your audience create correlations between a product and certain feelings. For instance, consider a commercial for a luxury watch. Especially if audiences are unfamiliar with the brand, the company might include components like mansions, limousines, and expensive clothing in the commercial. These luxury items allow the viewer to associate the watch with luxury and purchase it if it aligns with their affluent lifestyle.

25. Augmented reality

Augmented reality is an experience where computers enhance real-world environments by appealing to a person’s various senses. For instance, consider a clothing brand that wants to advertise a new collection. One of its stores might set up a life-size screen that captures a picture of a consumer and shows them how they would look in different clothing items. This experience differentiates the brand from competitors by intriguing customers and creating a more convenient shopping experience.

Read more: Types of Advertisements and What Makes Them Successful

26. Statistics

Advertisers often rely on statistics to highlight the effectiveness of their products and prove that other people are using them. For instance, a cleaning product might indicate the percentage of germs it can remove from a surface. Representing statistics honestly can help you retain the trust of your customers.

Nonverbal communication is one of many tools that can help you make a good impression in interviews and in your professional life. However, candidate assessments should be based on skills and qualifications, and workplaces should strive to be inclusive and understanding of individual differences in communication styles.

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