Everywhere we look we are bombarded with advertising: subtle approaches and in your face, unapologetic approaches. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but which is more effective and how do adverts influence us when making purchases?

What is advertising?

Not wishing to teach anyone to suck eggs, but it’s easier to start from the beginning and go from there. If advertising is old hat to you, jump on a few paragraphs for advice on how to create adverts to influence customers.

For everyone else keen to understand more about how adverts influence us when making purchases, here we go.

Advertising is essentially persuading people to buy what you’re selling, without you physically being there. It is an artform in persuasion techniques, and there are two forms of persuasion: rational or irrational.

Rational advertising can easily be implemented by small businesses to see off the competition, it is the quick win:

  1. A more appealing price point.
  2. Explaining how the product will enhance the user’s life.

Irrational advertising (or emotional advertising) is more savvy. It’s the subtle technique of tugging at the heartstrings, or getting users to lust after a luxury product because it is a high status symbol:

  1. Think of a celebrity endorsing a beauty product, or
  2. The picture of a happy family next to the building site.

What is the difference between advertising and marketing?

Marketing is the common thread that imbues the entire business, advertising is an offshoot of marketing. It is one small spoke of the giant marketing wheel. Yet advertising is a very important part of growing a business.

The most successful form of advertising

To really make a connection and ultimately a sale, the most successful form of advertising is the emotional one. Eliciting an emotional response from an advert has a far greater influence on the viewer of said advert than merely showing the ad’s content alone.

Appealing to our humanity is a great way to make a connection, tapping into:

  1. Pride
  2. Love
  3. Empathy
  4. Loneliness
  5. Friendships
  6. Memories

Or simply appealing to our fundamental desire to improve our quality of life: a promise of more fun, more glamour, more excitement, is more likely to get you the return you’re seeking.

How to use psychology to boost sales

So how do you create those adverts to influence customers to make a purchase? Essentially, it boils down to trust.

Large companies are successful because they have a presence, people have heard of them, they see their products everywhere and assume, therefore, that the products are worth buying.

But if you don’t have that rapport with your buyers, if you haven’t created a social following online or a loyal customer base yet, you can still create that connection through great graphic designs.

If you know what your audience want before they do, you are onto a winner. You can create the hook that will reel them in:

1. You don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression

Your products, like everything, don’t get a do-over. They have to appeal from the off. You have to create a hook that piques the interest, in a positive way. Your design is the proverbial book cover, and no matter what we are told, we all judge a book by its cover.

Don’t try and be alternative in your approach to your graphic design or advert. A visually pleasing design, an image or images that are clean and simple will appeal to people, subconsciously or not, in a way a complicated design can not.

2. Keep the design simple

You can’t be there in person to explain to each individual customer what it is you’re selling and why it’s so great. You have to allow your product to sell itself. A great design can immediately change the perception of a product from complicated to user friendly.

Humans are visual creatures, we make split second decisions every minute of every day, you want your product to be straightforward to understand, because if it isn’t, your customers will walk away. Maximise evolution and keep your design uncomplicated.

3. Make your graphic design attention grabbing

The average person’s attention span online is five seconds. That is all. You have just five seconds to grab someone’s interest and persuade them not just to buy, but firstly just to stick around.

Your design has to be not only simple to understand, but, easy on the eye (and the brain), able to capture someone’s attention and draw them in. No pressure.

4. A picture paints a thousand words

If words aren’t your thing, then consider the old adage: a picture paints a thousand words.

If you’re struggling with being pithy and concise find an alternative way to communicate. However you get your point across is more important than how you do it - communication is key to understanding.

If you can create a design that sells your product or service without uttering a single word, just think how many more people you can reach (assuming the context is transferable).

Take the use of colour for example. Colour has been used for a millenia to trigger a powerful emotional response:

  1. Red is ingrained in our psyche to mean danger.
  2. Green conveys an organic quality.
  3. Babybird blue is the colour of trust.
  4. Yellow can be either friendly or a warning.
  5. Purple is luxurious (think Cadbury’s chocolate).

5. Appeal to the emotions

As mentioned previously, if you really want to make a connection, create an advert that is emotional, something that has a visceral effect on those viewing it.

Tug at the heartstrings, have people fall in love. Use a beautiful photograph or a combination of colours that are aesthetically pleasing. People want to buy from people and companies they trust and like.