Strategy – key input for Advertising


Mohankumar D
Research Associate
IBS Research Center

"A good strategy should work like a funnel"
- J.V. Vilanilam & A.K. Varghese

Advertisers smartly recognize the required strategy for creating huge impact in the minds of the target customers, to fulfill their marketing objective. It is essential that Advertising agency should narrow their focus to specific target segment by dramatizing the advertising idea through brilliant brand propositions by differentiating advertiser brand with the competitors.

The strategy deployed by an advertiser should be simple, single minded and stimulating to the creative team of an advertising agency, which enables them in bringing a good advertising layout. Perhaps, the strategy used as plan and direction for creating good ad layout either in the print layout or in the script / story board according to the advertiser's specifications. The strategy should fulfill the predetermined marketing objective of the advertiser.

In seeking to build and sustain competitive advantage, managers need to build up strategies by considering the likely future changes and which will themselves change in line with circumstances. The effective strategy should answers the following questions:

1) Why are we advertising?
2) Whom are we trying to reach and change?
3) What change do we want in the target audience?

It serves as an efficient means to reach the target customers, for that the marketer has to identify their target segment through several resources such as the magazines, market research agencies, articles published on newspapers….etc, which were considered to be the reliable source for evaluating the customer physiological and psychographic characteristics to serve the market needs efficiently.

Why are we advertising?

The purpose of an effective advertising is to promote the products or services through brilliant propositions in the minds of the customers, which might influence customers to acquire those product/ services in the near future. Generally most of the advertising exposes the advertiser's products to the target segment, but failed to reap the expected responses from the customers. The prime objective of advertising is to generate measurable responses in terms of sales volume over the specific period. It is believed  that the some of the advertisements endorsed the advertiser's product normally by exposing their product/ services to the target segment, but failed to get the desired response from the same segment. The advertisement exposure alone doesn't guarantee the desired result for the advertiser, when the ad fails to draw the measurable responses in terms of sales volume over a period from the targeted segment.

Exposure is what advertising DOES, but it is NOT how we evaluate success. The purpose of advertising in a small business is NOT exposure. It is to generate a measurable response that advances a sale over a Period.

Advertising deals with people's feelings and emotions. It integrates the psychology of the buyer, his motives, attitudes, as well as the influences on him such as his family and reference groups, social class and culture. In order to augment the advertisement persuasiveness, advertisers use many types of extensions of behavioral sciences to marketing and buying behaviors. One such extension is the theory of cognitive dissonance. The purpose of advertising is to create a cognitive dissonance to generate a favorable response from the buyer toward a product or a concept.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory, developed by Leon Festinger (1957), is concerned with the relationships among cognitions (Festinger, 1957). In this context, cognition can be perceived as a piece of knowledge that may

The purpose of advertising is used as a promotional tool for increasing the sales volume over specific period in order to fulfill their marketing objective. In the social context, it is mainly utilized for reducing accidents, increasing the voters' participation during the election period, reducing smoking habits, and various awareness campaigns particularly aimed for the benefits of the entire society. In the social context it has many applications, where it would benefit the perceived section of the society. It is prominent that ad exposure alone doesn't determine the fate of the customers while purchasing the product or services. The attitude toward the advertisement is defined "as a predisposition to respond in favorable or unfavorable manner to a particular advertising stimulus at some stage in a particular ad exposure". The range of feelings generated by advertisements is broad and spreads from contentment to repulsion. Those feelings can have a direct impact on brand attitudes.

It is really important for advertisers to generate a feeling that will modify the buyer's attitude toward a product. One of the strategies used by advertisers is to create a cognitive dissonance in people's mind1. Cognitive Irrelevance probably portrays the bulk of the relationships among a person's cognitions. Irrelevance simply means that the two cognitions have nothing to do with each other. Two cognitions are consonant if one cognition is consistent with the other. People prefer to have harmonious mutual understanding among their cognitions. We do not know whether this aspect is innate or learned, but people do prefer cognitions by relating two different objects.

When two cognitions are said to be dissonant or incompatible if one cognition is inconsistent with another (Festinger, 1957). Two factors mainly influence the strength of the dissonance: the number of dissonant beliefs, and the importance attached to each belief. According to "the Cognitive Dissonance" theory developed by Leon Festinger (1957), there are three ways to eliminate the dissonance. The first one consists in dropping the importance of the dissonant beliefs, the second one in accumulating more consonant beliefs that overshadow the dissonant beliefs and the last one in changing beliefs so that they are no longer inconsistent. The last option seems to be the most important for advertisers, because it gives them the opportunity to make a change in people's beliefs by creating a dissonance. This change could result in a modification of their attitudes and trigger a purchase decision, which is exactly the purpose of advertising.

Whom are we trying to reach and change? :

Generally the advertiser targets the specific segment to promote their concept or a product, and this marketing communication aimed at achieving the marketing objective. The target segment comprises of the entire population who have similar physiological and psychographic characteristics. Martin Oxley of TNS argues2 that "it is indeed possible to fast track new product launches or new marketing initiatives by identifying and targeting early adopters and opinion leaders". The consumers who tend to try a new product early in its lifecycle differ not only in their openness to innovation but also in the type of message that is most effective in influencing them and in their media choices.

There are several theories that support consumer psychology regarding their acceptance level of new products/ concepts, such as, The two- step hypothesis3. The trickle-down4 theory and Everett Rogers diffusion of innovations5, pioneered the theory of Diffusion of innovation, which is being laid down as measurement tool by the advertisers in most of the cases, for identifying the early adopters and opinion shapers in the society.

The advertiser has to consider the significant role of the "early adopters" and the "opinion shapers", while creating an efficient advertising strategy. In 1962 Rogers stated in his book "Diffusion of Innovations" that adopters of any new innovations or idea could be classified as innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%), early majority (34%), late majority (34%) and laggards (16%). Early adopters are considered as an integral part of the local social system than innovators, whereas innovators are cosmopolites.  This adopter category has the maximum number of opinion leaders in the entire social systems than any other category of adopters. Since potential adopters seek the in formations and advices about the innovation from the early adopters. Thatswhy early adopters were considered by many potential adopters as the "individual to check with" before using a new idea/ concept. They are also called as "role model" for the many other potential adopters of a society. The early adopters sustains to earn esteem of his colleagues and preserve a central position in the communication structure of the system, while making judicious decision over the innovative products. The advertiser strategy should centered on convincing the early adopters and opinion shapers through their marketing communications.

In late 1999 'Time IBOPE' conducted6 a TGI (Target Group Index) study in Chile, by using a 'survey' method among 2003 persons between the ages of 12 and 64 living in Gran Santiago, to find the early adopters. The key question used in this survey was " I am usually among the first to acquire new technology". Among all adults, 6.8% of them either "Completely agree" or "Somewhat agree" with this statement.  Those people were called as early adopters, according to Roger's theory. The following table represents the statistical data of their findings.

Table 1.Early Adopters by Socio-Economic Level and Education

Demographic Variable/Class

% Early Adopters


Socio-Economic Level



Highest Level of Education Attained



(source: TGI Chile, Time IBOPE)

The diffusion process refers to the rate at which various members of society accept a new product.  The foremost person on the slab to buy the latest product is probably an innovator. Approximately three percent of the market is innovators.  They are venturesome and try new ideas at some risk. Early adopters are respected and tend to be influential in social settings. They are the "opinion leaders" in their communities and adopt new ideas early on but carefully. Nor all early adopters remains unchanged for all product categories, as the number or persons tend to change according to product likes and dislikes.

Opinion shapers are those who are familiar with the new idea or concept. They are market leaders (who pioneered the new concept/ product), scientist, specialists, experts, media analyst, and celebrities.etc. In some cases stake holders are also considered as opinion shapers. The opinion shapers were considered as prime focus for the advertisers while framing the strategy to tap the entire segment through an advertisement.

What change do we want in the target audience?

Advertiser must prioritize the target audience such as early adopters and opinion shapers in that segment according to their marketing objective, when creating an efficient strategy. It should be an essential part for making / influencing the target audience in favor of their new products/ services through an effective advertising. The primary attribute of this marketing communication would include the value of the product & its relevance, future plan & progress which is conveyed properly to the decision makers and opinion shapers of the segment, in order to fulfill their marketing objectives.

24.01.2005/ The mobile service provider T-Mobile has extended its sponsorship of professional cycling for another two years up to 2008. The announcement came from Martin Knauer, marketing director at T-Mobile Deutschland, during the presentation of the T-Mobile Team in Bonn on Monday.

A successful 2004 season has played its part in encouraging T-Mobile to extend its sponsorship of the team up to 2008 - last season the magenta squad won the team prize in the World Cup and Tour de France, Andreas Klöden clinched the runner-up spot in the Tour, Steffen Wesemann won the Tour of Flanders, Jan Ullrich triumphed in the Tour de Suisse and Erik Zabel collected a World Cup silver medal.

The riders have been worthy of the trust placed in them and shown themselves to be ideal ambassadors and opinion shapers for our international brand, is how Knauer qualifies the decision. A truly international cycling team dovetails perfectly with our communications strategy and helps the Group increase awareness worldwide, argues Knauer.


The great advertising strategy plays vital role in influencing the decision making of the target audience in favor of their new products /concepts. The advertiser strategy used as major constituent for creative briefing while the creating an effective advertisement. Primarily, the advertisement is measured in terms of quantifiable sales volume over certain period, where it would lend the happiness to the client/advertiser in terms of desired profit.


1. Hastings G, MacFadyen L. A day in the life of an advertising man: review of internal documents from the UK tobacco industry's principal advertising agencies. BMJ 2000; 321: 366-371[Free Full Text]. (5 August.)

2. Is the Purpose of Advertising to Create Cognitive Dissonance Aug13, 2002

3. Everett Rogers Diffusion of innovations, Everett M. Rogers (1931) _1

1. Is the Purpose of Advertising to Create Cognitive Dissonance Aug13,2002
2. Targeting Movers and Shakers Lucy Bristowe, Julie Tinson & Clive Nancarrow,
3. The two-step hypothesis – This theory states that the information and acceptance flood, by means of the media, first to opinion leaders, then to the general population
4. The trickle-down theory – According to this theory, the product tend to be luxurious at first, and therefore only reachable to the wealthy social segment. After certain period they become less expense and are diffused to lower and lowest income segment
5. The Everett Rogers Diffusion of innovations : This theory states that for any given product category, there are five categories of product adopters, they are given as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, laggards
6. Early Adopters of Technological Innovations

Mohankumar D
Research Associate
IBS Research Center

Source: E-mail April 28, 2006


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