Does a piece of ancient advertising wisdom still hold true in today’s online world?

Does a piece of ancient advertising wisdom still hold true in today’s online world?
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 22, 2015:Collection of popular social media logos printed on paper:Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest, Skype, YouTube, Linkedin and others on wooden background

Years ago, students of print advertising were taught the following mantra:



“The purpose of an ad is to attract and hold the favourable attention of the maximum economic number of the right kind of people while a selling story is told and a desired action or reaction induced”.


Quite a mouthful, but are parts or all of this still relevant if you use web pages, social media sites and email marketing to carry out the same tasks? Let’s examine the key elements:

Your aim on Facebook or Twitter, your website or through an email, is certainly to gain attention. If you don’t, your prospect has already moved on to the next message or started another search. Once they have noticed you, you then want to keep them with you and that’s achieved by their having a favourable impression of what you are saying. It should meet their needs or rouse their interest in a way that’s relevant to their needs or wants.

The idea of a maximum economic number of people is perhaps less valid. Social media sites can exponentially generate huge numbers of potential prospects with only the initial stoking of the flames coming from what you say or as a result of actions you have taken. Of course, in other ways, there are still limits to your budgets and it remains important that each pound is spent as wisely as possible.

Again, a selling story is now told in an increasing number of ways. When the saying was originally coined, a press ad would be created and perhaps some further limited word-of-mouth action generated. One of your aims now, through social media and the like, is to make sure that the messages dispersed are what you would want people to be saying.

Finally you are certainly still looking for that desired action to be induced. When creating an email marketing campaign or web content, it’s vital to make sure that people know what you want them to do and how they can comply. Too many efforts in these areas can still simply act as information pieces rather than delivering selling opportunities.


In summary

Our starting point has retained much of its relevance today simply because it strikes a note of common sense. As legendary adman Leo Burnett once said:



“There’s no such thing as hard sell and soft sell. There’s only smart sell and stupid sell”. Make sure your activities keep on the “smart” side.