At Opendoor, like a lot of ridesharing, bikesharing, and now scooter-sharing companies, we operate in a rapidly expanding city-by-city marketplace. That means we need to constantly launch Opendoor markets, introduce our brand, differentiate our products, and advertise our services to new cities where a lot of people have never heard of us. At the same time, we also have to track which markets are emerging, and which are mature, so that the new markets are getting the appropriate introductory direct response messaging, and the mature markets are getting the right differentiation, and brand reinforcing ads. For example, after four years in Phoenix we’ve gained healthy awareness, so we don’t need to introduce our brand here as much as we we need to differentiate it.
When do we say what to whom?
On the marketing team we create playbooks to bundle these different types of messages into buckets. We then spend paid media behind each bucket to walk people through the stages of introduction, trial, service engagement, all the way to satisfied customer. We also tailor messaging for each city around local conditions, e.g. if they are a hot, warm, or cold real estate market. If advertising is used to educate and persuade, turning your product from something that is unknown into something people can’t imagine living without, then the cadence and timing of these different types of messages is crucial in transforming our audience from brand unaware into brand champions.
Establishing a framework
We divide our framework into four stages. I’ll outline what they are and how they work below, but first — why four? Four because there are, according to Josh Weltman, basically just four fundamental different types of advertisements that exist. Who’s Josh Weltman? Josh Weltman was a co-producer on Mad Men, and the real life Creative Director behind some of Don and Peggy’s most iconic ad campaigns for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. A few years ago, Josh wrote a super handy advertising guidebook that outlines the creative process for using words and images to get people somewhere, to do something. If you’re working at a company that would love help telling your overall brand story more effectively, do your team a favor and invite the creative mind that made Don Draper so good at advertising over for a chat.
What are the 4 types of Advertising?
After years in advertising, Josh noticed that every brief had a few things in common. He realized—that at the end of every assignment—the teams were basically trying to do one of these four things:
1) Introduce a new product/service. What is it, and why do we need it now?
2) Drive trial/brand engagement through limited-time offers like sales and activations. Don’t miss out! This weekend only!
3) Differentiate benefits by reminding customers of the unique difference that your product/service delivers. Is it safer, faster, cheaper, easier, fancier?
4) Keep your converts and maintain loyalty with customers by demonstrating shared values. He calls these mutual love and respect ads.
When you look at the spectrum of direct response marketing leading to brand marketing, you notice that 1) and 2) are more on the direct response side of the fence, and 3) and 4) are more on the brand side. You also notice that there’s a linear order, and it works best if you follow it. First introduce, then get people to try and experience the product or service. Next, invest a lot of time explaining all the amazing benefits that make your product unique. And last, keep your customers loyal by reinforcing the relationship. The order of operations is super important. Here’s an example of an upcoming market launch.
Why you need the right message for the right person at the right time
Let’s say when we launch in Denver in the next couple months I make an ad that says: Skip the stress of listing in Denver. Get your offer. This ad wouldn’t be very effective. Why not? Because people in Denver don’t know what Opendoor does. In fact, they might confuse us with Opentable, or Glassdoor. Either way, the pain points of stress and listings won’t make any sense to them, because they won’t be associated with selling a home in our audiences’ mind. Before I can advertise the benefits of selling to Opendoor, I have to introduce Opendoor. Opendoor is the easy way to buy and sell your home. Get your offer. People can’t care about what you do, if they don’t know who you are.
What do the 4 types of advertising accomplish?
What do Introductory ads do?
Like the name suggests, introductory ads tell people about something that they didn’t know about. Just like when you meet a stranger you introduce yourself with your name vs one of your many features. Don’t worry, you can share those features later, right now we’re just saying hi. Who are you? Why are you here? This Apple ad tells us to say hello to iPod. It introduces us to something new, then tells us a fun feature of our new i-friend: “1,000 songs in my pocket? That’s crazy. My CDs held what—18 songs? And, only had 3-second skip delay.”
Why trial ads need to create urgency.
When you want someone to do something right away, you have to give them a reason. While supplies last tells me I’m going to miss out by waiting. Don’t miss the Mother’s Day sale, tells me this is my best chance to impress my mom with my flower-selecting-and-son-skills until next year. Car companies do a good job of getting people to trial the product by offering big savings on certain holiday weekends. President’s must love driving. Classic direct response.
How differentiation ads build relationships around the details
Differentiation ads, or ads that explain how your product or service are different/superior to those of your competition, are used for the giant bulk of advertising. These are the ads most people think about when we think about advertising. For example, while you might introduce your new smartphone for a couple months, you’ll spend years explaining why that phone is better than all the other competitors that do a lot of similar things.
Think of the I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC campaigns, or the Always the Real Thing, Always Coca Cola campaigns that want you to know that one brand is hip and and relevant, and the other is stuffy and old fashioned. Or one drink is authentic, and the other is just a fizzy imitation. To work, these ads have to compare and contrast. To highlight features and drill into benefits. Remember, features tell me what your product does, benefits explain what they do for me.
Why mutual love and respect ads reward your loyal customers for being in the club with you
You can’t be a Harley Davidson guy without a Harley Davidson. And you can’t be Harley Davidson without the Harley Davidson guy. The brand needs the subculture to exist. And the subculture needs the brand to orient their lifestyle around. Harley Davidson does all different types of advertising. They introduce, they drive trials, they show you how their bikes are different from a Yamaha or a Ducati. But they also do a lot of the fourth type of ad. The reinforcement ads. The ads that say “thanks for being in our club, this message is made special just for you. Because you get it. Because you’re our kind of people.”
Another great example of this fourth type of advertising is Apple’s legendary Think Different campaign. If Apple’s mission is to disrupt the status quo, and if people don’t buy what you make, they buy why you make it. Then these ads cement and reinforce the relationship that by being an Apple customer, you’re a part of this special club of iconoclastic revolutionaries, artists, thinkers, and leaders who have disrupted the everyday for the advancement of humanity.
So my company should invest in brand and performance marketing? Yes.
Too often in the world of marketing, there are two competing camps. First, there’s the brand camp that wants to tell emotional humanistic stories. This camp doesn’t want you to do anything so passé as clicking on a button. No, they want you to feel something. Then, on the other side, you’ve got the performance camp that only wants action. Feel, schmeel, the important thing for this camp is that you clicked. Whether that’s to sign up for a guarantee, request a limited time offer, or buy something while supplies last. But don’t worry, there’s good news for people that don’t like camping.
And that’s because whether you’re creating purely emotional ads that make people feel, or purely rational ads that make people do, the most effective advertising matrix is a combination of both emotion and instruction, education and inspiration. For example, the world’s best brands balance their ads with both pure happiness opening sentiment (above), And imperative calls to action (below).
Be patient and follow all your steps
10 years ago, Apple again asked us to say hello. This time to a new iPhone. They wanted to show us a lot of features in this product intro. They showed us that the new iPhone didn’t have a keyboard. They showed us that the phone had maps, this new phone had the internet and all the great news sites you could ask for. The phone also had apps like video, text, weather, calculator etc. And the phone had music. Plus, the phone had phone. With this product alone, Apple spent a decade introducing, driving trial, differentiating, and cementing brand affinity and loyalty.
When you invest in each step, you’ll better serve your customers
Nobody knows as much about your product as you. It’s human to assume that because you think about your brand constantly that others do too. But as marketers and creatives, it’s our job to empathize and take the time to introduce. Drive trial and engagement. Differentiate, and finally, reward loyalty. You can spend money and go in any order you want, but if you want the most success and impact for your media buy and category position, I’d follow the playbook outlined here. Apple has been following it for 40 years, and they still use it today. A decade after the first iPhone came out. They no longer have to say anything about what the iPhone can do. Because you already know. They don’t introduce you to a product anymore, now they introduce you to the rest of your life.