Be Human: A New Kind of Advertising Strategy

July 22, 2016

It’s mind-boggling to reflect on the number of things we used to have to do manually that there is now an automation, an app, or some other technology that will do it for us. This is true of virtually every sector, including advertising. But with so much technology in the advertising ether, the result is far too many ads that simply fail to resonate with actual human beings. Thus, we would like to issue a plea to those responsible for advertising strategy: please, remember that you are a human trying to connect with other humans.

Human A: The consumer

Today’s consumers are inundated with marketing messages from the moment they wake up and check their smartphones until they fall asleep, either in front of the TV or while reading a tablet. Much of the brute force messaging they encounter nowadays is interruptive, repetitive and, most importantly, irrelevant to how they live their lives.

Human B: The marketer

We contend that the brute force advertising described above happens because marketers base their advertising strategy more on what ads say to consumers and not enough on what they do for consumers.

Human A meets Human B and…magic!

According to Jeffrey F. Rayport, writing in the Harvard Business Review, there are four domains of human experience: the public sphere, the social sphere, the tribal sphere and the psychological sphere. He argues that today’s advertising strategies must map themselves to these domains in order to become something consumers invite into their lives, rather than something they eschew.

Below we describe how each sphere functions and how to map your advertising to them.

  • Public sphere
    • This is where we are out in the world, going from place to place.
    • Advertising strategy: Make sure your ads are relevant to the space and that they offer some usefulness to the consumer, who generally doesn’t have the time in this sphere for deep reflection.
  • Social sphere
    • This is where we humans interact with one another.
    • Ad strategy: Make sure these types of ads pay heed to either a social need or social problem.
  • Tribal sphere
    • This is where we feel as though we belong to a larger community.
    • Ad strategy: This sphere is all about identity, so make sure these ads either address the consumer’s need for such identity or enable them to broadcast it.
  • Psychological sphere
    • This is where language, thought and feeling all come together.
    • Ad strategy: Make sure these types of ads help consumers find new ways of linking words or thoughts, or that they make a connection between the brand and an emotion.

Aligning your advertising strategy with these four spheres will help you create ads that resonate. Tell us what you think in the comments.