How video can effectively soften shoppers’ objection and quell the ‘hard sell’ nature of banners

How Video is Transforming the Way Shoppers React to Advertising Material

What resonates more with shoppers: a sledgehammer in a glass shop, or a subtle and classic approach?

A debate about the best advertising approach has been raging since time immemorial. The differences between a hard-sell strategy and a soft-sell strategy are well known, and sometimes a little bit of both is needed to close the deal. However, in a world dominated by online advertising, shoppers are growing increasingly weary of being bombarded with advertising material. This brings us to a critical juncture in the way we perceive advertising material, and the way we respond to it. Advertising agencies will evaluate the hard-sell approach and the soft-sell approach based on the merits of each. If an e-commerce site or physical store prefers a specific approach, that will likely be adopted, but will it resonate with shoppers?

In recent years, the Internet has become the preferred medium for advertisers across the board. Most everyone is hooked up to the Internet of Things in some way, shape or form. As consumers, we cannot escape the advances of advertisers on our iOS and Android smartphones, tablets, and phablets. However, many of us have become highly adept at turning a blind eye to routine hard-sell advertising. Advertisers have realized this, and are constantly engaging with consumers for the best-method approach. To this end, think tanks, focus groups and extensive market research are conducted on a regular basis. And the reason for this is to find out precisely what resonates with shoppers and how to effectively approach them.

Shoppers are Evolving and so are Advertising Methods

For quite some time, traditional hard-sell banners were the preferred approach. Today, banners remain a popular choice for advertisers but shoppers are far more discerning now than they ever were. With the hard-sell approach, the question why? is addressed in the headline and the body of the text. This will then incorporate other elements such as the visual appeal to drive the consumer to action. It is generally accepted that the hard-sell approach focuses on decisions that are reasonable and rational. However, if we turn our attention to soft-sell advertising techniques, we see that subtlety, nuance and suggestion are far more effective at setting the scene and creating a desire for a particular product or service. Soft-sell advertising requires gaining the trust of the shopper in double-quick time. When video is used in soft-sell advertising, the shopper typically has just 5 seconds before he or she loses interest. Emotive selling in the soft-sell approach is highly effective when done right, and video is a useful tool to drive higher conversions.

How Soft-Sell Methods Result in Higher Conversions and Shopper Satisfaction

With soft-sell advertising, the goal is positive reinforcement of emotional desire. The consumer will want to feel happy, loved, respected, cherished and appreciated. This is easily created with effective video advertising techniques. The methodology used by the advertiser must be respectful and mindful of the shoppers in question (every shopping niche segment is different). If so, the soft-sell video approach can be the most effective medium for driving higher conversions. Looking back over time, an interesting impressionistic advertisement was created in 1914 by Theodore MacManus. His soft-sell approach discussed the pitfalls of being the head honcho. The company that had commissioned his work was Cadillac, but no mention whatsoever was made of Cadillac and there was no illustration of the car company in the advertisement. The advertisement ran on 2 January 1915 in a newspaper known as The Saturday Evening Post. Little did Theodore MacManus know, but that advertisement became one of the most successful and influential advertising copies in history. And it was a soft-sell advertisement.

There is no doubt that the content of an advertisement – whether hard sell or soft sell – is key. The age-old aphorism: Content is King holds true today as much as ever. Now however, we have technology capable of ramping up the success of advertising material and it comes largely in the form of video. Soft-sell methodology and calls to action are well studied in the advertising arena. Customers loathe the hard-sell approach because they don’t like being told what to do, especially when they are browsing the Internet for personal reasons. e-Commerce sites have quickly cottoned on to this new reality. The successful ones are those adopting soft-sell approach techniques to better understand and satisfy the needs of their shoppers. In order to be an effective soft-sell advertisement, the calls to action need to be 100% watertight. The message needs to hit a nerve with customers in such a way that it drives them to action. There are many such soft-sell approaches that are used in text, with video, and other advertising media. One thing that everyone loves more than anything is a freebie. Discounts, free samples, free gifts for the first XX respondents and the like resonate in a big way.

But there is another aspect to human nature that resonates even more strongly: Need Fulfilment. If the shopper feels that an emotional need, or personal validation will result from a purchase, the deal is done and dusted. Videos are the most effective multimedia option available to target customers wherever they may be. Since the Internet is pervasive and high-speed Internet accessibility is ubiquitous and cost-effective, videos are being used on an increasing basis to reach customers when they are at home, on vacation, at work or during their leisure time. With a video, the soft-sell approach can be created to strike precisely the right chord with the customer.

Video can be subtle, charming, classy and reassuring.

A video of a stay at home mother being overwhelmed by her kids is a great example. Enter some advertising genius:  The juxtaposition of a 5-star idyllic paradise vacation would certainly go straight to the heart of that frustration. Throw in the right CTA and it’s entirely possible to drive home a sale. Videos need to be expertly crafted to strike a balance between planting the seed, captivating the attention of the user, and making them curious enough to click for more information. This is what we are seeing taking place in the advertising world, as evidenced by the extensive market research being conducted by Treepodia and its analysts. Videos are effective at building a rapport with shoppers, gaining their trust and providing them with invaluable information with which to make decisions.

The Right Content for the Right Customers

If video content is done correctly, this form of advertising is no longer seen as an in-your-face attempt at a hard sell – it is actually an enjoyed form of entertainment with a message that wants to be received. To this end, the advertiser must build credibility with the shopper. A high quality online video commercial can just as easily go viral as a dancing kitten video on YouTube. Once this trust has been established, the issue of collecting valuable marketing information such as names, telephone numbers or email addresses becomes that much easier. This can then be bolstered with social media to allow for mass sharing, comments and greater exposure. All in all, the goal is to use video as an effective soft-sell technique to drive higher conversions with shoppers!