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Adworld Conference, Fall 2021 - What we learned

November 9, 2021

Some conferences are great for inspiration; to go away with ideas still resonating and crystallizing. Others are loftier still, where speakers point to visions of the future and ruminate on where we are headed and why. We love these conferences, and the buzz and insight they generate.

Adworld, however, is one we never miss. Adworld is about being able to take great ideas and put them into practice the very same day, and that's why we go. Here are the practical things we learned at Adworld's October 2021 conference, and why we love them.

Ad focus from obscurity to gold

The talk started by differentiating between obscurity and gold. If your business is in obscurity (nobody really knows you yet), then you have to act differently from businesses who are gold (household names that everyone recognizes).

When you are in the obscurity side of your business, you need to focus firstly on Sales. That means:

  1. Calls to action
  2. Building credibility
  3. Anticipating and overcoming concerns

When you are on the gold side of your business, you are more free to focus on the brand:

  1. Entertainment
  2. Shareability
  3. Stickiness

Have you ever seen Apple saying  “Click now before this amazing offer disappears"? Nope, but you have certainly seen them focus on building their tribe through a sense of belonging, almost as if it was a religion.

Nothing connects better than the truth -the meat hook

They didn't call it the meat hook. We were just trying to get your attention, and sorry it was so gross. But there is a hook, and there is meat. Let us explain.

The Hook, as you'll have guessed, is there to get attention. Let's use the Explainer Testimonial Ad (ETA) as an example, as this is something we use a lot in education. With this ad type, you are using testimonials, to explain the benefits of your programs.

Right off the bat, the first couple of sentences should be direct pitches that capture the attention of a prospective student who might want to study with you. This hook really explains what your course or institution offers that makes it different from the rest. Short, sweet, specific.

Then comes the meat (or plant-based alternative). Here is where your testimonials come in, but they should be authentic, and anything obviously scripted or manicured will just ring false. Gen Z and Alpha can see that right away.

That said, the testimonial should ideally mention your institution name/course several times, so that the positive associations between the experience and the place are tight. The review should also address common doubts, and shying away from these will also cause prospective students to just disengage. What are you trying to hide? The best thing about making sure these testimonials are as authentic as possible is that prospective students will really empathise with the speaker, and connection is way more valuable than "engagement".

By the time you reach the Call To Action, the work is already done. Using stilted language, explicitly covering prepared talking points rather than highlighting experiences, not addressing doubts, hiring actors for testimonials (yes, people actually still do that) are all yesterdays' news. Make it true, raw, and authentic.

Getting and holding attention

Five seconds is really what we need to aim at, in a world where screenagers are already oversaturated with content, and our brains have started to filter out anything that is obviously an advert (Do people still use pop-ups? Why?!).

No matter your product, service or niche, we are all in the attention business, and it's not easy. The talk we attended was really focused on this, laying out a 3-step formula to get attention, then hold onto it. It goes like this:

  1. ATTENTION - Usually established with a strong and compelling headline, subject line, or opening line. If this doesn't land, the audience is gone.
  1. BIG PROMISE - Readers will always think, “What is in it for me?” People don’t buy your product, they buy the outcome of your product. We therefore need to identify the pain points and explain how we can solve it better than anybody else. So, we always focus on the big promise, which means on the why and how, and not on the what. And all of this without, of course, compromising on your integrity.
  1. CLOSE - Give people a reason to take action now and not later.  Don’t leave any room for confusion on what you want them to do next, Confusion is the biggest conversion killer. Tell your audience what you want them to do in as few words as possible. 

You might be looking at this and thinking that (1) is a bit obvious and a bit thin. Well, there's more. By being intentional about the language we use, we can really make an impact, and this is not about "clickbait", but about captivating attention with something real and substantial on the other side of the click.

We can use words or phrases here, depending on what we want to convey. For novelty, we can use words like only, revolutionary, never seen before or game changing. Empathy could be conveyed with words like, or or we can help.

For FOMO try join over 10000 people. Who else wants to... or everyone is talking about. Or, that strong connector of challenging or confirming people's beliefs, you could use you already know, It’s proven that, fact or most people know. By always thinking about the emotion or feeling we want to connect with, we can be much more conscious in segmenting our choice of words and phrases. Try it!

Yes we look for more purposeful marketing

In all the talks we went to, we were really encouraged to hear so much more talk of integrity, truth and authenticity running through the presentations and discussions at the edges. Marketing at its heart is pure creativity, communication and innovation, but it should always be purposeful and positive too and a bit of playfulness couldn't hurt. Insert Call To Action here.

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