Advertising for Small Business Pt4: Counter Offers and Combinations

The art of advertising revolves around simple tools, but as the saying goes, never mistake simple for easy. A simple advertising campaign such as Coca-Cola’s “Enjoy Coke” or Coles Supermarket’s “Prices are Down” campaign can take months of work, even years.

Almost no business in the world, big or small, gets away with using a single type of advertisement. Even a campaign like’s “compare the meerkat” heavily uses an associative lead (in this case, the quirky meerkat) to set up their simultaneous offer of “comparing insurance, made simple”. Mortein’s iconic “Louie the fly” campaign works in a similar fashion.

The art of advertising is in the ability for a business to utilise a combination of the three types. Below are some examples of famously effective combinations.

Apple - 1984

The advertisement starts off with a dissociative lead of the dystopian world of Orwell’s 1984. The focus then shifts to an associative lead, in the running woman with the hammer. Finally, the advertisement finishes with a perfectly placed delayed offer.

Old Spice - The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

The advertisement starts off blindingly fast, immediately focusing on the primary influencer of the target market (in this case, the woman buying the body wash for the man). The ad throws associative leads aimed at this market group, at blinding speed and with fantastic humour, then lines up the first simultaneous offer. This is followed by the second set of associative leads aimed and another simultaneous offer. To keep the pace and humour up, the advertisement finishes with “I’m on a horse”.

Dove - Campaign for Real Beauty

This campaign has stretched for many years, and has almost separated itself from the brand of soap. As Soap is a commodity, Dove chose to position itself as far away from a core product offering as possible, and instead focused on “real beauty”, or the perception of using overtly beautiful people in advertising.

The campaign manifested in print media, as well as internet video and television. In each advertisement, the same combination was used. The advertisement would almost always consist of a straight lead, such as “grey? or gorgeous?”, which would then have an associative lead of “join the beauty debate”. This would be finished with a delayed offer of the website at the core of the campaign, etc, inviting customers to participate. The campaign has been going for 10 years, and shows no signs of slowing.

This campaign was also a great example of stance, or where a brand takes on a stance for or against something. This could almost be another article in itself though!

Advertising for your business - Offers and counter offers

Of course, these are examples of big businesses using big, and often expensive campaigns to make a dent in the market. As a small business, you can think of the amount of money you spend on an advertisement as akin to an unfit person going into a running race. You need to know your limits, and acknowledge what your budget is.

Once you know this, the most simple method to advertise a small business is to make an offer to your customers, or if there is an existing competitor in the market, make a counter offer.

An offer is simply a mention of your product, generally in print media or on a poster. A counter offer is much the same, but it positions the brand by saying something along the lines of “are you tired of X? try Y!”.

We could go on about advertising for many more articles, however here is a glimpse at what you as a small business can do to advertise. We hope you enjoyed our series!

Written by David Jackson, Founder and CEO of FundX