6 Things Advertisers Can Learn From ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’

Sure, the majority of the 15 million people who have bought How to Win Friends and Influence People since its first publication in 1936 have read it to improve their relationship-building skills. But I’d venture to say that How to Win Friends and Influence People was one of the best marketing books I’ve ever read. Here is a shortlist of 6 truths that can relate to creatives, planners and account managers in the advertising industry that I took away from reading Dale Carnegie’s world renowned self-help classic.

“Merely stating the truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, dramatic. You have to use showmanship… you will have to do it if you want attention”

This encapsulates the art of advertising perfectly. Effective advertising is purely and simply the skill of presenting a product in a compelling, creative and engaging way. Contrary to popular belief, advertising isn’t about lying, deception or mind-control. What separates the best from the rest is how effectively advertisers create narratives around their client’s brands in order to connect with target consumers. And all this needs to be achieved in a way that is ‘showman-like’ enough to command attention in a world crowded with advertising noise.

“Arouse in the other person an eager want”

 Consumer wants and needs are what make the marketing world go around. At the end of the day, advertisers are in the business of creating strong wants and desires in their target consumers. These wants need to be strong enough for consumers to get up, go out and buy the particular product on offer. It’s very difficult to communicate in a way that puts the spotlight on a particular need (often needs that a person didn’t even know they had) and it is the only the very best advertisers that can achieve this effectively.

“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity”

People buy stuff based on the way they feel, not the way they think. We’re all guilty of post-purchase rationalisation whereby we try to justify the purchase we made because we ‘felt like it’ by reeling off all the logical reasoning we can muster. Effective ads hit both the head and the heart of consumers but ultimately the emotional attachment consumers have to brands is the main driver of the buyer decision process.

“People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves – morning, noon and after dinner”

People buy into the image upgrade they receive from purchasing your product. Consumers don’t care about how big and badass you are – they just want a solution that will help them along on their journey to becoming their ideal self. They don’t give a rip about how many countries you operate in, how many employees you have or why you’re so fantastic. They care about how you can make them fantastic. Great advertising communicates how a product can help someone become the person they aspire to be.

 “In order to change people, appeal to their nobler motives”

Carnegie explains that there are two reasons that people behave the way they do. The first is the reason that they think would sound good to others. The second is the real reason. Advertisers need to appeal to the nobler motive, i.e. the one that people use to explain their purchase choices and paints them in the most positive light in the eyes of others.

 “The way to get things done… is to stimulate competition”

‘Gamification’ is a term that has been used increasingly more over the last few years. Everybody loves the thrill of winning. Advertisers can harness this innate desire and leverage it to drive engagement with their client brands. This is particularly true in the digital age where different tools make it easier than ever to deliver promotions, sweepstakes and competitions. I worked at an agency where this competitive element was the core of the promotions campaigns we delivered to client brands. We would set up digital touchscreens at different events and people would queue for ages to have their chance at winning one giveaway every hour or to enter the prize draw. All the while people were engaging with our client brands, providing valuable consumer insights and leaving with positive brand associations from the thrill of the competition.

If you’re an advertiser, businessperson or human being I’d highly recommend you buy yourself a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People too.



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