Advertising Techniques: 10 Examples From Drew Whitman

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Ca$hvertising" by Drew Eric Whitman. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

Looking for advertising technique examples? Which techniques are the most effective in generating revenue?

Drew Whitman wrote his book Ca$hvertising to explain why most advertisements fail and how to create ads that actually generate results. According to him, customers are only drawn to ads that address their core human needs.

Keep reading to discover ten examples of advertising techniques from Whitman’s book Ca$hvertising.

Whitman’s Advertising Techniques

Are you pouring lots of money into your advertising budget but seeing no sales? Are consumers paying no attention to what you think are compelling, well-crafted ads? In his book Ca$hvertising, advertising coach Drew Whitman claims this is a common gripe of business-owners but that he can help you turn your mediocre ads into money-making machines by letting you in on one big secret: Consumers are only drawn to ads that address their core human needs to survive and thrive. In this article, we’ll summarize ten of the most compelling advertising technique examples from Whitman’s Ca$hvertising book.

#1: Do a Competitor Comparison

For our first example, we’ll look at Whitman’s competitor comparison advertising technique. He recommends using competitors’ inferior products to strengthen the position of yours. When comparing your product to a competitor’s, be specific about how yours is better: Specificity helps convince the reader you’re right. You can draw a comparison in three steps: 

  1. Warn the consumer of the inferior products other brands are trying to sell them. For instance, you might say: “My competitor will try to get you to believe their cheap light bulbs are just as good as ours.”
  2. Offer an unconvincing argument in favor of your competitor’s inferior products. This weak argument encourages prospects to perceive the competitor’s product as unacceptable. You might thus say: “Those cheap light bulbs may be fine if you don’t mind irrevocably damaging your eyes.”
  3. Advocate for your own position and product. This builds on the customer’s existing distaste for the competitor’s product. “But that’s not how we do things at our company. We believe every room should be brightly lit…”

#2: Move Customers Through the Five Stages of a Buying Decision

Whitman’s next advertising technique example describes using your ads to move customers through the five stages of getting to know and developing loyalty for a product. Customers usually increase their engagement with a brand slowly over time, rather than deciding to buy immediately based on a single ad. This process of familiarization can be broken into five steps, and you can tailor your ads to shepherd prospects through these five steps:

  1. Having no familiarity or understanding of the product
  2. Considering buying the product
  3. Wanting more information about your product before buying it 
  4. Buying the product
  5. Becoming loyal to the product

For example, you can use this advertising technique either by building ads that target customers at all stages of the familiarization process or by building a sequence of ads, each of which targets people at a different stage of the process. 

Other Ways to Envision the Five Steps of Familiarization

It’s commonly understood in marketing and advertising that you must move a prospect from unfamiliarity with a product to the desire to buy it. Others have broken down those transitional steps differently from Whitman, however. For instance, in 1-Page Marketing, Allan Dib says a customer goes through only three steps: awareness, familiarity, and enthusiasm. Creating advertising for only three stages could be more feasible than Whitman’s recommendation to create ads that target five stages. 

Dib further offers advice on how to guide your customer through those steps, which might also be helpful in crafting effective advertising. For instance, to generate awareness of your product, Dib says you must first identify your target market, create a compelling message for that market, and finally decide what the best advertising medium is

So for the first ad in your sequence, you’d determine who’s buying your product (perhaps cycling enthusiasts), what message will most resonate with them (how your gear increases their performance), and then decide where to present that message (maybe via an email campaign). 

#3: Use Aspirational Marketing

For this example, Whitman suggests using the aspirational advertising technique where you align your product with the current positive image your audience has of themselves or the aspirational image they’d like to have of themselves. This is effective and easy because we have built-in perceptions of ourselves—for instance as serious, sexy, or rugged. When you identify those images and associate your product with them, consumers will feel your product helps reinforce their desired self-image and will buy it, claims Whitman. 

For example, if you identify an audience that sees itself as effortlessly cool and unmaterialistic, you should advertise your leather wallets as minimalistic and unshowy.

The most successful image-creating ads focus on commonly desired traits, like intelligence, attractiveness, wealth, and sexual appeal. These are traits that most people consider to be part of their self-image (or desired self-image). 

Show How Your Customer Hasn’t Yet Attained Their Aspirational Identity

The commonly desired traits that Whitman mentions are likely based on the eight core human needs: the need to find a sexual partner, to live safely and comfortably, to be seen as equal to or better than your peers, and so on. This would be why any of those eight needs as part of an image will probably lead to a successful ad. 

In Breakthrough Advertising, Eugene Schwartz adds an additional step that must take place before your customer will align your product with their self-image: showing the customer how they’re not yet aligned with that image

This is only possible when you’re associating your product with the customer’s aspirational identity—the customer presumably is already secure in their current identity. Schwartz believes this step works because when customers feel there’s a gap between what they are now and what they want to be, they’re compelled to fill that gap. If you don’t explicitly point this gap out to them, you risk not motivating them sufficiently to fill it by purchasing your product. 

#4: Use Bandwagon Marketing

Show the audience how your product makes them a part of a group, writes Whitman. Humans have an innate drive to be a part of groups for survival, and if your ad shows them how your product or service includes them in a group they want to be a part of, they’ll be more likely to buy. These groups can be demarcated by age, education, location, politics, and more. 

#5: Use Fear-Based Marketing

In this example, Whitman describes the advertising technique of provoking a fear in your audience that your product can eradicate. People are strongly motivated to avoid things they fear, and if your product can help them do that, they’ll want to buy it. Fears include fear of loss, fear for your health, fear of damage to your ego and self-esteem, and so on.

#6: Use Credibility-Based Marketing

Another example of an effective advertising technique is to use outside sources like customer testimonials, celebrity endorsements, medical endorsements, and so on to confirm the effectiveness of your product, claims Whitman. The reason this works is that humans naturally try to do as little mental work as possible and prefer to rely on cues that signal credibility—like testimonials and logos of organizations—than to do in-depth research to verify credibility. 

(Shortform note: In Influence, Robert Cialdini calls the phenomenon of believing in a product or idea because others do the Social Proof Principle: We subconsciously feel that because others approve of and use a product, it must be good. The Social Proof Principle is a specific type of reliance on a cue—widespread social approval—that signals credibility and lets us avoid verifying that credibility ourselves.)

#7: Use Effective Marketing Copy

When it comes to writing ad copy, Whitman insists that you make your ad copy clear, comprehensible, and specific.

Your audience must understand what your product does and how it will improve their lives, otherwise your ad will have failed at the most basic level to inform your customer about your product. Use simple, concise language, and always use the casual expression of an idea rather than one that sounds more intellectual. For instance, say: “This smart watch will track your health,” rather than: “This wearable tech device will record your physical fitness data.”

#8: Showcase the Most Important Benefits

Whitman’s next advertising technique example is to show the product’s ultimate and most important benefit to the consumer. A product’s benefits are the reason customers buy it, so clearly show these in your ad. 

Importantly, the benefit of a product is different from its functions. Functions are the practical things a product does: clean your windows, for instance, if you sell window cleaner. A benefit is the feeling of happiness, efficiency, or peace the customer hopes to get from the product: the joy of having sparkling windows and knowing these will impress passers-by, for example. 

#9: Maximize Your Visibility

Whitman believes you must get your ads in front of as many readers as possible by making ads big, frequent, and long. Whitman notes that bigger ads garner more attention than small ads, so make your ad as big as you can afford.

#10: Ask Questions

Use questions, including rhetorical questions, to prompt audiences to think about your product more than they might otherwise, counsels Whitman. Rhetorical questions aren’t always effective as selling tools, and some feel they never reliably work. However, Whitman contends that rhetorical questions can encourage audiences to simply spend an additional moment thinking about your product, thus cementing its place in their minds. Literal questions can also make readers want to know the answer to the question and continue reading to find it.

Advertising Techniques: 10 Examples From Drew Whitman

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Drew Eric Whitman's "Ca$hvertising" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Ca$hvertising summary:

  • How to turn your mediocre ads into money-making machines
  • 13 techniques to create compelling ads that address customers' needs
  • Why fear is a strong motivator that increases sales

Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *