What Advertising Media should you use? Media by ELM Appeal

Media Mix by Appeal Type-ELM Model-StratoServe (Originally published April 16, 2014, Updated January 2, 2020)

The ELM (Elaboration Likelihood Model) is a popular way of looking at how customers are persuaded by type of appeal. The ELM appeals are a great way of looking at how you might want to make your advertising media choices. But first a quick re-cap of the ELM persuasion model.

The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) of persuasion by Petty and Caccioppo (1986) suggests that folks get persuaded by one of two routes in the mind.These are:

  • Central Route to Persuasion: The Central Route of mental processing in a customers mind involves logical, conscious, deliberate thinking about a marketing message. Here the advertiser tries to persuade by logical reasoning. You can use data, graphs to support your message. Examples where the Central Route persuasion works are high involvement products. These include high tech products like Computer external hard drive (Solid state vs. not), Face masks ( N95 vs. non-surgical). Also for expensive products like new sports cars where the buyer would like to compare features. The customer decides through her/his head not heart!
  • Emotional Route to Persuasion: Here the customer is swayed by appeals to her/his emotion. Here the customer is convinced by appeals to emotion. You use images, video to pull at the customers’ heartstrings. Generally all low cost consumer products fit into this category including most grocery store items. Some high priced items like critical medicines and medical treatments can have powerful emotional appeal. On a positive note expensive diamonds and vacations are also sold on emotional appeal.The customer decides through her/his heart not head!

If you are an advertiser, then you need to consider how your customer is likely to process the advertising message that you want to give them.  The Media by Appeal graphic with this post is a simple way of looking at what media is best for your message:

  • Television is great for reaching large audiences. If you advertise on TV, your Ads must tap something emotional in your audience. If it does, then your Ad might become viral on YouTube. The “non-thinking” nature of television is one reason that it is called the “idiot box.” Somewhat unfair, because TV is very effective depending on your advertising objectives and budget.
  • Radio is great when you want to reach people somewhat emotionally. The person is driving to work and has the radio on. If your ad is memorable you can expect the person to go back to home or office and check you out on the Internet.
  • Outdoor is effective when you want to build awareness of your brand and have a simple message. When someone is driving fast  and seeing your outdoor billboard- you do not want to explain how to make cake from your cake mix in six steps!
  • Leaflets/Direct Mail can get more detailed. When people are looking for a pizza coupon, they might go through the leaflet you sent out last week. Direct Mail can get really heavy on logic and reading-understanding. Just think of all the material in a credit card mail offer.
  • Magazines are wonderful for very narrow targeting and niche marketing. Someone who subscribes to a cooking magazine is really interested in reading your cake recipe details in a paid ad.
  • Internet Search advertising is relatively recent and fits into the ELM appeal thinking fairly neatly in the logical appeal category. When you put out a Google AdWords search ad ( or any other pay per click- PPC ad on Yahoo or Bing) it shows when someone is actually searching the Internet. You pay for the click and you know that the person came to your website.  A bit like searching for the pizza coupon in the pile of leaflets- only much easier.
  • Internet Banner is more about emotional appeal first. You see the banner for cake mix in a baking web forum and you are taken to the cake mix website where a great offer is made. It is also possible for the banner ad to follow a prior interested customer through other websites as a sort of reminder. Technology allows the ad to follow you around (through remarketing) including on Facebook,Instagram,Twitter,Pinterest,Snapchat, as you traverse the web.

All media have strengths and the advertiser needs to figure out what might work best for their target market and particular message using the ELM appeal thinking. Remember(see our 2013 post) in the customer journey can be over 9 contact points before someone buys.

( Dear Readers, The above post was originally published on April 2016 and is updated January 2, 2021 due to our readers interest in the topic)

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