The Architecture of Advertising

September 7, 2016

by T.M. Camp

One way to think about advertising is in terms of architecture. When you build a house, you don’t start with the roof or the backyard swimming pool, or even with the interior design. You begin by laying the foundation, upon which the rest of your new house can stand firm.

Building on Your Brand

In advertising, branding is your foundation. And you can’t build a successful campaign without it. In higher education—an area in which Gazillion & One has worked for nearly thirty years—we work closely with our clients to ensure that the foundation is firmly established to support the whole advertising structure we put into place.

There are three pillars that support a successful advertising strategy for higher education. No one pillar is more important than the other and they each need to be in place in order for your organization to thrive.

Location, Location, Location

The first of these pillars focuses on targeting key regions and areas in your market. This goes beyond simply running ads in those areas, but tailoring your messages to speak to the specific opportunities and concerns of those geographic areas.

Baker College in Michigan is a career college focused on providing students with the training and education they need to secure a job in their chosen field. A number of years ago we produced a series of television ads for Baker specifically targeted to key cities throughout the state, speaking directly to the employment opportunities that were being left vacant due to a lack of qualified, trained employees.


By speaking to a specific community, these ads highlighted Baker College’s understanding of their students’ cares and concerns, positioning the school as the solution for people seeking employment and a career.

Vox Populi

There are a million different ways for your organization to highlight the key differentiators that set you apart from your competition. Our entire industry is built on finding unique and memorable ways for your value to cut through the competitive noise and reach the eyes and ears of your prospective students.

One thing that has held true since the earliest days of Advertising is this: Your message is infinitely more compelling to a prospect when it is delivered by a peer. You can brag about the breadth and depth of your faculty’s experience in a 30-second TV spot all night long, but the message is far more likely to take root when it comes from a real student, speaking in their own words about what their education has done to transform their life.


Audience targeting is a subject we will return to again in future blog posts, as it deserves much more discussion. But suffice it to say that the voices of your students are the building blocks of that crucial second pillar in your structure.

Programming Your Programs

The third pillar in higher education advertising is centered on promoting specific programs in your ads. The key to successful program-specific advertising, of course, lies in determining which programs to focus on.

In order to determine this, you need to consider three factors:

  1. Which programs are the most profitable for your organization?
  2. Which programs hold the most interest for your prospective students?
  3. What kind of graduates are most in-demand by the employers in your marketplace?

The spot where these three factors intersect is where you will find the programs in your offering that are (a) Most Profitable, (b) Most Popular, and (c) Most In Demand.

While it may make sense in certain areas or with certain audiences to focus on additional programs, knowing precisely where the core of your opportunity lies is crucial to the strength of this third pillar in your advertising.

Blueprint Before Building

Obviously, this is just a quick sketch of how to approach building a successful advertising campaign. But a sketch can only get you so far. You need a detailed blueprint that identifies every element that needs to be in place and defines how it all fits together into a single cohesive, comprehensive architecture designed to support the success of your organization.

If you’d like to talk with Gazillion & One about developing a blueprint for the success of your organization, contact us online or call (616) 842-7000 to get the conversation started.

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