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The business world is cutthroat, even more so when economic times are tough. Businesses need to use any and all tactics that they know of in order to gain brand awareness and ultimately, to survive. A great product doesn’t always sell itself anymore, which is why many companies are using sneakier tactics in order to get people to notice them. But just how do companies get people to remember their product in a subtle, but powerful way?

People Remember Something Adorable
Not only do people remember something that is adorable, but they also will talk about it as well with all of their friends and family. Seeing something adorable makes people sit and watch and they will listen to what the commercial says, even if it is subconsciously. However, if you need to get a message across, use babies or animals. Think about these recent campaigns.

During the Super Bowl in 2008, a company not known outside the investing world aired a 30 second commercial that depicted a bunch of babies talking back and forth to each other about how they used eTrade for all their investment needs. And it wasn’t just dull, boring conversation, but the babies had a little bit of attitude in their voice as well. America instantly fell in love with them, making eTrade an instant household name. To date, the eTrade YouTube channel has a total of 35 videos on it with almost 64 million views.

Babies aren’t the only adorable thing that melts people’s hearts. Sticking with the financial industry, think about the insurance company Geico. People automatically associate a talking gecko with the insurance company Geico, and the cute little reptile has been the spokesperson for Geico since his debut in 2000. Here is just another example of how people can be swayed to watch or listen to something that is normally boring simply because of an adorable animal or baby.

People Flock to Attractive Numbers
Misleading numbers run rampant in the Sunday papers every week across America, yet unless you are a vigilant consumer, you may find some of these ads hard to fully comprehend. And that is exactly what all companies are trying to do to you. Confuse you into thinking you are getting a better deal than you really are.

Car companies are notorious for doing this in their weekly ads. Many will list payments that seem to good to be true, and when looking at the fine print, they are. They may be advertising a brand new Honda Accord for $189/month, but they fail to tell you, except in the fine print, that you will need $5,000 cash down, take out a loan for six years and have a trade-in worth $2,000.

Another common retail trick that is used is the buy one, get one half off deal, or close variations of it. Right away, you think it is a great deal because you are getting half off one of the products. In fact, you are only getting 25 percent off the purchase price, and you have to buy two items to even get that price.

Sex Does Sell
Whether we want to admit it or not, we will look at an attractive person before we will look at someone who is not considered attractive. While it seems vain and shallow, it is the truth, and companies will continue to exploit this basic human weakness.

You see this all throughout the media, such as in an Abercrombie & Fitch ad. All of the models are seemingly perfect, which conveys the message that if you wear this brand, you may look as good as them. Also, if you have ever watched late night infomercials, almost all of the hosts of the show are attractive women who are showing more than just a little bit of cleavage. This is a classic example of trying to persuade people into buying something simply because of a non-related thing, such as a beautiful woman.

Drew Dunlop is a marketing executive and guest author at, where he contributed to the guide to the best online masters in marketing mba programs.