Advertising That Works

Advertising That Works

A warning about advertising: it can be effective, but like all marketing activities it must be applied in the right way. Big image building campaigns are for the multi-nationals that already have an image. And be wary of all of those ad sales reps that come begging for your marketing budget to put an ad in another guide or newspaper. Keep this mantra in mind: If advertising isn’t about making a sale, or achieving a specific goal, then don’t do it.

Your advertising should be about performance; your customer should do something following your advertisement, not just acknowledge it with a nod. And that means you must have a system for tracking and measuring the success of a campaign, a compelling message and a clear call to action that motivates your customer to act. By that we mean telling your customer exactly what to do. For every piece of publicity, whether an ad, the yellow pages or an email, you must ask them to contact you, come to your business, purchase a product, refer you or act in some way. Otherwise it’s a waste of marketing money and you’d be better off not doing it.

Make sure to follow these guidelines for all advertising and direct mail (postcards, flyers, etc):

1. Your ad must be in a publication or place that is targeted to your customer profiles.

2. It must have a strong headline that clearly shows the benefit to the reader. What is the biggest benefit that you can give to your customer? Identify it and then put it in your headline. A benefit answers the question: “What is in it for me?”. You want to pull the customer in by having an ad that is based on the customer’s needs and the benefits you provide. Make them want to stop and read your ad because they can clearly see what is in it for them. You may have a great offer, but if no one stops to read your ad it certainly won’t be effective. Just like the news, you read the stories with a headline that is compelling to you. Please note that the name of your business or your logo is not a good headline. Be wacky, controversial, funny, state your offer or guarantee; anything that will make people read it. Use strong phrases such as ‘How to’, ‘Free’, ‘Discover’, and make sure to include ‘You’ in the headline (you do want to talk directly to the person after all).

3. Have a compelling offer. An offer both makes the reader act and allows you to track if the advertisement was successful or not. ‘Come celebrate our new opening with a FREE glass of champagne.’ Your offer should be compelling enough that the reader says to himself ‘Why wouldn’t I do this? What do I have to lose?’ In a word it needs to be irresistible. If it is indeed compelling, then put it in the headline. If it’s a free offer, then by all means shout it out. Everyone wants something for free. However just because it is free doesn’t mean it is compelling. It needs to be free AND answer a need, providing what the customer perceives as value. Make sure that you clearly state the value in monetary terms. Remember, money talks, so impress the customer with the value he is receiving. ‘A free audit’ is relative to the customer. But an audit worth £75.00 speaks to the customer. £75.00 is, after all, £75.00. Have the confidence in your establishment to put it all out on the line. The customer will respond to your confidence.

4. Make your ad look like news or an ‘advertorial’ rather than a traditional ad for more credibility. Educate the reader so that they want to learn more or see you as an expert. “The 5 things you should know about homeopathic health care.” There is a lot of competition for people’s attention these days. You don’t want to look like everyone else, you want to stand out from the crowd.

5. Use conversational language that builds trust with your prospect and great compelling copy. If you need to, get someone to help you – it’s worth the investment to get it right. Have a reason for your offer. ‘ To celebrate our grand opening’, ‘To welcome a new member to the team’, ‘Our birthday’. Create a bond with reader, showing that you understand their issues. Relate to them emotionally and make them want to read the next line. The better you understand your customers the better, more effective copy you can write. Use imagery and paint a picture so that the reader can imagine himself using your services so well that he is almost already there in his mind. Get personal – ad a photo of yourself, not just of the business, and write your advertisements as if you were writing to one person, not to an entire group. People want to know there is someone behind the service, that someone else is thinking about them. Remember – creating a relationship will be a competitive advantage over your competition.

6. Have a clear call to action that tells the person exactly what to do. “Call 222-222-2222 for a reservation.” “Book now, spaces are limited.” Add an expiry date to any offer, which will create a sense of urgency and encourage people to act. People are very good at following instructions, but surprisingly inept if you don’t tell them exactly what to do. Give them clear and very specific instructions – ‘Call now’, ‘Book your table’, ‘Tell your friends’, and tell them to bring in a copy of the ad. The call to action must be clear to understand and easy to do. If anything is confusing or difficult people just won’t do it.

7. Overcome skepticism. Use a guarantee or have a perceived expert speak for you. ‘The best sandwich in town or it’s on us.’, ‘We are so convinced that you will love our work, that if you are not delighted, you don’t pay.’, ‘Mr Jones agrees that we do the best tailoring in town’. Guarantees are very important to make the customer comfortable with the risk he is taking by giving over his hard earned money to try your business. And they show a level of confidence in your own business that is reassuring. While there will be a few people who take you up on the guarantee, if you are confident with your product you will see that the new business will pay for any refunded money several times over.

8. Use testimonials, especially if it is from press, local food critics, or celebrities.

Like any marketing activity if you cannot clearly measure the benefit of your advertising activity then stop doing it and shift your money to doing something that clearly achieves your business goals. Don’t be afraid to stop advertising and regroup. There are many other effective marketing activities that are just as much, or more effective than advertising.