Get Your Ads To Work For You!

As a business owner, you should be able to answer the question:  Is your advertising working?  It may (or may not) surprise you how many advertisers will say that advertising doesn’t work.  There’s probably a good reason why it isn’t working… for them.

Here are some potential reasons that advertising fails to generate business:

  1. The ads focus on the company and not the consumer;
  2. The ads fail to get the viewer/reader/user’s attention;
  3. The message is unclear or lost in graphics or animation; and,
  4. The call to stir the consumer to action is missing.

We’l get into these in detail in a minute or two.  We also want to address why advertisers may not have the answer to the question above – they probably are clueless as to whether their advertising is working.  You must engage with your customers and prospects to know how they discovered you, unless you already have a tracking system in place that provides you with those answers.

You can engage your “shoppers” with a tactic as simple as asking them how they heard about you and/or your products.  Most consumers, especially if they are enamored with your products and services, will gladly explain why and how they came to patronize you.  The more clearly you can track results, the better.

On one occasion, there was a restaurant owner who saw an increase in business after he started advertising on the radio but, when asked, had no idea why he had gotten busier since the ads started running.

One client got feedback from a customer who was asked how they had heard about the business and responded they’d seen their ads on TV.  The client was not running any TV commercials at the time.

On another occasion, a volunteer offered that his firm was spending more than $7,000 a year on phone directory advertising.  When asked if he knew how that was working for him, he responded, “I have no clue.”

The lesson:  Do your best to track the results of your advertising.  You should know if it’s working, or if you are – at least – breaking even on the investment you’re making.

Try one method and gauge the results.  If it works to your satisfaction, build on it.  You may want to try tweaking it and seeing if it gets better results, but only if the concept seems like it will work.  There are occasions where you do need to give it time for the consumers to “get it” before making purchases.  Before we get too deep into this, however, let’s go back to the four points at the top of this blog.

1)  Remember the purpose of your advertising.  It’s about getting your message through to your potential consumers so they will purchase your products or services.  Sounds simple, but every consumer is unique and makes buying decisions based on need or want.  You should know which consumers are most likely to purchase your products or services and tailor your message to sway their decision to buy from you.

Consumers could care less if you believe your product is the best on the market; they have to believe it.

2)  Ads must grab the attention of the audience.  Consumers are bombarded by more than 2,000 advertising messages a day – from the brands on automobiles and smart phones to pop-up ads, TV commercials, billboards, text messages, and thousands of other exposures.  If your ad blends in with all the others, your impact and potential gain is minimal.  Think in terms of your ideal consumer and what message or image is most likely to get their attention.  Use it and measure the results!  The attention-getting device (AGD) we’ve blogged about before is intended to get the viewer to want to learn more.

Consumers will go elsewhere if it’s a false attention getting device; you must keep them hooked with relevant content once they’ve taken the bait.

3) Your message must engage the audience with appropriate (to them) content.  Copy sells; art enhances.  Art and graphics create a feeling and can get a viewer’s attention, but the copy or content of your ad is what does the selling.  It should be written, again, from the consumer’s point of view.  They could care less about how many revolutions per second a power drill can generate when all they want to know is if the drill can bore a hole.     Ads should focus on benefits more than features and set the audience up for the call to action.  Getting the viewer to react favorably and buy your product or service is the end result, is it not?  You may tell a convincing story, but if it fails to stir the reader to do something, it fails.

In this era of information overload, use an editor, copywriter, or other resource to trim your copy to achieve the greatest impact from the words you use.  If your words can convey the same message in four words instead of 40, your readership and impact will go up.  Those 20 words could be shortened to:  Brevity increases reader impact.

4) Remember the call to action.    If your prospective customer has been intrigued by your message, there is interest in your products and/or services.  If that consumer has gotten to the end of your commercial with that interest, they are either ready to make a purchase or looking for more information about how they can do that.  If you leave them hanging without a call to action, you have increased the chances of losing them as a potential customer.  The key to a call to action is rather simple:  Do you want the consumer to call, E-mail, stop in, or go to your website?  In other words, what do you want them to do?  Order now! is a call to action, provided you show them how to order now.

Advertising does work, if it’s planned.  Putting together an effective marketing strategy that includes smart advertising is one of the services provided by Brand Irons, where we want you to Brand Your Work and Work Your Brand.

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About Coach

Terry Misfeldt is President and Trail Boss of Brand Irons, a business and marketing consulting firm based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Terry has conducted numerous feasibility studies and prepared a number of business plans to secure financing for clients. Terry and Brand Irons specialize in creating corporate brand identities based on the results of studies and plans to market businesses successfully.