How To Protect Yourself From Becoming an Advertising Victim.
Be leery of the ad agency or advertising salesman that tells you advertising results cannot be measured. They’ll say that all you have to do is "get your name out there" to build "brand awareness" so crowds of customers come knocking on your door. Believing this can put you at risk of becoming an "advertising victim."
This type of advertising is referred to as branding or image advertising. Branding may work for GM, Nike, McDonald’s, Coca Cola and the other 17,000 large companies, but it doesn’t work for the 45 million small businesses that don’t have the advertising budgets these corporate giants have.
What works for small businesses is response-based marketing, also known as direct marketing. This type of marketing can be tracked, measured and held accountable. You'll know if your ads are working so you can toss the losing ads and increase the ones that bring in the sales.
Ad agencies and advertising salesmen cringe at the thought of direct marketing. They'll say you really can't measure advertising and that advertising should be cute, funny and clever. They'll say you need a jingle and a slogan, and sell you the idea of using expensive graphics. The problem with this type of advertising is that you have no way of knowing if it’s working or not.
On the other hand, with response-based marketing you can track and measure results to the penny. Since you know how much you spend on a campaign, based on the “response” you get, you can tell if it's successful or not.
Let’s say you spend $1,000 to run an ad in your local newspaper to sell your widgets. Your cost on each widget is $50 and you’re selling them for $100 each. This gives you a gross profit margin of 50%.
Now let’s say the ad produced 50 sales. That means you sold a total of $5,000 worth of widgets. Your cost on those widgets was $2,500, plus the cost of the ad ($1,000) puts your total cost at $3,500. This campaign produced a gross profit of $1,500. This is how you can tell if your marketing is working or not. But if you spend your money on marketing you can’t track or measure how do you know if your advertising is working?
The 7 Critical Components Your Ads MUST Have To Boost Response and Put Money in YOUR Pocket.
1. A Compelling Headline: Never put the name of your company at the top of the ad. People don't give a hoot who you are until you can show them you have something of value that will solve their problem. Craft a compelling headline addressing the problem your product or service solves with a big promise and a guarantee. There’s nothing wrong with using a bit of sensationalism in your headline as long as what you claim is true. Be totally honest.
2. A Sub-Headline: Use a sub-headline to "engage" the reader to read the rest of your ad. Start your sub-headlines with engaging words like: "How To..." or "Why your..." The purpose of every single line of copy you write is to get the reader to read the next line.
3. Prove Your Claims: Generalities in advertising don't work-- "Best price", "Best service", or "Best quality" doesn’t mean squat. Your prospects don't believe generalities because every advertiser says the same thing. Be specific about your claims. For example; "The service you receive from XYZ Widgets is top-notch because our staff is put through the Dale Carnegie course before they become permanent employees" or whatever, but you must be specific.
4. You MUST Have an Offer: Never EVER run ads without an offer. There are mainly two types of offers; An information offer, which is an offer for additional information like in a FREE Report or a FREE DVD, etc., or a promotional offer. These are your typical coupons with "10% OFF" or the "Buy 2 and Get 1 FREE" offers.
5. Include a Clear Call-To-Action: Don't assume your readers know what to do next. Tell them exactly how they are supposed to respond. For example; "Pick up the phone right now and call 800-000-0000 and tell Sally or Jennifer you want widgets model XLR-7000.”
6. Split Test Your Ads: Once your ad is completed, create a second ad with a different headline, or offer, or message, and test it against your original ad. Just make sure you only change one element at a time so you know what component is responsible for beating your control (the original ad.) Identify the ads with a unique code so you now which one is performing better. You can even go a step further to identify what medium (newspaper, magazine, etc.,) is performing best.
7. NEVER Assume: Test your marketing before you roll out the big bucks. Never assume you have crafted a winning ad because no marketing is proven until it's tested. Keep in mind that what you and I “think” doesn't really matter. The only judgment that matters is that of your prospective clients, customers or patients. Research and testing is the only way to successfully get inside your prospects head. Once you’ve mastered this, they will spend their money with you and ignore your competition.
When you embrace, study, and implement direct marketing principles, you'll be among the handful of small business owners who have the courage to advertise differently and refuse to accept mediocre results.
A word of caution... You will need to take control of your marketing and do what needs to be done, regardless of the opinions of your peers, competitors, colleagues, friends or even your spouse. The only opinions you should be concerned with are the opinions of people who give you money. Those people are called clients. If you pay close attention, they will tell you what you need to do to earn their patronage, loyalty and trust.
Scientific advertising is based on psychology and human behavior. That combined with testing and tracking will produce results beyond your wildest dreams. This is how you beat your competition and eat their lunch. Branding or image advertising is ok as long as you see it as a by-product of response-based marketing.
In this video, the father of advertising himself David Ogilvy talks about direct marketing. If you think the message is outdated think again... Advertising mediums have changed, but psychology and human behavior hasn't. As long as you are selling to humans, direct marketing will always outperform branding.