Advertising secrets

Of all the ways to waste money on Marketing, advertising seems to be everyone’s favourite – so today we’re looking at how to get better results from your advertising.

First – be aware that there are many more effective ways to market than just advertising. In my experience, many businesses depend too heavily on advertising, when there are many more effective ways to market. In addition, advertising can be one of the most expensive marketing options. So I would always look at more cost effective marketing strategies before we get to advertising. But if you are advertising already, or plan to in the future, here are some basics on what works and what doesn’t.

First of all, stop any advertising that isn’t working.

That may sound ridiculously obvious but you would be amazed at how many people are running ads just because that’s what their business has always done and they don’t really know whether the ads are working.

Secondly, you wont know whether the ads are working unless you test and measure all of your advertising. I spoke about testing last time – but it’s so important. So many businesses just allocate a certain amount of money to an advertising budget, spend the money every year…and they’ve only got a vague sense of whether the ads are working or not. This is crazy. If your ads are working, you want to roll them out on a larger scale. If they’re not, STOP and use the money on one of the dozens of other marketing strategies that can bring you a 100 or 200 or 300% return on your investments.

Third, only run ads that are going to produce a response. This is known as direct response advertising. The other form of advertising is institutional (or brand) advertising. This is what Coca-Cola and McDonalds engage in. It’s designed to build and sustain awareness of their brand. If you’re in a small or medium sized business, brand advertising is almost certainly a huge waste of money.

Unless you’re a global multi national, the purpose of your ads must be to produce a response. Smart marketers are ruthless in only creating and paying for ads that produce a response – a profitable response.

In the ad itself the most important element is the headline. The headline is either the heading that goes at the top of the ad or if there’s no heading it’s the first words of the ad. The headline needs to grab peoples’ attention. One change in a headline can produce a 50 -100% increase in response. (TIP: If the headline of your ad is currently the name of your company, you can almost certainly increase the response rate by changing the headline.)

The copy of your ad needs to be a personal communication to the individual reading it. And it needs to be about them. It needs to address their needs, desires and fears and it needs to constantly communicate the benefits of what you are offering. At the end of the ad you need a call to action. Tell people exactly what they need to do to follow through and make it easy for them to do so.

Here are some other fundamentals of advertising: Don’t advertise on a left hand page. This has been tested again and again. When you read a publication, your eyes are drawn to the right hand page as you flick through, so statistically more people will see your ad if it’s on the right hand page.

Never pay the full rate for advertising. Most advertising rate cards are far too high and you can always negotiate. If you’re a small business remember that large companies who use ad agencies are buying based on the readership or audience levels rather than the rate card – so haggle and negotiate. If you can pay 20 or 30% less for your advertising it can sometimes turn an unprofitable ad campaign into a successful one.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is advertising in publications just because their competitors are in them. Don’t for a minute think that all your competitors are there because their ads are producing great results. They’re more likely to be there because everyone else is and most of them wont have a clue whether their ads are working. The only criteria for advertising anywhere is if the ad produces great results for you.

Once again, my experience is that many businesses are wasting money on ineffective advertising when they could be getting a much better return on other forms of marketing (Direct Mail, Telephone Marketing, Direct Sales, Email, Internet, Referrals, Strategic Alliances etc) But if you do it well and test and experiment, advertising can become a highly profitable element of your marketing mix.

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