It’s Only Common Sense: Advertise Like you Mean It!


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Before you spend your hard-earned dollars on advertising, make sure that you know what you want to say and how you want to say it! Make sure that you know just exactly what message you want to get across and, finally, make sure that your ads are going to move your customers to do something.

Many times when I discuss advertising with my clients, they will tell me, “I don’t know what my advertising does for me. I don’t recall a single customer I ever got from my advertising.” Or they’ll ask, “Why am I advertising? I don’t think I get anything out of it.”

First of all, if you have to question why you are advertising in the first place, chances are that you’re right when you say that you get nothing out of it. The reason for this is that you did not have a well-thought-out plan for advertising. And with advertising, as with everything else in business, ya gotta have a plan!  You have to know why you are advertising, and then you have to know what you expect to get out of your advertising before you even open up the old wallet to spend your money.

So, give it some serious thought. Why are you advertising? What message do you want to get out to the marketplace, and most importantly, what do you want customers and potential customers to do once they see your ads?

Your ads have to say something. They have to say something important, and they have to say it with an intensity that is going to move people. Your ad has to have a motivating message. It has to move the customers to want to learn more about your company. Your ads have to at least take the customers down the road towards eventually buying from you.

There is an old quote attributed to the owner of Wanamaker’s department store in Philadelphia. John Wanamaker is purported to have said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” And I don’t think a truer statement about advertising has ever been said.

Before you spend another penny on your advertising, here are 10 guidelines for developing much more effective advertising and getting more bang for your advertising buck:

  1. Make sure you know your company’s story. What are you good at? What do you want to sell?
  2. Make sure that your message is right.
  3. Make sure that your message has teeth. By this, I mean if you’re good at something, say it, and spell it out. If you are better at something than anyone else, say that too. When you are spending money on ads, it is no time to be modest. Tell the customers what you are good at—hell, tell them that you are much better than anyone else at what you do.
  4. Make sure your ad includes a call to action. It can be a timed offer that urges the customer to buy from you before then end of the month. It can be a directive to visit your website. It can be a request to call your number to find out more. But whatever you do, never post an ad without a call to action. Otherwise, you are wasting your money.
  5. Who do you want to sell to? Who is your target customer?
  6. Make sure you are advertising to the right audience. Once you know whom you want to sell to, find out where they are. What publications do they read? Then advertise in those publications. Remember old Willie Sutton? He was asked why he robbed banks, and he answered with the profound statement, “Because that’s where the money is.”
  7. Sell what you want to sell, when you want to sell it. If you want to increase business for a new technology you have just developed, then sell that. If you are in the quick-turn business, sell that.
  8. Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. Like fine wines, an ad should have time to breathe; let it run for a while, at least long enough for people to see it. Then, change it when it has run long enough. There are no set rules on this. You should just be watching traffic from the ad and figure it out from there.
  9. And yes, do watch the traffic from the ad. If the ad is meant to drive people to your website, your IT person or your advertising media can figure that out for you. If you are asking for the customer to call you, then use a special phone number. Or do it the old-fashioned way and just have your salespeople ask new customers how they heard about your company and keep track of that.
  10. Finally, from this data you can start developing an algorithm of which ads work and which do not work as well. This is a very simple science that can answer that proverbial question of whether or not your advertising is working for you.

And as always, let’s add one more: Always underpromise and overdeliver.

Take your advertising seriously. Think about your ads and your advertising campaign as seriously as you do anything else in your company. In the end, you are only going to get out of your advertising what you put into it.

It’s only common sense.

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