Advertising seems a daunting task to most that decide to venture close. But those fears are often misplaced when it is taken in small parts and viewed from new perspectives. All advertising is, when you think about it, is sales multiplied. If you take your normal sales conversation and broaden the scope, narrow the message, and say it to thousands of people. That is advertising, multiplying your message over an effective medium. Advertising can take many forms, but all forms have some things in common that can improve it's effectiveness and your return on your investment.
1. Focus on the customer, not yourself.
Your perfect customer is looking to solve any one of several problems in their life. It could even be hidden from them, but they are looking for how your product or service will help them. Our job as advertisers is to tell them how we can solve one of their problems. Companies spend countless dollars placing ads that are about the company. They drone on and on about experience, and history, about their customers or research. Honestly, no one really cares. We, as consumers, are looking to make ourselves more comfortable or more happy. All of that may be important information, but when we word it to address the customer's needs, it will produce better results. Focus your ad as if it were going to a friend that is in your target market. Reach out to them, speak their language and address their concerns. Write as though they already know your story, and you have found something they need.
2. Focus on the Benefits, Not the Features
Features are the bells and whistles of a product. Features are facts and figures that describe the product or service itself. The benefits are the feelings and perks received from the product. A feature of a car is it's 55mpg gas mileage. The benefit is the satisfied feeling you get driving past the gas station, or the money you saved going to buy an engagement ring. Did you see the difference? Gas mileage is just facts and figures that reach the brain. But, saving up for an engagement ring reaches the heart. Features are the qualities of a product, benefits are what those features mean to the customer. When you give the reader benefits, you are addressing those things that matter to him. You are speaking directly to those pain points that he wants to soothe.
3. Push Emotional Buttons
We all have emotions, some of us show them quicker than others, but they are present in all of us. In order to push the emotional buttons in your customers, you will need to do some research. Get to know what your perfect customer feels strongly about. Put yourself in their shoes and think of how your offer can elicit an emotional response. Ask why is your customer in the market for a sports car. Does he want to go fast? Or does he want to impress a girl and make his friends jealous? Why is the woman shopping for jewelry? Is she wanting to make an investment? Or is she thinking he will pop the question? Does she want her friends to oooh and awe over the ring? Find out what emotions are the strongest behind the purchase decision and push those buttons over to your side.
4. Give Them Proof
Doubt is Death. Words to write by. If your reader doubts any of your claims, your ad is dead. They will never take action on an offer they don't believe. We must provide proof. Testimonials, reviews, awards, and guarantees are the hallmarks of company bona fides. I invest heavily in testimonials. I ask for them after every sale. When your customers become your best salesmen, everyone wins. Especially you. Your current customer has a chance to give feed back, your potential customer gets the proof they need to make a decision, and you get copy for your next ad. Get some great testimonials (make sure they are real) and use them as often as possible. Share awards you have received. Write a guarantee that turns heads, but be sure to give them proof or you have wasted your money.
5. Stand Apart
Most of the time this is called your "Unique Selling Position" or USP. You need a sentence that sets you apart from your competition. You could highlight your biggest benefit, or tap into your customer's biggest pain. FedEx used "When it absolutely positively has to be there overnight." Dominoes used “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.” After you have this gem written, use it on everything you publish. Make a sign and hang it in your store. Get vinyl made for your car. When your customers digest your USP you will begin to see the benefits of standing apart from all of your competition. Avoid advertising with graphics and slogans that everyone else is using. Be unique, it pays.
6. Make Them Stop
Your ad's headline may be the most important part of your ad. It is the ad for your ad. If people read your headline and don't want to know more, you have wasted your money. When people see banner ads, or read the news paper, or even look at magazines they tend to read the headlines only to gauge whether they want to click or keep reading. Your headline needs to be long enough to give the reader a teaser of the content of your ad, short enough to be read quickly, and strong enough to get them to read more. Prick some of their emotions, peak their curiosity, or offer some sort of news. Maybe do all three. Your headline might be the only thing standing between wasting your marketing dollars and making the sale.
7. Design for the Scanners
The layout of your ad is quite important. If your headline gets them to read more, you don't want to make them wade through tons of copy with no margins and no place for the eyes to rest. Use subheads, bolder body copy that acts as a headline for the next paragraph, to breakup large copy blocks. Bullet points give several facts quickly without the need for reading paragraphs. Pull quotes work well to give the reader an important point in the midst of your ad. Give the reader plenty of margin space and shorter line lengths to help readability. Typically serif fonts are easier to read than san serif ones. Even if your headline makes them stop, they may not want to stay if your layout is unfriendly.
8. Know Your Limits
Telling your customer they can't have what you offer might be a good way to sell more. You are probably wondering "what is he talking about?" When you limit the availability of your offer it gives people a sense of urgency that compels them to take action. Making something scarce also automatically raises it's value. There are several ways to achieve this. Limit the quantity - "when they are gone, they're gone" you have all heard this phrase. With a limited number of widgets you must act now. Limit the time - Given only the next 24 hours to make a purchase is another way to spur action. Deadlines are effective motivators for most people. Limit the offer - When used in concert with the other two, this limitation is very effective. Limiting the offer means customers won't get bonuses, extra add ons, or special guarantees that they would when they act now. By limiting your customers you can spur them to act.
Advertising is expensive. There is no need to waste that money on ads that are ineffective. Thinking through your advertising and taking sensible steps to make your ads better can be the difference between a profitable ad campaign and just a costly one. If you ever need help with your advertising just let me know, I am glad to help- MarkCombs@Cre8iveDept.com.
By Mark Combs, Cre8iveDept.com