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Marketing Tips For Small Business - Advertising That Works, Part I

Have you ever seen an ad on television that was beautiful, slick, and stylish but didn't fit the product? How about a magazine ad that, though gorgeously photographed, didn't make it clear what was being sold? Or have you heard a catchy radio ad that neglected to give contact information? If you pay attention, you'll notice these money-wasting advertisements in all types of media.

If a corporation puts out a bad advertisement, the marketing department will have the resources and budget to make a mid-course correction (sometimes). Often the thousands of dollars a small business puts into an advertising promotion are the bulk of the marketing budget for the entire year (usually). There's no money, time or resources for a do-over if the ad doesn't bring in customers. Small business people simply can't afford to spend money on expensive ads that don't work.

Preparing an effective ad is harder than it looks, but even the smallest business can produce an ad that works if some simple rules are followed. Following are four tips you can use to create a great ad for your business, regardless of your budget, marketing experience, or the media used:

1. State the Product or Service Clearly

Make it absolutely clear what product or service you are selling. Keep it simple and honest. Instead of advertising "meticulously crafted, threaded fastening accessories" just say, "best steel wing nuts." Don't make it hard for the customer to pinpoint what you're selling and don't overdo the flowery descriptions.

2. Use a Call-For-Action Phrase

Forgetting the call-for-action is the biggest mistake I see in small business advertising. A call-for-action is a short sentence telling the customer how to get the product or service, such as "call us for a free sample," "order online at," "get Product X at these fine retailers." The call-for-action is important because it reinforces the customer's decision to buy and gives specific instructions. Without a call-for-action, a certain number of customers will change their minds almost instantly, as their attention is drawn elsewhere. Others will ignore the ad unless you make it clear you want their business by telling them exactly how to spend their money.

3. Check for Correct, Complete Contact Information

You must include a phone number, address, and/or website (preferably all three). Triple check to make sure the information is correct. This sounds obvious but consider this real-life case: A plumbing company in my hometown advertised 24-hour service but only put the number of the main office in their telephone directory ad. The office was only open 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. That was little use to someone with a leaking hot water heater at 2:00 a.m. The plumbing company also had a website where, with some digging, a desperate homeowner could ferret out the 24-hour service number?but what customer is going to spend time hunting the number down when he's up to his ankles in standing water?

4. Sell the Benefits

I often see ads that try to sell the customer on the features of a product or service rather than the benefits to the customer. What's the difference? Features describe the product or service; benefits tell the customer how those features will help him or her. Let's take a common product like bread. Say you're selling a special kind of nutrition-packed wheat bread (it was granny's secret recipe). You could list some of the features of this wonderful bread in your ads:

Contains 3 times the usual vitamin D and calcium

Extra potassium

Uses only rolled oats

(That all sounds very healthy, but I don't know how eating more of those things will do me any good. Besides, I like my usual brand of wheat bread. I pass by your delicious, nutritious wheat bread and buy the same supermarket bread I've eaten since I was a kid.)

Now let's state those features as customer benefits:

Builds strong bones and teeth

Helps control high blood pressure

Lowers cholesterol

(I didn't know I could lower my blood pressure by eating a different brand of bread. That's sure sounds easier and tastier than taking supplements. I pick up a loaf, and some of your whole-grain dinner rolls, too.)

Translating the features of wheat bread into benefits isn't that difficult. What if you have a very complicated product or service? Drilling down to the benefits can still be done quite easily. When I get stuck writing up a benefits sheet, I filter everything through this phrase: "What's in it for me?"

These four marketing tips are a great place to start when preparing your advertisement. See Marketing Tips For Small Business - Advertising That Works, Part II, for more tips and insider tricks.

Segarin Monk is a marketing specialist promoting social betterment programs for governments and non-profit organizations. He believes in high-integrity, pass-it-on, pay-it-forward marketing. See more articles from this author at:

Todays News by officejax free advertising and ad exchange solutionsMORE RESOURCES updated Sun. March / 18 / 2018

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Google Bans Cryptocurrency Advertising, Ripple Loses Lawsuit: Best of the Week - Finance Magnates (blog)

Finance Magnates (blog)

Google Bans Cryptocurrency Advertising, Ripple Loses Lawsuit: Best of the Week
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The authorities did not release the details of the alleged offenders, but the move is seen as being part of a wider crackdown. Google bans cryptocurrency advertisement. People had been suspicious for some time, but last week it was confirmed: Google is ...

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Raising transparency in the online advertising ecosystem - Science Daily

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Science Daily
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What Monkeys Can Teach Us about Advertising - Scientific American (blog)

Scientific American (blog)

What Monkeys Can Teach Us about Advertising
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As early as the 1870s, companies like Pearl Tobacco and later, W. Duke & Sons, employed social advertising, showcasing nude or partially exposed women on posters and trading cards. Although the images had no direct link to the products, sales increased ...

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TV advertising is free from bots and other forms of fraud that wreak havoc on the digital ecosystem. Will it continue to stay that way? Find out how two companies are working to make sure it will.

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Street art goes corporate: Inside the "art first" approach to outdoor advertising - CBS News

CBS News

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Google Bans Bitcoin Advertisements in Policy Change - New York Times

New York Times

Google Bans Bitcoin Advertisements in Policy Change
New York Times
SAN FRANCISCO — Google is joining Facebook in banning advertising for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Google, the largest provider of digital advertising on the internet, announced on Tuesday that it plans to change its advertising policy for ...
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Life after Ford: Top advertising man Toby Barlow launching new venture - Detroit Free Press

Detroit Free Press

Life after Ford: Top advertising man Toby Barlow launching new venture
Detroit Free Press
One of metro Detroit's best-known advertising and marketing gurus is launching a new venture a year after losing his role as one of Ford Motor's top ad guys. Toby Barlow left the WPP agency last February after spending 15 years with the organization ...

Google will ban all cryptocurrency-related advertising - CNBC


Google will ban all cryptocurrency-related advertising
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