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A well-planned and properly executed marketing program should include a sufficient commitment of capital resources to an on-going, well executed advertising program. Yes, this includes your business.
Businesses spend too many dollars, however, on ads that simply will not result in increased sales and profits. These ads are poorly conceived, poorly written, poorly designed, poorly targeted, and poorly placed.
Sounds like a poor way to do business, doesn't it?
I often ask clients (as tactfully as possible), why they have run a particular ad. I get a lot of blank stares. A few tense moments will pass while the client tries to think of a clever answer. "To get the company name out in front of the public so I can get more business." they reply, with some relief.
This poor soul has just described a lack of a well defined goal, which leads almost inevitably to what I call an institutional ad. An institutional ad can best be described as one which identifies the advertiser and lists address, telephone number, hours of operation, and (maybe) the company logo. That's it. What a terrible waste of money!
Unless your company grosses a billion dollars a year, you can't afford to do institutional ads. If your company does gross over a billion dollars a year...you're probably too smart to run institutional ads.
Every ad you run must result in increased sales and profits and an enhanced image for your company. Every ad should make the customer a solid offer and give the customer sound reasons to buy from you now. Remember, the customer is sitting back and asking, "What can you do for me?" If you're careful to answer that question with a powerful offer and reasons to buy now, you're on your way to advertising success...which results in increased sales and profits.
How can you improve your chances of increasing sales?
Let's look at some profit-producing ideas...
SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP
Very few businesses are prepared or qualified to produce quality advertising. If you spend more than $2,000 per month in advertising, you should seriously consider hiring a qualified advertising professional. There are any number of skilled freelancers who can develop strategy, and create your marketing materials with a keen eye to using proven methods and techniques.
Good advertising talent always pays it's own way through increased sales and profits, improved cost-effectiveness, reduced selling costs, and shortened selling cycles.
If your resources are limited, don't feel lost. There's no reason why you can't learn to write an effective ad. That's what the rest of this article is all about...how *you* can create advertising that sells.
FOLLOW A PROVEN FORMULA
One of the oldest and most useful formulas for ad design takes its name from the opera Aida by Giuseppe Verde. In this case the letters A-I-D-A stand for ATTENTION, INTEREST, DESIRE, AND ACTION.
In it's simplest form this formula serves as a structural blueprint. It guides us to: (1) Get the prospect's Attention, (2) Foster his or her Interest in your offer, (3) build Desire for your product or service and (4) Generate some type of Action on the part of the buyer.
As we expand on each of these elements individually, you'll discover for yourself how to apply the formula to your specific situation.
ATTENTION (The Headline)
Hit your prospect right between the eyes with a magic wand. How? With a powerful benefit headline. The headline is the most important single element of your ad. You have two to three seconds to stop the reader as he or she passes by. You must stop the reader, and interest them in your benefit, if you expect them to read further.
A powerful headline will (1) stop the reader (2) isolate and qualify your best prospects, and (3) pull your reader into the sub-heads and body copy.
How do you write the attention-getting headline? First, carefully review all the benefits of-use of your product or service. Second, take your most important benefit and weave that benefit into your headline. Use action words to describe the benefit to one individual reader.
Here are some examples...
"Save 50% On Office Supplies...Send For Your Free Catalog Today !"
"How YOU Can Create Advertising That SELLS!"
"New! Amazing Techniques That You Can Use To Land A High-Paying Job...Today!"
"How To Design Profit-Producing Web Sites That SELL!"
APPEALING TO BUSINESS EXECUTIVES
When writing your ad to a business-to-business audience you should keep in mind the six key benefits most likely to get attention:
1.Save Money 2.Save Time 3.Increase Sales 4.Increase Profits 5.Enhance Image 6.Boost cash flow
Most other benefits are subordinate to these key six. I call them the"Business Benefit Six-Pack." Show your customer how your product or service provides these benefits, and you will dramatically improve your results.
INTEREST AND DESIRE> (The Offer, Body Copy, Benefits-Benefits- Benefits)
You build interest in your product or service (and the desire to buy) by making the customer a compelling offer and by describing as many benefits as possible in simple and interesting terms.
Tip # 1: Top ad pros always write the ad first, then buy whatever space necessary to display the ad message with clarity and power.
Tip # 2: Words sell...graphic design displays the words in a visually appealing way. Don't confuse the two. No amount of trendy design will make a poorly written ad sell for you. Good design reinforces good copy...it cannot take the place of it! The implication for internet marketers is that content is king. Avoid glitsy, moving graphics that only distract from your message and increase load times. Good design and good copy should work synergistically.
Tip #3: Long copy sells...as long as it's good copy. I call it "greased slide" copy. You get the reader on the top of the slide when he reads a powerful headline, and he can't get off until he has taken the action asked for (i.e., ordered the product, made the trip to the store, dialed the phone, clicked the order/inquiry button, filled out the on-line order, etc.).
ACTION(Ask For The Order)
Now comes the moment of truth. You must ask for the order. Give reasons for the customer to buy now...and make it easy for him to do so. In direct response marketing, this will involve a coupon for mail orders, a toll-free order line, an e-mail address, an on-line order form, a fax order line..any means to make it easy and simple to order!
Take the fear out of the purchase. Give solid guarantees. Offer secure ordering for on-line customers. Show testimonials from satisfied customers.
Show what the customer is going to lose if he doesn't order now.
If you are a retailer, include a map to your store(s) (newcomers love them). Show the credit cards you accept, list the hours of operation, tell them about your friendly staff, include a special coupon or other incentive. In other words, "Roll out the red carpet."
INVEST IN FUTURE PROFITS
So there you have it. A primer on good advertising. If I've piqued your interest to learn more, then check out the other articles available at this resource.
Remember, bad advertising...no matter what the media...is an unproductive expense.
Good advertising is an investment in future profits!
Good advertising and good management go together. You can't have a successful business on-line or off-line---without both.
Thom Reece is CEO of Online Marketing Resource Center [http://www.E-ComProfits.com] and publisher of "Thom Reece's Web Marketing Strategies & Techniques Newsletter". Free subscripton at: http://www.WMSTDirect.com, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
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