So you spent good money on an ad, put it in a magazine or
newspaper, and waited patiently for phone calls that didn't materialize.
You're upset: you feel that you've wasted money and time, and now you're
convinced that advertising doesn't work.
Advertising does work. Every day. So before you kick away advertising
(or websites, or brochures, or any other marketing medium), first
consider which of these four basic reasons applies to your effort
: Your ad wasn't created to appeal
sympathetically to the correct customer need.
You can't force a sale, as much as you might
want to. Your best, most reliable, most profitable customers come to your
business because you meet particular needs that your competitors don't. Simple
as that. These needs may be material, psychological or emotional, but when they
present themselves, their owners come to you. The goal of
advertising is not to pitch a sale, but to establish name and brand recognition
for your company by associating your name with your ability to meet special
customer needs. This helps promote that "good gut feeling" that your best
customers have about you but can't really explain. If
your ad isn't built around the right specific customer needs - not wants, not
desires, not self-image, but needs - then it's almost doomed to fail.
Your ad doesn't establish your own credibility for meeting customer needs.
Etch this on your forehead: Credibility begins with evidence of
understanding. It's not enough to hit on the right need.
You have to demonstrate in some way that you truly understand and can meet it.
This step doesn't have to be fancy, and is often very subtle, sometimes
involving no more than certain writing, visual design or layout decisions.
If your customers need a strong, professional company, your ad should reflect
that. If they need to know that you come highly recommended, or that you have a
certain degree of experience, or that your services are unique to your area,
that should somehow be a part of your advertising. Just
don't overdo it, turning your ad into a sales pitch. Provide just enough
credibility to satisfy those customers looking for it. Save the rest for your
other marketing efforts. Your ad wasn't placed in an
appropriate medium that offered regular exposure to the specific customers you
serve. If your business sells luxury cars, the most
carefully designed ad in the world won't accomplish a thing printed in a free
newspaper that specializes in thrift classified ads. That's not an appropriate
medium for your service, and your best customers aren't looking for you there.
If your ad properly recognized and appreciated your customers' needs,
consider the possibility that the ad appeared where it wasn't appropriate. Why
were your best customers looking for you there? How does your choice of medium
speak to your credibility for meeting your customers' needs
? Consider time as well as position: a
swimwear ad would face an uphill climb if it ran in a Michigan newspaper in
December. Remember that customer needs often change as the seasons change.
You expected too much from your ad. If the ad is
solid, and the medium is appropriate, then the problem is you.
Advertising alone doesn't revolutionize profits. Like all marketing tools,
advertising is a precision instrument, an individual tool designed to perform a
specific task. Relying on only advertising - or only networking, or only cold
calling, or only a website - to promote your business makes as much sense as an
auto mechanic who uses only a hammer to fix your car.
Since human beings are complicated, so are sales problems. Complicated problems
require the skilled collaboration of multiple tools, of which traditional print
advertising is only one. The role of advertising in a
modern marketing campaign is to establish name and brand recognition for your
company, not to pitch a sale. The idea is to make sure that your prospect has
already heard of your company - and has a favorable "feel" about you - by the
time customer need presents itself or your salespeople come calling. Advertising
helps pave the road for your other marketing efforts. If
you expected sales to double last month because you ran an ad but did little
else, you probably expected more than reality could provide. It's in fact
possible that your ad did work, but that it provided benefits that your business
didn't capitalize on because you expected different results. Next time you run
an ad, do it as part of a coordinated marketing effort that includes the ability
to follow up with the audience that was exposed to it. Take advantage of the
good will that your advertising helps generate. If your
ad is written to appeal sympathetically to the correct customer need,
establishes your credibility for meeting that need, and is placed in an
appropriate medium that offers regular exposure to your most likely customers,
your ad will do that job. Every time. About The
Author Robert Warren (www.rswarren.com) is a
Florida-based freelance copywriter specializing in the unique marketing needs of
independent professionals. firstname.lastname@example.org