Before you can advertise effectively, you need to answer these important questions.
By Roy H. Williams (May, 2004)
Q: What is the best advertising plan?
A: It depends . . . These are the hard questions you need to answer:
1. What can you say that matters to your customer? Consider the following: I’m your prospective customer. I know you want my business, but why should I care? What’s in it for me? Most ads are written under the assumption that the reader, listener or viewer has a basic level of interest and is paying close attention to the ad. But customers tend to ignore all ads that do not speak directly to them. Your first task is message selection.
2. Can you say it persuasively? Most ads are ineffective because the writer was trying to say too much, include too much and be too much. Fearful of leaving someone out, these writers write vague, all-encompassing ads that speak specifically to no one. For example, “We Fix Cars” is a terrible headline for an ad.
3. What is the urgency of your message? If you want an ad to produce immediate results, your offer must have a time limit. This technique will simultaneously work for and against you. On one hand, customers tend to delay what can be delayed, so limited-time offers could generate traffic more quickly since the threat of “losing the opportunity” is real. On the other hand, customers have no memory of messages that have expired and short-term messages are erased from our brains immediately. Therefore, it’s extremely difficult to create long-term awareness with a series of limited-time-offer, short-term ads.
4. How long is the purchase cycle? The length of time it will take your advertising to pay off is tied to the purchase cycle of your product(s) or service(s). For example, ads for restaurants work more quickly than ads for sewing machines, because a lot more people are looking for a good meal today than are looking for a machine that will allow them make their own clothes. Likewise, an ad for a product we buy often will produce results faster than an ad for a product we buy only once a year. Remember, a customer first has to be exposed to your ad often enough to remember it, then you have to be patient and wait for that customer to need what you sell.
Sales, advertising and marketing seem to always be the early targets for business owners navigating recession. Take a fresh look at existing customers and new markets…
One approach is to ramp up sales efforts. As customers become coy, you must pursue them more energetically.
Now that competitors may be marketing less, you also have a chance to grab market share. Says Norm Stoehr, founder and CEO of Inner Circle International Ltd., a Minneapolis-based organizer of entrepreneur peer groups, “Everyone else is in a fetal position, waiting for the recession to play itself out. Now is the time for the bold ones to step forward.”