- You have created a list of words to use in your marketing materials that will target your potential customer’s emotional motivators.
- You have practiced writing headlines, and are working to strengthen the headlines you have been using.
For many small business owners, advertising is a confusing, expensive marketing strategy that delivers mediocre results.
We’re surrounded by advertising every place we look. From TV commercials and Google Adwords to local newspaper and radio spots, everyone is vying for your attention and the money in your wallet.
So, as a small business owner, how do you weed through the big corporate marketing campaigns and your competitors’ ads, flashy design and high budgets, and figure out what you should do for your own business?
In this post I want to show you how to create clear, cost-effective ads and placement campaigns that get results for your company.
Take a look at the examples I provide for you in the body of this post. They’re not going to win any advertising awards, but they don’t need to because they’ve generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for small business owners just like yourself! At the end of the day, do you want an advertising trophy, or thousands of dollars in the bank?me
In this Blog-a-Lesson we will cover:
- Types of advertising
- Print advertising for lead generation
- Steps to creating effective (and inexpensive!) print and classified ads
- Testing and measuring your ads
- Examples of effective ads
Successful advertisements are those that have been designed with a clear purpose, and for a specific target audience.
Successful ads are successful because they pay for themselves with the sales traffic they generate. They bring in leads, promote products and services, and maintain awareness of your business.
So, like all of the lead generation strategies you’ve been working on, effective advertising is rooted in a strong understanding of your target market and how to motivate them to do what you want them to do.
Successful advertising, no matter what its specific purpose is, always:
- provides a benefit, meets a need, or solves a problem
- targets an audience that wants or needs the benefit or solution
- offers a product that is closely tied to the benefit or solution
- clearly communicates the message (the benefit or solution) and is easy to understand
- pays for itself by generating a high volume of sales traffic
Every business should have an overall strategy or purpose for their advertising over time. This will not only allow you to save money by making bulk ad purchases, but will keep you from advertising on an infrequent basis, or in an ad hoc fashion.
Align your advertising with your business growth or positioning goals, and map out a six month or year-long strategy. Do you want to position your business as the expert in the industry? Double your lead generation? Sell a specific product or service? Announce new products or services? Maintain awareness of your company?
Here are some forms of advertising that each have a separate purpose:
Information Advertising is a common form of advertising that features the company in question in a positive light. Be careful not to misuse this form, as no reader is going to be interested in an ad that is too “me”, “me”, “me” focused. Always provide something of interest or benefit to your reader.
Image Advertising is a type of advertising that reinforces your brand name and image. It’s a less aggressive strategy that aims to keep your business at the top of customers’ minds, even if you have no specific message to communicate. It might include running frequent small ads with just your business logo and phone number or email address.
Ads That Sell convince a prospect to make a purchase before they’ve even identified themselves as prospects. These are more rare forms of advertisements, and harder to create. Lead generation ads are a more effective way to generate traffic.
In this post, we’re going to focus on advertising for lead generation.
Ads that have been created for lead generation have a strong “call to action” and are focused on motivating readers to respond.
You may want prospects to pick up the phone, bring in a coupon, enter their contact information in a contest, call for free information, visit your website or visit your place of business. At that point, they enter the formal sales process and you can work to convert them into loyal repeat customers.
Use the emotional motivators you’ve been focusing on the previous e-classes to speak to your target audience, and focus on getting your readers to do something that identifies themselves as potential buyers.
1. Design your advertising strategy. Advertise to your target market in the places they go to most often for information.
Using the information you gathered in your market research, determine the publications that your target market accesses most often.
- Do they read the local newspaper? If so, which section?
- Is there a community newsletter or neighbourhood publication that would also serve as an effective vehicle for your message?
- Is there a local listing publication that would serve as an inexpensive way to test and measure your offer?
- Can you create a YellowPages ad that generates leads?
Once you have determined the publication (or publications) that you wish to target, make contact with the sales representative at each. This person is a great resource for you to use to your advantage – ask questions about size, specs, deadlines, proofs, changes and other expectations. Newspapers often use their own systems for layout, and have their own requirements for file preparation.
This person will also have demographic information on the publication’s readership, so gain access to that data and use it to inform your campaign.
When you are establishing a relationship with the publication, make sure to spread your advertising dollars out to maximize your investment. Publications will often give you discounted rates when you buy in bulk, or commit to a certain budget over the year. Keep in mind that you will need to test and measure which ads are effective, and which aren’t, so try to structure your contract in a way that allows for flexibility.
While you are looking for a good advertising rate, remember that advertising is an investment that you make into the growth of your business. That money is used to ‘buy’ customers, whose purchases become your return on investment.
Ad placement is also an important consideration, but you will have varying degrees of influence over the final placement. Always request placement that is well forward and in the top right-hand corner, preferably in the section of the paper that best relates to your industry.
Advertise frequently – or at least regularly – to see the highest return on investment. There are a number of reasons for this:
- People need to be reminded constantly of your business (even big household names like CocaCola advertise regularly)
- There are always new customers to market to
- The people who are actually looking to purchase your offering are a percentage of your target market that rotates regularly
- People need to see your advertisement regularly to build trust and belief in credibility
Make a plan for regular advertising that suits your budget. You may want to alternate between large and small ads, or between display and classified ads.
2. Write copy for your ad that speaks to the emotional motivators of your target audience.
Use the writing and persuasion skills you’ve been learning in the past two posts, and apply the same principles to writing your ad copy. The next post takes an in-depth look at copywriting; so more help is on the way!
Like you learned in the headline post, the most important part of your copy is your headline. You need to start with a headline that catches their attention with emotional triggers, and then gives them a reason to keep reading and care about what you have to say.
In advertisements it’s especially useful to follow your headline with a subheadline that is equally interesting and engaging. The remainder of your copy should focus on communicating the benefits or solutions that your product will provide, and deliver on any promises you made in your headline. Tell your prospects why they should take action, and what they’ll get when they do. Use the emotional trigger words to hit their ‘hot buttons’ and keep them reading.
A final tip in writing ads for lead generation is about weeding out unqualified leads. Make sure you include enough information in your ad to deter unlikely customers from making contact with you. For example, be up front about price and you’ll avoid dozens of phone calls from people who can’t afford to purchase your offering.
3. Ask your customers to take action.
Since the purpose of your ad is to generate qualified leads, your call to action has to be prominently featured so your readers know what to do and how to do it.
- Ensure the way you want them to contact you is a larger font size than the rest of your contact details, or the only contact method.
- Tell them how to receive what you’ve promised – free information, a special offer, preferred status. Call 999.555.9595 and ask for Ted. Visit www.newco.com and sign-up to start receiving your bonus guide. Come to the store and ask for your membership card.
- Link your call to action to copy that mentions customer benefits and rewards. Phrases like, Call now and start receiving: [list of benefits] are strong motivators.
4. Layout your ad using these guidelines or my easy to follow template.
Remember that it is the strength of your message and the clarity of the layout that will determine how effective your ad will be. Resist the urge to get really creative and stick to a clean and simple design.
Layout should be kept simple and allow the message to come through clearly, not the formatting. Keep all type horizontal, and avoid the urge to get too creative.
Headlines are absolutely essential to successful ads. Create a powerful headline that draws in readers, and make it stand out from the rest of the ad.
White Space gives your reader’s eyes a place to rest and will keep their attention on your ad longer. If you cram too much copy or too many images into a small space, your readers will move on.
Type needs to be easy to read, but also stand out from neighboring newspaper copy. Stick to a maximum of two types of font, and avoid font sizes below 9pt. ALL CAPS and reversed type (white on black) should also be avoided.
Images need to be professionally taken in order to be reproduced in newspapers. Take care that black and white images are not too dark, or too light, and choose photos the will clearly communicate your message.
Color can boost the response rate to your ad by almost 40% over a black and white one, so use it if you can fit it into your budget.
5. Make sure to be aware of and set yourself apart from the competition
Pay attention to what your competitors are doing so you are aware of what they are doing well, doing poorly, or not doing at all. With this awareness, you can make choices to set yourself apart, or improve on your own strategies.
Without copying their strategies (you don’t want to be a “me too” business), look at their messages, layout, placement choices and offers. What can you do to give your offer or your ad an edge? Is there something they haven’t thought of?
You may want to get into the habit of clipping their ads out of the newspaper, and making observations about the messaging or design. Use this information to improve your ads and distinguish your business, but stay focused on your own purpose and messages.
6. Test and measure each and every ad, every time you run it.
Like I said above, successful advertising is advertising that pays for itself.
It is helpful to think of advertising as an investment, rather than an expense. You are investing money in your business and using it to ‘buy’ customers. Ideally, those customers will offer you a favorable return on your investment by purchasing from you on a repeat basis (we’ll look in detail at customer acquisition costs and lifetime value in an upcoming post).
The only way you will know if an ad is paying for itself is if you track and measure the results it generates. You need to know where your customers are coming from, how they found out about your business, and why they decided to take action.
You can use your lead tracking system to do this, and then assess the results at the end of a fixed time period. You can also put codes or “keys” on your ads to indicate where your customers came from. This includes actual codes on coupons that tell you which publication the ad was placed in and in which week, as well as different offers and bonuses: Buy 2 get 1 free vs. Free gift with purchase, or Guide to Home Energy Savings vs. 25 Ways to Save Money on Energy Costs.
Remember, effective print and classified advertising rarely needs to be flashy or clever.
Get into the habit of always asking yourself, “what am I trying to accomplish with this ad?” You can even write your purpose on a sticky note and put it on your computer screen to keep you focused. Then, make sure that your headline, message and unique offer all cater to that purpose.
Effective advertising doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or even cleverly designed. Like all aspects of lead generation, it really comes down to a strong understanding of your target audience, and knowing how to communicate with them.
So, in the next post I’m going to help you become a better copywriter. You’ll build on the skills you cultivated creating strong offers and writing effective headlines, and learn how to craft persuasive text.
To Your Success.