Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Casual data reveals ad response is quite variable. Some companies report good to excellent results. Yet others say their advertising is consistently disappointing. Poor results often follow from the same basic mistakes.

If you're wasting money on ads, you can turn that around and make space ads work hard for you.

How well do you relate to the "sad ad" story?

Let's say, as an example, you're buying ads in a B2B magazine. You can pick from optional sizes and features. Perhaps you're buying a bigger ad or premium placement. You hope for at least the average response, though past performance makes you skeptical. But after the issue gets published, you don't get any phone calls and your web site traffic perks up only a little bit. You may feel disappointed or angry about wasting your advertising budget. You then ask, "Is there a way to win the ad game? Do space ads work for anyone? How can I get a decent return on my investment.

Winning the ad game.

What you really need is a way to distinguish your ad, to make your message more powerful. The way your ad is written makes all the difference. Great copy makes a visually plain ad more appealing and effective. It's the sales message that entices prospects to make a phone call or visit your web site. Visuals surely matter, but they usually can't deliver a persuasive sales message all alone. Take visuals out of an ad that has powerful copy and it still sells. To power up your ads, make sure the copy sells effectively.

Take a close look at any ads you've run, or planned, with a critical view. For each ad, ask key questions:

What is the selling message and how is it stated?

If you were a prospect, would this ad motivate further research about your product?

Do you see a corny cliche, slogan, or empty claim, but no real selling?

Does the message rely on hype or exagggeration?

Does the ad try to be funny but ends up silly, stupid and insulting?

Is there now selling copy at all?

Ask, "So what?" to every statement in the ad. Is the copy relevant to your prospects?

You'll soon see patterns of wretched ads for yourself. Often an ad is dominated by a company name and logo, when actually your prosects couldn't care less. They have a problem. They seek a solution. They don't care about you. Unless you're running a brand awarness campaign, ads should sell product, not market brand. An ad can only do one thing and do it well.

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To share common sense lessons learned with 40-plus years experience in marketing, sales and as a B2B publisher.