Over the years I cannot tell you the amount of times we hear “well so and so publication will create an ad for me for free.” Well I think it’s time that many of the unseasoned business owners read what could be happening. (For those still using print.)
It’s true that many publications will throw in an ad design included in the price but you could be losing much more then money when you allow a publication to create an ad for you, it could be a loss of sales, brand recognition and more.
The problem is that usually a publication has a handful of graphic designers that are creating ads all day for numerous advertisers in numerous industries. Very few of the ads if any, they create are scrutinized by an experienced marketing person. If they look good to the designer then they are sent to the advertiser who does not know a thing about the proper format of an ad. Then, as long as their logo is the largest thing on the ad most times they are happy. The publication gets paid and the client waits for the sales to roll in, but that does not happen? Here is why.
Many of the graphic designers are so over worked and inexperienced and probably under paid that all the ads start to look the same. Big logo on top. No compelling copy. Two big coupons and a small call to action. Usually the colors are off and it all looks like two pounds of baloney in a one-pound bag. The ad might get a few calls but not even close to what it should be pulling. Since it gets a few calls the advertiser thinks the ad is working and the ad space salesperson talks them into running the same ad again. No return on investment (ROI) is calculated, just a rash reactive decision to “keep it in as is”.
Some easy fixes.
If you can’t run it at least 9 or more times then save your money.
Frequency is one of the most important factors in advertising. Just because you place an ad today does not mean that the customer is ready to buy today. You have to keep it in. Make singular tweaks and test, test, test.
Never put your (professionally designed) logo first.
All of your ads should have a strong benefit based headline that speaks to the reader’s emotions. The logo can go at the bottom to the right of the phone number. The main reason is that no one cares who you are; they only care what’s in it for them? (How many times have you heard that but still do nothing about it?)
Use the right images.
Create your ad with your customer demographic and psychographic (more on that later) in mind. Once you know your demographic then use an image to reflect that type of customer. If your demographic is women between the ages of 35 – 45 with kids then find an image with a woman 35 – 45 years of age with kids. Keep the pictures of your truck in your wallet. If you have an actual product picture then also use that in the ad with a caption of what it is. Many people just read the headline, caption and call to action.
Don’t be afraid to use a lot of benefit-based copy.
When you write the text for your ad it must contain benefit based copy. Most people do not purchase anything based on the features. The benefits that the features produce are what they are buying. So if you need an extra couple of words to get that across then do it. Less is not more in advertising.
Use a strong call to action.
Call today! Call now! Supplies are limited call today! Be the first 25 callers and get a free (put something here)! You get the idea.
Make sure your website address is clear.
Your website address should not be buried in the ad in a very small font. In addition, you should always try to have a dot com. Just the other day a client of ours was reading his own address to me and read it as dot com even though it is a dot net.
Create a strong brand campaign, not just an ad.
In my experience clients that have a consistent look and feel to their ad campaign almost always do better then those that do not. Colors and design matter.
Work with an advertising and marketing agency.
I know you think that advertising agencies are expensive and some are but many advertisers don’t realize that they control the budget. And if you use a non-commission advertising and marketing agency it can save you thousands since many of the same publications your advertising in gives a average if ten to fifteen percent commission to the agency. Our company (and I am sure others) does not take it. It is passed on to clients as a savings. The math is easy. You are advertising in a magazine that costs $3,000 per month gross. They give a 15 percent commission to the agency ($450.00), the campaign costs you about $1,000.00. You place your ad for at least nine times. You save $3,050.00! Then after testing this campaign and making sure it is bringing a (ROI) it can be used again. Saving even more money.