Common sense creates successful advertising

  • 2001-10-11
  • Paul E. Adams
"There are three things in the world every person can do better than anyone else."One is coach football. The second is judge a beauty contest. The third is to write advertising." – Joe Griffith.

To start with, be clear and certain of what you wish to say. Formulate an answer to the question: Why should anyone buy my product or service? A complex answer will be confusing. Moreover, a rambling or too generalized answer will not be convincing. Keep your message simple and clear. You are paying for every word – use the right ones. Test your ads. Rough out your ad message and ask some of your customers for their thoughts. Create your own "free of charge" focus group. It may be surprising what you will find. Listening to your customers may save you from making costly mistakes.

Many effective communicators refer to Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" as a pristine example of simplicity and clarity. Yet, many have little understanding of the importance of clear and concise writing. What good is a message if no one understands it? If you are having a problem explaining in simple terms what your business is all about and why people should do business with you, ask your customers, they can tell you.

Ask: "Why do you do business with my company?" You will surprise them and yourself with your approach.

The foundation of every successful advertising and selling campaign rests with the AIDA formula. Your ad must get the reader or listener's Attention. The ad must hold their attention and get their Interest. The ad must move the reader, listener, or viewer from interest to Desire. Finally, you prompt the sale with an Action command.

While each of these four steps is in a successful ad, they may not be apparent. A headline, a striking photo, or a particular spokesperson, may be the attention-getting mechanism. Getting attention is the easiest part of the process – but then what?

Whatever means you use, it is only a start. Attention is fleeting, the message must be interesting, or you will lose the reader, listener, or viewer. Effective ads quickly move the person from attention to interest. They use various techniques such as curiosity, offering a bargain, appealing to greed, making a last-time-ever offer and so on. When a potential customer wants to see more, hear more, or read more, you are moving him or her to the desire stage. A further explanation of benefits to the prospect may accomplish this. It may be a reinforcement of the conditions that sparked the initial interest. To get action you need an action statement, a command such as: Call Now, Order Today, Valid While Supplies Last, Act Now, Don't Delay and Limited Offer.

Whatever ad medium you are going to use, the AIDA foundation must be present if your ad is to sell your product. You can get lucky and have a poor ad do well for you and supposedly dispute the experts. But why take the chance?

How do you know a good ad? Successful mail order or television response ads are run and re-run. Ineffective ads are canceled. They do not work.

Don't be your own ad agency. Just as you do not attempt to be your own tax accountant or lawyer, don't be your own ad director. Small local agencies can be helpful to your success. You know your product and market, let the right agency package your message.

If you are selling or distributing products for any modest or large company, ask them for advertising materials. Most have professionally prepared advertisements (of various column sizes) ready for any newspaper or magazine. All you need to do is have your agency insert your name and address. You can also arrange for videos of television ads as well as radio scripts for your local AM or FM station.

If you are advertising in trade magazines, reader response cards are wonderful. The publishers of these magazines will mail you a list of all the readers that circle the number of your ad. If your ads are not pulling, you will know about it.

If you are going to run classified ads in newspapers or magazines, spend the extra money to block or border them for recognition. Ads, like products on the shelf in a supermarket, need to be visible. Strive for instant awareness. Test it yourself. Scan a paper or magazine page: What attracts you? Where is your natural eye movement on the page? And if you are going to do television ads, get professional help. .

Lastly, if you decide to spend your precious dollars on advertising, don't advertise to just to advertise, because someone says you should, advertise to sell your product or service. If your ads don't work, find out why. Trial and error is costly.