How to Use Advertising for Immediate Profits
Why do you advertise?
Seems like a silly question, doesn’t it? Placing ads in newspapers and on the radio seems like a no-brainer way of growing or maintaining your business. You let a group of people know where your business is and what you sell, and you’ll always have customers dropping by, right?
Sure, it’s a little more complicated than that. There’s your powerful offer, your strong guarantee, the placement of your headline, and how you structure your body copy.
But what I’m really trying to drill down to is why you chose to place that ad. What is the specific purpose for each advertisement you send out into the world?
Without a solid purpose – or strategy – behind each and every advertisement, it is impossible to measure what is and is not working. If you placed an ad offering 2 for 1 shampoo one week, and sales for conditioner skyrocketed, would you consider your ad successful? Absolutely not. Sales
might have gone up, but the reason you placed the ad was to speed sales on shampoo, which didn’t happen.
The point is that each and every advertising dollar should be spent with purpose, focused on a desired outcome and relevant to the big picture. Advertising is expensive! What’s the point, unless you’re making your money back and then some?
Types of Advertising
There are endless options when it comes to choosing which media to place your advertisements with. The media is a broad and complicated industry, with highly segmented readership.
This can help and hurt your advertising efforts. You have access to highly targeted audiences, but you also may spend a great deal of money on expensive advertising that your target market doesn’t go near.
Here are the major types of media advertising:
Print is the most common form of advertising. Ad production is relatively easy and straightforward, and placement is less expensive than broadcast advertising. We’ll be focusing on this form of advertising in detail later in the chapter.
Types of print media:
Newspapers – daily and weekly
Radio advertising reaches a broad audience within a geographic area. This form of advertising can be highly profitable for some businesses, and utterly useless for others. Always consider if there is a simpler, cheaper way of getting your message to your target audience.
Key points to consider for radio advertising:
Use of sounds, voices, tones
Gaining listener’s attention
Call to action
Television advertising is largely out of reach for most small business budgets. Creating, developing, and producing TV spots is a costly endeavor and does not always generate an acceptable return on investment.
This form of advertising generally reaches a broad audience, depending on the timeslot the ad spot airs. Typically, the most expensive airspace is during the region’s most popular 6 o’clock news program, or prime time (6pm to 10pm) television line-up.
There are some cost-effective alternatives to TV advertising that you can implement online. You could create a promotional video for your company, and post it on your website and YouTube, or Facebook, or play it in your store. Be creative with your ad budget when it comes to broadcast media.
Online advertising has emerged as an effective tool for your marketing efforts. Internet usage has dramatically increased, and usage patterns have become easier to identify. This form of advertising also allows you to reach a highly qualified audience with minimal investment in ad creation.
Places to advertise online:
Online media (online newspapers and broadcast stations)
Banner ads on complementary websites
Classified advertising is one of the most highly targeted and cost-effective choices you can make in your overall strategy. People who read classifieds have typically made a decision to buy something, and are looking
for places to do so. This is also a great way to test your headlines, offer, and guarantee before you invest in higher-priced advertising.
Classified ad types:
Daily and weekly newspapers
Specific tips for effective classified ads:
- Pick a format for your ad within the specifications of the publication. Will it look like a print display ad? A semi-display ad? A classic line ad? This will affect how you structure your message.
- Choose the category – or two – that best fit with what you have to offer. If two apply, place an ad in both and measure which category generated more leads.
- Grab the attention of your reader with a killer headline, then list benefits, make an irresistible offer, and offer a strong guarantee. Keep the layout simple and ensure the font size is easy to read.
- Notice how other companies are creating their ads, and do something to stand out. The classifieds page is typically cluttered and full of text, so you will need to distinguish your business in some way.
- Use standard abbreviations when creating line ads to maintain consistency. Ask the ad department for a list of abbreviations they typically use.
Niche advertising can take any of the forms discussed above. The advantage of niche advertising is the super segmentation of each outlet’s audience. Typically, there is a very small market in each niche, and a single publication that caters to it. This is very effective for companies who have no need for broad market advertising in traditional or mainstream publications.
Types of niche advertising:
Internal communications – newsletters, etc.
Your Advertising Strategy
Develop a strategy that is purpose driven.
Know exactly why you are choosing advertising, as well as the objective of each and every ad. Compare the benefits of advertising to other promotional strategies like media relations, direct mail, referral strategies and customer loyalty programs.
Some common objectives for advertising strategies include:
- Generate qualified leads
- Increase sales
- Promote new products or services
- Position products or services
- Increase business awareness
- Maintain business awareness
- Complement existing promotional strategies
These objectives will dictate where you advertise, how big each of your advertisements is, and how often you advertise in each outlet.
Find your target audience.
Before you do anything, get a solid handle on who your target market is, and each of the segments within it. Think about demographic factors like age, sex, location and occupation, as well as behavioral factors like spending motivations and habits.
The composition of your target audience will be the deciding factor when choosing which media to advertise with, and what to say in each of the advertisements.
Decide on a frequency.
The frequency of your advertising campaign will depend on a number of factors, including budget, purpose, outlet, results, and timing. You may wish to publish a weekly ad that includes a coupon in your local
paper. Or, you may only need to advertise a few times a year, just before your peak seasons.
Establish an advertising schedule for the year, or at least each quarter, and plan each advertisement in advance. This will ensure you are not scrambling to place an ad at the last minute, and that each ad is part of an overall proactive strategy instead of a reactive one.
Choose your outlets.
Decide where you are going to advertise and how often in each outlet. You may wish to choose a variety of media to reach several target audiences, or just a large daily newspaper where the most number of people will see it.
It is a good idea when you are starting a new campaign to test its effectiveness in smaller, less expensive publications. Based on the results, you can make changes to the ad and place it in the more expensive outlets.
Remember that although budget is a large factor when deciding on advertising mediums, it is entirely possible to implement a successful ad campaign with minimal cost investment. The key is to make sure that each dollar you spend is carefully thought through – and that your ads are placed in publications that will reach your ideal customers.
Maximize your ad spend with bulk purchases.
If you plan to advertise in a specific publication several times in a given time period, you will benefit from a meeting with the sales representative to review your needs. Often, media outlets will offer discounted rates for multiple placements.
Remember that one company may own several media outlets – including TV, radio, and online media. Ask your sales rep for other discount opportunities when advertising within the ownership group.
Remember to test and measure
How will you know if your campaign is successful if you don’t test and measure the results? The only true mistake you can make in advertising is neglecting to track and analyze the results each ad generates.
Get in the habit of keeping a copy of each ad, and record all the details of the placement, including publication, cost, date, response rate, and conversion rate. Many publications will mail you a clipping of your advertisement with your account statement, but don’t rely on this as a clipping service.
Evaluate the effectiveness of each ad you place, and learn from what isn’t working. If you are advertising in several outlets, make sure asking customers where they saw your ad is part of your incoming phone script and sales script. You will need to monitor not only what types of ads work the best, but also where the ads generate the highest response.
Creating Your Advertisement
You don’t need to rely on professional copywriting or design assistance when crafting advertisements from your business. Spend your time and resources on what you are saying, ensure the ‘how you say it’ is clear, clean, and easy to read.
- Take at least half of the time you spend creating your ad, and focus on the headline. Your headline will be the difference between your ad getting read – or not. Boldface your headlines for impact.
- You have about five seconds to grab the reader’s attention, so create a headline that sparks curiosity, communicates benefits, or states something unbelievable.
- The purpose of your sub headline is to elaborate on your headline, and convince the audience to read the body copy. All the rules of headline writing apply. If you did not mention benefits in your headline, do it in your sub headline. Clearly tell the reader what is “in it for them,” and get them reading on.
- Choose your words wisely – you don’t have room for lengthy paragraphs. Use bullet points to convey benefits wherever possible,
- and keep your sentences short. You typically only have about 45 words to convince the customer to keep reading.
- Remember to always include your contact information – phone number and website address at the very least. This seems obvious, but can be forgotten in the design process.
- Choose your ad size based on the purpose of the ad, and the budget you have available. Larger ads are more expensive, but you do need enough space to communicate your key messages to the audience.
- If you place regular ads to maintain a presence in the local paper, you likely don’t need full pages of space. Alternately, if you are launching a new product or service, or having a blowout sale, you will want to buy more space to increase the potential impact.
- Graphics should comprise about 25% of your total ad space, and more if you have a small amount of copy. Avoid drawings and clip art. Photographs will generate a better response. Don’t underestimate the importance of white space. Give the reader space to “rest” their eyes between headlines and body copy paragraphs.
- Choose clean fonts that are easy to read. Times New Roman and Arial are effective, simple choices. If you use two fonts in your advertisement, make sure you do not combine serif and sans serif fonts, and you keep consistency amongst headers and body copy.
- Ensure that none of your copy is smaller than 9pt. Your audience won’t take the time or spend the effort to read tiny copy.