Before I get into the three primary questions and six key elements of advertising, let’s quickly talk about some of the common types of failing ads. Ads that are too techie, contain too many messages, convey a mixed message, have no proof to back up assertions, display poor branding and are of low frequency don’t produce results. So how do you avoid producing these pitfalls in advertising?
Start by asking yourself, these three questions.
How do I reach the target audience?
You need to know your target demographic before you do anything else. Determine the mediums (e.g. TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, Internet, etc.) that they use when looking for similar products and services to the one you are promoting in your intended ad.
For example, Google Adwords allows you to choose key words associated with your business or product to capture an applicable target market. So if you are advertising a promotion for half off your ebook on pet grooming, you want your ad to appear when people search by say “pet grooming”, “dog grooming” or “pet care” and not for someone looking for “plumbing supplies”. This holds true for any medium where you may be placing your advertisement.
How can I keep my message simple?
Start with the top three benefits that you want to communicate about your business, product or service. Now if you had to select only one of those three, which one would you choose?
A common mistake is to cram in too much to an ad. Advertisements are bit-sized messages (unless you are doing a 30-minute infomercial). The more you cram in, the less space or time you have to properly convey each benefit and the less that the viewer will digest or remember. You can still get the message out about your other top two benefits by running them as separate ads in your overall campaign.
How do I communicate the message?
What creativity will you apply to your advertisement? If you are trying to convey the benefit that your service saves time, how do you creatively show the delineation between the benefit a customer using your product achieves (i.e. what they do with all of their free time) and the other person who doesn’t use your service (i.e. still struggling doing things the old fashion way)?
Now that you’ve asked and answered the three primary questions, complete these six elements to ensure that your advertising works.
You need to grab your target customers’ attention. We are inundated with ads watching TV, browsing the Internet, reading the paper and driving around town. How will your ad stand out and take hold of your target audience, grabbing their attention to read or listen to what you have to say?
Have you seen the latest T-Mobile ad where the company sends a team of pros out in suits going door-to-door to capture business in a suburban neighborhood? Each homeowner shuts the door in their faces before they can finish their message. Then T-Mobile gets the bright idea of sending out the beautiful and captivating Catherine Zeta-Jones to capture the attention of John Q. Homeowner with just a couple of words.
We make split decisions about whether something is worth listening to or a waste of time. Knowing your target demographic, as I mentioned above, is the first thing you need to take into consideration. Then you need to know what will capture their attention. Reviewing your competitions’ advertising can help, too. It’s hard to grab your market’s attention if you don’t create an attention grabber that is unique.
What are you trying to say with the ad – “I have the best price”, “my service will save you time”, “my product will make you healthier”, etc…? Have you ever seen an ad that didn’t convey a message and left you wondering, “what was the point”?
There are some well-branded companies that can get away with not creating an assertion. They can afford to create an ad that simply keeps their brand present in your mind. Chances are that as a solopreneur, you are not one of those companies so don’t create something that is cutesy and doesn’t deliver a message. And even if you are, I still highly recommend that you make an assertion.
Now that you’ve made an assertion, can you back it up with proof? If you say that you offer the best services – so what – everyone says that. However, if you can show evidence that you have the best rankings in the public opinion polls, then potential customers are more likely to believe your assertion. Plug in proof from customers and other third-party sources to give your proof punch.
4. Brand Identification
Whether it’s the name of your company or your logo, make sure that you show it off in your ads and show it in a consistent way. Have you seen an ad on TV or passed by a billboard and caught the quick assertion, but then realized that you had no idea who was making it?
Consistency is king when building a brand. Consistency of logo, tagline, font styles, colors are all important characteristics to keep consistent. You can change your image like Pepsi recently did with it’s logo, but this requires a whole new campaign to quickly flood the market with the knowledge of what you stand for (or still stand for). Changing your logo or colors usually invites the question, what else has changed about your business.
5. Call to Action
Unless you like throwing away your money, create a call to action. You created the advertisement for a reason. What do you want the viewer to do? Do you want them to check out your web site, buy a product on promo, sign up for a newsletter, or call now? Create a call to action and make it compelling.
What medium do you use? Where do you place your advertisement? How does it deliver the previous five elements? How frequently do you run the advertisement? It’s easy to make the mistake of diving into developing the execution and then figuring out how best to weave in the other elements listed above. Execution should always come last.
Don’t waste your dimes throwing up wasted ads. I know that it is never the intention to do so, yet so many companies do. All it takes is some time to ask yourself three basic questions and develop six key elements to make sure that you get the best return on your investment. If you aren’t feeling too confident about your abilities, hire a professional. At least now, you have a scorecard to make sure that you are getting the most out of your advertising campaigns.
All The Best,
The Solopreneur’s Guide