Advertising is an investment, not an expense

As a business owner, have you ever said, “Advertising just doesn’t work”?

As a business owner, have you ever said, “Advertising just doesn’t work”?

It’s easy to blame the media for the lack of success of your ads. The reality is that it’s the media’s job to get your ad in front of their customer base. They do this well.

It’s up to you — the business — to select the right media for their ideal client, follow the principles of good advertising, and then test and measure the results.

To create good print advertising, you should understand the AIDA principle: attention, interest, desire and action.

This principle refers to direct-response advertising, not brand-building. The goal is to use advertisements that make the phone ring or get prospective customers to walk in the door.

So how do you get the attention of your ideal client?

If you’re like most business owners, your headline is your business name. However, the truth is that an average customer does not care about your business, nor does your business name in the headline grab their attention.

Although you may feel some pride seeing your company name and logo at the top of an ad, it does not encourage anyone to read further.

In order to grab the reader’s interest, your headline should speak directly to them.

Include “you” in the headline to address the reader. Avoid using questions; rather use direct statements to lead the reader to your offer. (“Now is the time to upgrade your . . . .”)

Whenever possible, target your audience. (“Attention mothers.”)

Other types of headlines start to get the reader thinking in a certain direction. (“Seven reasons why. . . .”, “Here’s why. . . .”, and “Here’s how. . . .”)

Creating desire focuses the reader on the major benefits your product offers. This is not about product features, but the benefit the purchaser will obtain from using your product.

Don’t get caught up with the technical brilliance of your product or service, as the reader may not care. People primarily want to know WII-FM: What’s in it for me?

Highlight how it will make the purchaser’s life easier, safer, etc.

Finally, end the advertisement with a “Call to action!” Tell your target exactly what you want them to do. (“Have your credit card handy, pick up the phone, and call 1-800-555-5555 right now.”)

If you really want your customers to call, then only include your phone number. Don’t include your address, email and Website. Use the space to make the number bigger.

Decide beforehand which method you want your prospects to use, then stick to one. Keep it simple.

Testing and measuring is the most important follow-up any business can do. Ask everybody who walks through the door where they heard about you. Including a coupon or unique offer in your campaign will collect results.

Track and tally the data to help you determine whether the initial ad is getting results. If not, then change/tweak it until it does.

Remember, advertising is an investment, not an expense. Any advertisement that is profitable (in terms of net profit) is successful.

Don’t blow your budget on one program. Plan a campaign that includes a variety of advertising methods, ensuring you also have a system of tracking responses from all methods.

If every dollar invested can produce more than one dollar in profit, then why not?

To summarize, a good print advertisement targets your ideal client, creates interest in and desire for your products/services, and monitor the results. Once you know which advertisements generate responses, reinvest in order to produce the results you want.

ActionCoach is published on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month in the Business section of the Advocate. It is written by John MacKenzie, whose Red Deer business ActionCoach helps small- to medium-sized organizations in areas like succession planning, systems development, sales and marketing, and building/retaining quality teams. MacKenzie can be contacted by email at or by phone at 403-340-0880.

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