For years I´ve said (and I have not been kidding) that the problem with most advertising is it´s written by the advertiser.
A typical small business ad makes a major feature of the name of the business. In newspaper the tendency is to make the business name the biggest thing in the layout. On radio the rule seems to be insert the name every ten seconds. Television? Put the name full screen for the last five seconds of the ad and make sure people know directions to the store.
But, for just a minute, let´s pretend that your business is a big and tall men´s clothing store, and that I´m a prospective customer.We can assume that I don´t have any interest in having you try to sell me things I don´t want. We can further assume that I don´t want to pay more than a fair price, and that I wish to be treated as if I´m important. Those are just the generic concerns.
Suppose that I´m six feet eight inches tall. I now have additional concerns: I don´t want to shop for clothes that don´t fit. I don´t want to find clothing designed for a much smaller man, even if it has been manufactured in my size.
Let´s look at your ad and see what it says.
Your name is the headline. You have a photo of your family, who apparently do double duty as your staff. Your ad tells me how long you´ve been in business, your address, phone number, your hours of operation, and a list of the product lines you carry.
What your ad has not addressed is any of my issues. Actually, your ad hasn´t said anything to catch my attention. I find this amazing. You´re trying to attract me, and other people like me, but you insist on talking about yourself.
And suppose, for just a minute, that I´ve decided I need a couple of white business shirts with French cuffs. Suppose that I see your ad, come to your store, and discover that you only stock casual clothing for big and tall men. When I discover you don´t have what I want, and walk out, you´ll probably claim the ad "brought in the wrong people."
You only got lookers instead of buyers? Hummm. Does this happen to you a lot?
Of course, even bad ads will usually produce some business. If you have clothing that is in high demand, and there are enough big and tall men, some of them will respond to your ad and will probably buy something before they leave.
Of course, a great many more will be spreading their business among your competitors, because their ads are cut from the same cloth as yours.
Or maybe they just chose the store with the most convenient location.
Advertising is too expensive to waste.
As expensive as advertising is, shouldn’t we strive for the greatest possible return on investment?
Your self centered ads are not persuasive. I don’t care that you’re the biggest, the oldest, the most popular, or that you will not be undersold. I, your prospect want you to talk to me. I want better advertising, more salient advertising from you.
Let’s consider what makes an ad effective.
A good ad is about the customer. A good ad speaks directly to a specific group of people, in language they use, about concerns those people have recognized. A good ad sells benefits, and explains exactly what each benefit does for your prospect. It is honest, and believable. A good ad is built on a simple concept, conveys its message clearly, and leaves one easily remembered thought in the mind of the prospect. It makes the prospect remember the product, or the advertiser, instead of the ad. A good ad is distinctive, and easily recognizable. It helps to build a positive image for the advertiser. A good ad conveys a sense of urgency. It has a clear call to action and tells the prospect what to do next.
Suppose, instead of making your name the headline, you ran an ad that with a headline that said "Are you as tall as Larry Byrd, and can´t find shirts long enough to stay in your pants when you reach for the top shelf?"
I know, I know. You’re going to tell me you can´t run an ad like that, because when you talk to the tall men, you don´t let the big men know you have shirts for them, too, and as much as you’re spending for this ad you’re not going to leave anyone out.
So, here’s my question. Who you think is reacting to your current ad? Who feels it´s speaking to them? (Hint: announcing you stock both big and tall men´s clothing doesn´t mean you´ve said anything of interest to either).
Are you ready to kick your advertising into high gear? Then talk to me, your prospect. Talk about the things I think are important. Talk about exactly how you´re going to help me.
And please stop thinking that the only “benefit” I care about is price. You must have more to offer than that.