By DMITRI STERN
The road to effective advertising is a complex and expensive one - or so we have been led to believe by the industry over the years.
But when clients ask me for advice on how they should be advertising their business, my response is usually simple and some would even say boring - don't try to be creative and, if what you're doing is working, don't change it.
Advertising reps get paid by the quantity of advertising you place, so it's not always in their best interest to teach you how to halve the amount of advertising you do and double its effectiveness. But that's exactly what is possible.
Once you find an ad, sales pitch or marketing strategy that works, keep using it.
Remember, your customer base is constantly changing.
You may get tired of seeing the same old ads but your new and existing customers won't.
Statistics New Zealand tells us 57,890 people were born in this country last year and 28,140 died. If your ad sold baby clothes to new mothers this year, it will probably work just as well with new mothers next year.
If you were an undertaker and your ad attracted new customers this year, it will continue to work next year and the year after.
But remember, you can't control something you cannot measure so it is vital you monitor everything you do to promote your business.
Start a promotion analysis folder and use it to keep details of each promotion or ad you run and the results they achieve. You will at least double the effectiveness of your advertising by doing this.
I advise against being creative or original. Pretty ads don't sell products.
The ads that win awards for advertising agencies rarely win sales awards for the clients.
A survey of ads that had won the industry's coveted Clio awards found that of 80 TV classics picked at the Clios, 36 of the business owners involved had either sacked the agency or gone broke. One client even refused to run his ad.
The owner of one of the biggest direct-response advertising agencies once said to a client: "Do you want creativity and originality? Or do you want to see the darned sales graph going up? Because you sure as heck ain't going to get them both."
The point is don't be creative for the sake of being creative. Finding a new twist for a proven sales approach is fine, but only as long as it works better than the previous one.
Let your sales graph be the judge.
Instead of risking creativity, go for this tried-and-true technique - use "benefit-driven" headlines in all your ads.
On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the rest of the ad. If a reader's attention is caught by the headline, he or she will read on.
Unless your headline sells your product or service, you've wasted 90 per cent of your money. The best headlines promise the reader a benefit - lose weight, meet new friends, suffer less tooth decay, get an easy-to-maintain garden, make more money, get relief from arthritis, increase your sales and so on.
The headline is the ad for your ad.
By using these techniques, you will discover the art of effective advertising isn't as elusive or mysterious as those who make good money by selling it in such terms would have you believe.
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