Why It Pays To Advertise
"You can have the most wonderful product in the world, but if people don't know about it, it's not going to be worth much. There are singers in the world with voices as good as Frank Sinatra's, but they're singing in their garages because no one has ever heard of them. You need to generate interest, and you need to create excitement."
Donald Trump, American real-estate tycoon
Advertising doesn't cost, it pays! And good advertising can pay you well. Bad advertising, or no advertising at all, invites disaster.
You have to advertise if people are to be made aware of your business and the benefits it offers them. Without advertising you rely on word of mouth recommendation or press editorial, both extremely effective, but slow and generally unpredictable.
Advertising takes many different forms, from painting your name on the side of a van to delivering leaflets door-to-door or posting printed cards in shop and post office windows. More often the term applies to classified and display promotions in appropriate media, usually newspapers and magazines, and it is with this definition we concern ourselves here.
Advertising by itself does not sell. It will not sell a bad product (customers will ask for refunds) and it won't open up new markets. It is not a miracle cure that can generate sales for a dying product. Conversely, advertising will not sell your must successful products to people who simply don't want them.
Main Points About Effective Advertising
* It reduces the entire population to your target audience and reaches as many of those people as possible at least available cost.
* It must always have an objective. This means having a clear idea about what you want to accomplish in your advertisement. Reasons for advertising include:
* To invite orders or enquiries
* To launch new products
* To publicise price changes.
* The message must attract your target audience, it must interest them, create a desire for your product and prompt people to act (order or ask for further information). This acronym AIDA is one you will encounter many times in advertising.
* It must be truthful and straightforward. The nearer your advertisement is to reality, the more effective it is.
* Sufficient resources must be allocated to accomplish your advertising objectives.
* Testing is crucial to effective advertising, allowing good promotions to be repeated and bad ones to be eliminated.
* Every aspect of your advertisement must be prepared from the customer's point of view. That person wants to know how you and your product can benefit him. The most important feature of any advertisement is the benefits it contains.
* It must be placed in the appropriate media.
Newcomers to business tend to confuse the real benefits of advertising, frequently considering it a necessary, and expensive, evil, not the long-term investment it really is. In short, effective advertising is the lifeblood of your business. Without it you will surely fail!
Deciding When and How
Advertising can be a major headache for many firms, not just new businesses or those without specialist advertising departments.
But it isn't always costs that are to blame as much as making that vital choice between classified or generally more costly display advertising.
Returning to basics, all advertisements must follow the general AIDA principle. They must attract attention, generate and retain interest, create desire, and stimulate action.
But what will best achieve this objective: classified or display?
The answer depends on a number of things, not least of all an understanding of what these two methods involve, how they differ and what similarities, even overlap, might exist.
Classified advertising, sometimes called 'lineage', generally employs just words, without embellishment, other than perhaps a few words emboldened, and sometimes impact lines or boxes around the advertisement. Where these minor forms of decoration are included, the format is frequently referred to as 'semi-display'.
Display advertisements, on the other hand, are designed to stand out from the crowd, using a variety of techniques including: occupying a set position on the page, taking up a specified amount of space, including graphics and illustrations, adopting a variety of fonts, and so on. The argument is that display advertisements are more noticeable, more profitable than their counterparts buried amongst countless others in the classified columns. Hence the far higher cost of display advertising.
The following main points will help you decide:
* Classified ads are usually cheap and are excellent for generating enquiries. Many successful classified advertisers use the two-stage enquiry method, allowing the customer to obtain further information before placing an order. A major benefit for dealers is the chance to build a useful mailing list for future offers.
* Display advertising is best for selling straight from the page. Readers are more likely to trust their money to someone who has paid for a larger advertisement than someone whose advertisement occupies a tiny space among so many competing entries. Classified advertising is rarely effective for selling off-the-page except for very low cost items, commonly £10 or less.
* Classified advertising can be used to test interest in your product before venturing into more costly display advertising.
* Classifieds can be used to test and compare advertising sources.
* Classified advertising is generally unsuitable for anything that requires a lot of 'telling' to accomplish the task of selling. Too much grey matters in classifieds is boring and readers can easily lose interest halfway. If it can't be said in a few words, try display advertising.
* For classified advertisements, the words themselves must do the job of selling. Sometimes a maximum wordcount is set and every word must pay its way. Conversely, display advertising allows a variety of other techniques to be used to attract and retain reader interest. Based on what they say about a picture being worth ten thousand words, it follows that, if the design, style or appearance of your product is important to the potential customer, display advertising is usually best. If the product markets well 'sight unseen', classified ads might be appropriate.
* Classified ads usually focus on a single offer. Display advertisements can include several products, or an invitation to send for further information, obtain a catalogue, send for samples, and so on.