(20) Advertising for Profit

Have you ever heard the expression: “80 percent of advertising doesn’t work!”...? It’s interesting how we all know it’s true, but no-one seems to be able to tell us what to do about it.

Well, here is the answer, and it’s easy; follow the principles of good advertising and then test the advertisement, and measure the results. Any advertisement that pays for itself (in terms of net profit) is free, so when you know what works, keep doing it until it doesn’t!

Okay, sounds easy but how do you to do it? Read on and find out:

To write good advertising, you have to make sure you understand the AIDA Principle: Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.

It is important to understand that we are talking about direct-response advertising here; not brand building. We want advertisements that make the phone ring or get prospective customers to walk in the door, and not just to make Joe Smith feel good about who he is or what he does.

Have you ever seen the advertisements on morning television? Like, “Available now, all 12 books of the Bible for just $99! But don’t call yet, you also get a complete edition of the Saint James bible, and if you pay by credit card, you also get a free set of steak knives. Your family will thank you for introducing them to salvation for the rest of your life. But this offer is only available to the first 200 callers, so have your credit card handy, pick up the phone and call 1800-5555555 right now!”

Does it sound corny? Do you recognize it?

With only minor changes for the products on sale, these type of advertisements have been unchanged for over 20 years now.

What does that tell you? That’s right - advertisements do work!

So how do they get the Attention of your audience? Does, “Available now, all 12 books of the Bible for just $99” interest you? Possibly not, but it’s hard to ignore it, isn’t it? In advertising, we call this a headline, and in this case, the headline includes an offer.

It’s then time to ask the hard question, “What does your headline look like?” 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.

Going back to that advertisement- They make us an offer to gain our Interest; actually they usually make us several offers like, just $99, an extra Bible and the ubiquitous set of steak knives. It just gets better, doesn’t it? Seriously, what offer are you making in your advertisement? And if you’re not making one, why are you advertising?

Now we come to the concept of Desire. In the example we have, “Your family will thank you for introducing them to salvation for the rest of your life.” Now this might not work for you, and it might not even be true in some cases, but it will be true in others - and that’s enough.

Desire is about a benefit for your reader (listener, watcher etc.). This is not about product features, but the benefit obtained from the product. Don’t get caught up with the technical brilliance of your product or service, because the audience may not care enough about that; people only want to know the old radio station W.I.I.FM. (What’s In It For Me?).

And finally, the "Call to Action!" When you are writing an advertisement, you end it with a 'call to action.' Think of your audience as 10-year-olds. Tell them exactly what you want them to do. In our example, “Have your credit card handy, pick up the phone, and call 1800-5555555 right now.”

Do you want your customers to call? Then why include your address, email and website? Use the space to make the phone number bigger, or whichever method you choose to have them make contact with you by; just stick to one and keep it simple!

Now we get to the testing and measuring part. Don’t go out and invest your life savings on one program, remember 80% of advertising still doesn’t work, and even the best written advertisement, in the best publication, at the best location or at the best time still comes under the 80% failed advertisement statistic.

Find a way to only invest 10% of your budget on one campaign, and make sure you have a method of trapping the responses. You could use a cut-out coupon, or a particular offer unique to your campaign.

The idea behind testing and measuring is to ask everybody who walks through the door, where they heard about you. And then write it down, because data without purpose is of not much use at all.

Once you know which advertisements your prospective customers respond to; invest whatever money you need, in order to produce the results you want. Borrow the funds for it, if you have to - since it pays for itself. If every dollar invested can produce more than one dollar in profit, then why not?

In summary: Know what it is you are trying to achieve and who you are trying to attract; produce something that interests them, and then monitor the results.

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