Proven Techniques for Ads that Generate Business

Posted on Oct 12, 2009 by Kerry O'Malley

At a time when marketing budgets are being cut to the bone, it’s more important than ever to make your print ads compelling.  Here are some techniques that will make YOUR ads stand out from the competition, and generate more inquiries.

Image ads may look cool, but they don’t push people to action

I love ads where butterflies and pipelines co-exist, illustrating the pipeline company’s “green” commitment.  How warm and fuzzy is that!  This type of ad may help to improve a company’s overall image, but it probably won’t make a potential customer go to your web site or call in an order.  If leads are what you want, focus the ad’s message on the benefits and applications of your products or services.

List benefits in your ad’s headline

Read your ad headline.  If you were a potential customer, after reading that headline, would you say “so what?”  (Be honest.)  If so, your headline probably concerns a feature – not a benefit.  The answer to “so what?” is probably the benefit.

Talk specifically about applications

I hate to say it, but most people reading magazines today are lazy.  If there isn’t something in your ad that they can easily and instantly relate to, you’ve probably lost them.  If your product helps save money, reduces down time or increases production in a specific application, make that perfectly clear from the beginning.

Make your ads easy to skim

Bulleted copy, sub headings and illustrations or photos that quickly communicate key points make your ad easy to skim.  People are becoming use to getting their information quickly from the Internet – print ads need to reflect this as well.

Smaller ads in every issue can be more effective

If you’re looking for leads, a more consistent presence in the top 1 or 2 magazines your prospects are reading will probably be more effective than a few full page ads in more magazines.  Studies show that it takes people 6 times (on average) seeing an ad from the same company to act on the company’s message.  Plus, even though the ads may be smaller, because they’re appearing in every issue of the magazine, it makes your company look larger and more successful.

Talk first person with the reader

Use words in the ad copy like “you” and “your” to focus on the readers’ needs rather than talking about how good “we” and “our” products or services are.  For example, the statement “You will reduce down time by 25%” is much stronger than “X product will help you reduce down time by 25%.”

Match your offers to where the reader is in the buying cycle

When prospects are just starting to gather information, they may need literature or a look at your web site, but aren’t yet ready for a sales call.  When it’s almost time to buy, they’re usually anxious to speak to a salesperson, rep, or distributor.  You can increase the number of inquiries you generate by making offers that appeal to prospects in all phases of the sales cycle.  For instance, consider offering selection guides, case histories, a newsletter, a demo, a “lunch and learn” session, a test or analysis, a sales call, or a combination.

If leads are a MUST – build in dedicated ways for prospects to contact you

A dedicated toll-free number or Internet landing page will help you track the activity coming from specific ads or magazines.  If you’re offering something of value (demo, lunch and learn session, free testing or analysis) you have every right to ask for a registration or their contact information, and most people will be willing to give it.  However, you’ll probably be disappointed if you think someone will register on a landing page for a free brochure, so make the offer realistic!  Would you be willing to take the time to fill out a registration form for whatever it is you’re offering?

The bottom line is this:  the goal of your ad is to get a potential customer to actually READ the entire ad, and then ACT on the message.  They can’t act if they don’t read!  So make your ad as readable, relevant, and compelling as possible!

Author: Kerry O'Malley

Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies. Working on the “other side of the desk,” she hired ad agencies to manage her employers’ advertising and P/R programs. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team.

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