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10 tips to increase your advertising effectiveness
By Leon Frank

If you are not satisfied that you are getting the most from your advertising investment, you're not alone. Cost-effective advertising is a challenge facing every business, regardless of size. Companies from the corner dry cleaner to General Motors often look at the money they've spent to shove their message in front of the buying public and wonder "why bother?"

Done properly, advertising is a very effective method of increasing business. Without it, you grow only by word of mouth, which can be pretty slow. Advertising can take you into new territories and help you introduce new products and expand into additional industries. Doing business without advertising is like making faces in the dark. You know what you're doing, but no one else does.

Here are 10 ways to increase your advertising effectiveness - and help make your ad dollars pay off:

1. Use the right medium - Use media that match the demographics of your target client base. Every advertising salesperson knocking at your door knows who their audience is. Pick the one who will reach your target audience. This doesn't require fancy studies: If the station's listeners are under 25 and your customers have gray hair, use someone else.

2. Focus on benefits - Why are you better than the guy down the street? Create an advertising theme around your differences and give the prospect specific reasons to come to you.

3. Use repetition, repetition... - Remember how your 3-year-old wanted to hear the same book over and over again? Your prospect audience is the same way. There is no such thing as repeating your message too often. But repeating it too seldom can be disastrous.

Use your ad budget in ways that give frequent play. For example, consider several smaller ads in the same or continuing issues of a magazine instead of one large ad. A very unscientific rule of thumb is to have your relatives read the publication you are in. If they don't see your ads without searching, you're not in large enough or often enough.

4. Be creative - Lead, don't follow. Resist the temptation to hold a Midnight Madness Sale. Do something unique that stands out from your competition. This is an opportunity to create a personality for your business - use it. Hint: Try cross-industry concepts, like an Internet company holding a tent sale.

5. Take advantage of teamwork - Work together with the sales teams of the publications and broadcast and electronic media who are calling on you. They know what works. Keep them focused on results. As the ads run, meet with them to review responses and discuss mid-course corrections.

6. Be respectful - Treat your prospects with respect. Try to capture the attitude of inviting friends over for dinner. While blaring ads work in some situations, you'll likely find more success considering potential clients as friends you haven't met yet, rather than people who should be spending money in your shop.

7. Lead them to action - What action do you want prospects to take? Make it crystal-clear what you want them to do, and then make it easy for them to do it. If you want them to call, make the phone number prominent. If you want them to visit, provide a clear map. Use mail-back reply coupons and Web-based response tools, too.

8. Be prepared for responses - Are you ready for inquiries from people who read or hear your ad and respond? When prospects dial the number printed in the ad, who do they get? If voice mail is their first contact, you're going to lose a large number of people who simply won't put up with your phone tree. You may be considering your advertising campaign a failure when it's your phone system that has holes in it.

I called a number once from a radio ad and no one knew anything about the promotion. Put a copy of the ad and explicit instructions in the hands of each person who might answer the phone.

9. Keep track - The only way to know if your advertising is cost-effective is by tracking the results. Log all inquiry calls and keep track of how many result in sales. You need to know incoming response, close ratio and total dollars generated from the campaign. If you don't take in more than you spent, then your campaign isn't generating positive return on investment, and you should probably reexamine.

10. Be prepared to make the sale yourself - Advertising can only get prospects to inquire. The job of selling is yours. When someone inquires from an ad, the sale is there for the making - so make it. If someone is interested enough to call, you're more than halfway there!

10.5. And finally, have fun! - Let your wild, playful, inner-self loose a bit. This is a place where being funny, goofy, even bizarre can pay off. Advertising is a great deal of fun - enjoy it.

Good advertising can increase your client base dramatically. You can tell thousands of people how great your business is and why they should come to you. Used wisely, advertising can dramatically ramp up the growth patterns of your business.

These techniques can help you increase advertising effectiveness and make the whole process more enjoyable and successful.


Leon Frank is president of Arkota Marketing Communications, a company that specializes in providing sales training and marketing programs.

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