Saturday, December 30, 2006

Week 19 - Who Goes There?

OK so you are doing direct response but you need an offer. Before you decide how you are going to describe this offer, you have to be crystal clear on whom you are talking to:

1) You must know who your prospects are and where they are
2) You must know what they want, need or desire

You can find this information by asking your customers or by measuring and testing your various marketing initiatives. Don’t skip the step or you’ll be communicating with the wrong audience. Crafting the words which you use to describe your product or offer is similar to crafting your headline. You must promise the reader benefits and ask them to act. Broadly speaking, the body of your advertisement should:

1. Reinforce your headline in your opening remarks
2. Specifically state your offer
3. Develop and support your offer, offer reasons why the prospect should believe you and take action. Tell the reader why you are offering the special price, bulk rate etc.
4. Most importantly, tell the prospect how to act.

The words you use to elaborate in these areas are up to you. Run small tests to see what is working and what is not. Never assume that you have found the perfect combination of words or that your wording could not get any better. Keep refining the ad, especially if your response rates start to decline. Most importantly, try not to use the “technical language” which is thrown around in your industry. Remember that the offer should be directed towards your readers in words they can understand. And finally, don’t use the ad to tell them how great your business is.

P.S. – Speaking of headlines, here are my four golden rules for making them as effective as possible:

1. Pick out only the people you can interest. Focus your headline on the intended recipient only, for example: “Calling all nurses who find car parking difficult in the city!” versus “Great deal on parking near to the hospital/city.”

2. People don’t read ads for amusement. Offer some valuable information and a reason to read on.

3. Be specific. Don’t try to be funny or witty – state the offer or the reason to read on (example, “Rid your house of termites today and stop them returning forever – guaranteed” versus “The Bug Stops Here”).

4. An oldy but a goody - promise the reader a benefit! (Example “Do you want to stop hair loss and restart growth within 90 days – guaranteed?” versus “Is your hair falling out?”)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Week 18 - Direct Response Only!

The most important aspect of any advertisement is that you call the reader to action. Tell them what you sell, why you are selling it, how it will benefit them and then ask them to take action!

Now that sounds simple enough, but how many advertisements do you see (in fact stop now and have a look around you) that are simply offering no information? We see them all the time - companies run quarter page newspaper advertisements and leave most of the available space blank - a small headline in the corner might read “buy only the best”. Worse, it might not say anything…just the name of the company, as if we should be impressed, as if we should leap out of our seat and make a purchase.

One of the greatest business building minds of all time, Jay Abraham, calls this type of advertising “institutional advertising”. He believes it is conducted because the owner of the business is more interested in creating a masterpiece than they are in generating sales!

David Ogilvy, millionaire advertising executive and founder of Ogilvy and Mather, asks:

“What is a good advertisement… An advertisement that pleases you because of its style or an advertisement that sells the most?

Look at all the advertising you have done over the past few years – did it ask for a direct response or did it simply tell the readers how great your company is? This is not an attack on designers or other creative folks – they have usually spent years studying exactly what we humans find visually appealing. So don’t rule them out. Just don’t let them rule your advertisement! You control the headline, the wording and the call to action. They can control how they present this in a visually appealing way.

Some Direct Response examples:

1. Call now!
2. Return this coupon by mail for your free brochure
3. Come into our store with this advertisement
4. Visit our website and enter your unique code
5. Mention this ad for a free sample of our product

Week 17 - The Only Purpose of Advertising is to Make Sales

The success of Google over the last 5 years comes largely down to one thing – business owners are willing to pay handsomely for leads which result in actual sales. What was lacking prior to the Internet was this ability to scientifically track just how you ad was performing. Whilst the Internet and these methods are new, the concept of advertising to create sales opportunities is certainly not. There is a classic book by Claude Hopkins called Scientific Marketing which was written in 1923!. Don’t be put off by the title, you should easily be able to read it in a weekend. Hopkins declares that:

“The only purpose of advertising is to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actual sales.”

Regardless of what you have heard or seen in the past, for most small to medium sized businesses the only focus should be the number of qualified leads that are generated from your advertising. Qualified means that when people do call or visit, they are seriously looking for the solution that you provide. With a few cute graphics or a joke, just about anyone can get the phone to ring but will the caller actually want your service at the price and terms you offer it?

Let’s look at 6 golden rules you should follow for all of the advertising you do, on or offline.

1. Firstly be consistent. All of your marketing messages must project the same message.
2. Always incorporate your USP.
3. Always ensure you are using a direct response method (such as a discount coupon). You must call your prospect to action.
4. Always create an effective headline.
5. Always write effective copy (the words we use to describe the offer).
6. Ensure you are applying the Broadest Possible Appeal rule.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Week 16 - Hate to Sell, Then Don't - Educate!

Without a doubt, the most successful salespeople don’t seem to push anything on you. These people sell without selling and by educating you on purchasing a product or service they are in effect helping you to set “decision criteria” in your mind. In other words, you end up asking yourself “On what basis am I evaluating this purchase?” The education you have been given be it brief or a 3 hour presentation helps this process, so in effect the teacher can be a leader.

Information and education empower the purchaser. Have you been in a liquor store and seen the little pictures of food beside the name of the wine? You know, BBQ Steak for the Syrah, shrimp for the Sauvignon Blanc? How do these make you feel? Empowered I bet and as a bonus, it completely leads you away from making a decision on price alone.

Decision criteria are real – whether you know it or not you have decision criteria for coffee. Starbucks have set it as a warm, clean inviting atmosphere with jazz music and helpful knowledgeable staff. They mix this with a consistent coffee experience – notice I did not say superior, in fact many smaller chains and independents have amazing coffee, but lack the “new world” criteria.