As a business coach, new clients often ask: “Coach Maurice, what is the best way/place/form of advertising?”The short answer is: none. There is no magic bullet. If there were a “best”, then everyone would use that method exclusively.There is however a little known key that relates to all forms of advertising. Mastering this key will allow you to maximize your advertising efforts.The majority of the time when, small business owners and entrepreneurs delve into advertising they take a universal approach. They do not realize there is an important dynamic to consider if they expect their advertising to be effective.This key is simply the difference between active and passive advertising. Understanding active versus passive advertising methods (and subsequently an active versus a passive viewer) will make the difference in whether your advertising brings explosive results or gets lost in the crowd.[Active Advertising]This form of advertising is considered active or intrusive because the viewers are passive, meaning they are not specifically looking for you or your service at that time. Radio, Television and Billboard ads are all forms of Active Advertising. The goal of active advertising is for your offer to catch a percentage of the people who see your advertisement at the exact right time and make them say “oh, that looks like something I need.”Active ads either catch a person’s attention or they do not. Just like with a billboard on the freeway, you have 1-3 whole seconds to get your ad to capture their attention enough to begin to get your message across.This means that if you do not interest a person within that time, they drive by, switch the channel or move their mouse to the upper right corner of your ad and press the [x] to close it.An effective active ad is one used to reach out and grab someone who is not particularly looking for your product or service at that exact moment.The idea is to generate name recognition and familiarity in the marketplace with your brand. Therefore, active ads are best suited for branding and positioning. They are mostly used to imprint an impression in a person’s subconscious so that when they are actually at a point of purchase, the buying decision goes in your favor.Although you can use them for lead generation, do not expect a high percentage of immediate response from active ads.[SUCCESS TIP]Whenever using active advertising, you must do a LOT of it (quantity and frequency) in order to be most effective. The reason you need to do a lot of active marketing, is because the target audience is passive. They are in the middle of doing something else, i.e. reading a magazine, watching a show or driving to work.Because they are passive in response to your ad, expect your response (as it relates to your ROI) to be lower than passive forms of advertising. This is because the majority of potential customers will not respond the very first time they see your ad. People are busy, and they need to be reminded of your business.Again, remember viewers are not necessarily looking at that time for what you have to offer. So you are in a sense interrupting their experience. This is why it is called “intrusive” marketing.SPAM is an example of active marketing that is seen as both “intrusive” and “offensive”.Make sure your advertising is intrusive, but not offensive.[Think about it] When was the last time you saw an ad only ONE time and responded to it immediately? How often do you have that type of immediate response to an ad? Do you usually need to see an ad a few times before you take action if it is not an immediate need?Ideally, when placing an active type of advertisement, you want to get a chance to be seen by the same people over and over with your exact same message. In the advertising business, this important technique of repetition is called “frequency”.[Frequency]Term used to describe the ratio or number of times an individual sees or hears the same advertisement. A person needs to repeatedly hear the same message in order for it to stick. The higher the “frequency”, the better response you will get.Frequency is a major factor in the response rate of any advertisement. You can see this in how often you see the same commercials on TV in a short time period.Frequency creates name recognition, brand familiarity and stability. All of which are necessary for positioning a product or service properly in consumers minds.Let’s use our billboard example again. A billboard gets a lot of frequency. They are often effective at branding because travelers usually use the same roads multiple times per week. This allows the same message to be presented repeatedly to the same people, day after day, month after month.Again, this method is best used for branding, because with the exception of a directional (i.e. Waffle House – next exit on right,) people are not likely to stop their car and respond immediately to a billboards offer.The other form of advertising is a passive type of advertising. They are called passive ads because rather than reaching out to the area a potential customer is, instead they sit and wait for the customer to find them. The viewer is “active” in that their goal is to find a specific advertisement with an offer related to their needs.[Passive Advertising]This form of advertising is considered passive because the viewers are active, meaning they are currently seeking out your type of product or service. Coupon Books, Yellow Page Advertising & Search Engine pay-per-click (PPC) are forms of Passive Advertising.People who see passive ads are already looking for your type of service and have actively made the decision to search out a provider. Usually they do not have any particular provider in mind, which is why they are looking for someone to service their needs.[APPLES-TO-APPLES]Be sure you properly compare advertising methods before judging their effectiveness. Do not confuse response with conversion.One frustration common among advertisers is the difference between the pricing and response rates of an active campaign compared to a passive campaign. An advertiser may compare a banner or pop-under-ads campaign to a pay-per-click campaign. The cost and response rate of both will be dramatically different.There are many, many reasons for this difference, but a main reason is they are not the same type of advertising. One is active, the other is passive.In general passive campaigns, like pay-per-click (Yahoo Advertiser Network, Google AdWords, etc) will always yield a higher conversion rate than a passive campaign, like banner or pop-under-ads. It is also much more expensive and difficult to track when using a passive form of advertising.The key reason there is better response rate in PPC (a passive form of advertising) is these are people who took the time to type in a phrase into a search engine and click a link or open the yellow pages and make a phone call. They are currently and actively looking for your service.Billboard or Pop type ads are active forms of advertising and show up in areas or on a site where your customer hangs out. However, the viewer, who is passive about (i.e. not currently looking for) your service at the moment, was in the midst of doing something else.It takes several impressions and reminders to get the passive viewer to RESPOND. Response, or taking action based on the advertisement, should not be confused with CONVERSION, or the viewer actually making a purchase (or other required action taken).This is the same reason Yellow Page inquiries are more expensive, and generally will yield higher response than something like Radio Advertising. This is due to the different focus of the viewers at the time of seeing the ad.[KEY POINT]DO NOT compare your active campaign response results to your passive campaign results. They will NEVER match, nor should they. When you attempt this, you are making an apples-to-oranges comparison.Most vehicles offer either active or passive. Sometimes, certain mediums like a magazine may have both active (display ads throughout) and passive (classifieds in back).Both methods should be properly implemented as a part of a well-rounded marketing plan.When creating a media mix, be sure to recognize whether the vehicle you are using is an active or passive vehicle.While in the creative phase, ask yourself:Are you intruding on a (passive) person’s activity and need to let them know what your ad is about?Or, do you just need to answer the need of the (actively looking) person’s desire?Be sure to create your ad according to whether the person is active or passive about your offer.[SUCCESS TIP] Before running an ad campaign, ask yourself, “If I were looking to buy this same product/service, what would this advertisement have to say to convince ‘me’ to respond right now?”Any advertisement that can answer that question is going to convert into lots of visitors. That is exactly what your ad must do.