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.
If you could master the art of advertising, you would soon be an extremely rich individual. An “Advertising Master” could not only sell just about anything, for any price, but could also sell his or her expertise to others for untold sums of money, especially if that Master could guarantee results.Now the bad news. Becoming a true Advertising Master is probably as difficult and time consuming as it might be to become a nuclear physicist! Advertising is that hard! Advertising is that elusive! Advertising is that much of a mystery!Advertising is like writing a brilliant poem on the sand of a beach. Just when you have written a masterpiece, the tide comes in and washes it away forever. Then when you try to rewrite the poem, it turns out not to be so brilliant the second time around – even if you wrote the very same thing. The poem may stay the same, but the world around it changed. It lost it’s the original relevancy that made it brilliant the first time around. That happens with great ads all the time.Is this starting to sound like a philosophy lecture? But here’s the thing about advertising: You never know what good advertising is until it works. That means you can’t tell if an ad is a good, effective ad before it is actually used.Now, let’s get in touch with reality here. We know a lot about advertising. We know a lot about what works and what does not work. It’s just that there’s never 100% certainty about anything. Add to that fact that advertising tends to be extremely expensive and you have a very delicate situation, indeed. Still, very few businesses can exist without doing at least some kind of paid advertising, and very often, advertising can be a tremendous source of new customers, business and profit for just about anybody who is selling anything.When advertising is done right, the profit it can bring to a business can be truly spectacular. That’s why it’s so tempting to roll the dice with your ad budget. But when it comes to advertising, what you need is a healthy dose of common sense, combined with a strategy that risks only as much money as you think you can afford to lose.First of all, one must decide what kind of advertising is right for the business type. The choices are:· print advertising in things like newspapers, magazines and other specialty publications.
· broadcast media eg. radio and television.
· internet advertising is a whole new and different kind advertising world in itself
· directory advertising
· billboards and poster sites
· promotional advertisingIt can all be pretty intimidating. What advertising vehicle is right for you? What if you only had £1,000 to spend. Is it best to spend that £1,000 on an ad or ads in the local newspaper, take out an ad in the Yellow Pages, or maybe buy some radio time on a local station. If you only have £1,000 to spend, which should you choose to gain maximum effect? And by maximum effect, we mean bringing in more than the £1,000 you spent on that ad!Well, we’re only going to talk about some general principles here and give some basic guidelines. That’s because literally whole libraries of books have been written on the subject and art of advertising, and we simply can’t cover it all here. It’s a subject that is nearly inexhaustible, and any entrepreneur worth his salt should be spending a lot of spare time reading up on all the advertising information he or she can get his or her hands on.First, never buy a large print advertisement without testing a smaller less expensive ad first. Maybe start with a classified ad, or very small space ad. If the results are promising, you can reasonably upgrade to a bigger more expensive ad in the same publication. The key is test and measure! You must have a system to determine that the ad you bought is responsible for the leads you get from that ad. It’s not always easy. Take the case of a restaurant.Let’s say that Restaurant A buys an ad in the local newspaper. How do you know that the people who come into the restaurant are doing so because they were prompted to do so by the ad in the local paper? Is it reasonable to ask every patron who comes in if they saw your ad in the paper? Probably not. But if you included a clip out coupon in the ad which patrons can bring in for a 10% discount, you can get a pretty good idea of how well the ad performed. Simple techniques like this can make all the difference.Companies that sell things via mail order key their ads to show where each order sent in came from. All orders which include a key from a print ad will show exactly how well the ad performed. This is an almost 100% accurate way to test a print ad.But what about a radio ad? How could a restaurant advertising on a local radio station determine if their broadcast ads were working? It’s a lot tougher. You could ask patrons to mention your radio ad when they come in, but this is unreliable, to say the least. If business suddenly increases when the ad runs, you might reasonable conclude that the radio ad is working, but you can’t be 100% sure. It’s a tough call, and the smart restaurant owner will have to decide if the radio ad is worth it or not. If business continues to be brisk while the ad runs, it’s probably a good idea to keep it going.Whatever the case, having a reliable way to test ads is essential to making intelligent decisions about the advertising budget. Another major point is this: Always remember the central purpose of an ad.- to bring in customers who will buy what you are selling. This point is so often forgotten and the design of the ad becomes an exercise in creative design rather than something designed to generate new sales.The ad should produce more in income than the cost of the ad itself. This seems obvious, except for the fact that we are all bombarded every day with all kinds of advertising that is not necessarily selling very much. If this is so, then why is all this advertising being bought and paid for?Well, much of the advertising we are confronted with every day is purchased by major corporations with very deep pockets, and gigantic advertising budgets. The big players can afford to buy ads that merely create “name recognition” and help them keep a high profile in the public mind. But small to mid-sized businesses can’t afford this kind of thing.How many times have you seen a TV commercial that is fun to watch, completely hilarious, and really gives you a good laugh — but leaves you with no idea whatsoever about what is being advertised? We all see dozens of these ads every year. They’re fun and entertaining, but they don’t sell much. So why do people buy pay for ads like these? Again, such ads are usually the venue of major players with more money than brains, and who are also willing to take big risks in the advertising game.But the vast majority — perhaps 99% — of businesses can’t afford this kind of thing. The purpose of an ad is to sell, not to entertain. The purpose of an ad is not to “be creative” but to produce profits. The purpose of an ad is not to be a work of art — but to get customers marching through the door. If an ad happens to entertain while making money, well, that’s fine. The trouble is, too many people have been led to believe that an ad must first be funny or entertaining, when the true first task of an ad is to inform customers about your product, tell them where and how to get it, and get them to buy.Many small and mid-sized business owners see a lot of funny and creative ads on TV or in magazines, and then assume that because huge rich companies are using these kind of ads, they must be a good thing. That’s not the case.There are other pressures to create ads that are nice to look at, but which don’t work. Ad agencies, for example, compete for creativity awards sponsored by advertising associations. Ad writers and creators who get awards get a boost to their careers when they win awards. This encourages them to lose sight of what their primary purpose is — to create ads that sell. Many TV ad producers tend to be frustrated film makers. How many TV ads have you seen that have the look and feel of miniature feature films? A lot! It’s great if they actually do something to sell the product, but much of the time they don’t.So how can you be sure that your advertising vehicles have the proper elements needed to make sales? While there is no such thing as a guaranteed formula for ad success, you can give yourself the best chance by remembering the tried and true basics, and those basics are represented by the anagram AICDA — Attention, Interest, Credibility, Desire and Action.An ad must first attract Attention. With a print ad, that task falls to the headline. In a radio ad, that means a loud, attention getting intro made up of any number of sound effects. In TV it’s something similar, but with visual effects added. In a sales letter, its teaser copy on the outside of the envelope, and an attention grabbing headline on the opening page. Photos and graphics can also grab attention in print ads — whatever the case, an ad must first capture attention before it can accomplish the next mission which is…….. Interest. Once you lure the prospect in, you must create instant interest in what you are selling. That’s usually handled with a subhead and the first sentence of the body copy, or the first dialog of a radio or TV ad. Credibility is provided in a variety of ways, including past customer testimonials, statistics which demonstrate success and more.Desire is created by appealing to the emotions of the ad viewer, and this is done my showing what the product will do for those who buy, such as solve a problem, or enhance prestige, or improve health. The final function of an ad is to produce Action! The ad viewer must be compelled to call, write in, stop by in person — or whatever you want them to do. Urging action usually means providing incentives and rewards to do so. For example, putting a time limit on when an incredible 25% discount can be obtained will spur people to action. There are many other ways as well.How you produce the elements of AICDA will be your challenge. There is no one, good way to make sure you have all the elements of AICDA hitting on all cylinders. Again, this is advertising, not mathematics. You may have to test several different versions of an ad. before it really starts working. If you’re lucky, you’ll hit the jackpot the first time you place an ad.Please be aware that this short discussion on advertising is only a primer. Getting advertising right is a major challenge for any business and an ongoing process. A lot of marketing gurus out there offer a lot of hype and unrealistic notions about what advertising can do for a business, but here at Alchemy, we don’t deal in hype. We deal only in reality, and solid, grounded business practices that are guaranteed to work. You will need to advertise, but you must take the correct and careful approach. Do that, be persistent, work smart, and you are bound to succeed. Millions of others have.SummaryFew companies can afford to ignore buying paid advertisements to grow their businesses, but the key is to proceed carefully, intelligently, and stick to the basics. Advertising is by nature a somewhat arcane art. There are no magic formulae that guarantee success. All advertising must be rigorously tested. Buy small ads before risking major money on large ads. Remember the AICDA formula and the real purpose of an advert is to SELL! And not to entertain.