Every business has to market itself and for small businesses, direct response advertising can be one of the most effective ways to grow. It’s essential for three reasons:
1) It announces your value proposition to the community surrounding your business. In short, what do you do and why should they care? This is essential for attracting consumers who are new to the area, consumers that have worked with your competitor(s) and were unimpressed, or consumers who simply weren’t aware of your business and are open to what you offer.
2) It reminds your existing customer base that you’re in their “neighborhood” and want to see them return. Unbeknown to you, your customer may have been lured away by a competitor and needs a nudge to return. Or, perhaps in the hustle and bustle of life they’ve simply forgot why they loved your business so much. In any case, advertising can help you return them.
3) When lined up in a Google search window with fifteen of your biggest competitors, you’re chances of winning the game of search engine roulette are dramatically diminished if they’ve never heard of you before. Advertising helps build your reputation and credibility, sometimes long before they decide they are looking for what you offer.
With that said, is your advertising everything it should be? I believe there are eight components that can help drive response and results. In future blog entries, I’ll dissect each of these in detail, as well as provide examples for each that will, hopefully, help fuel your creative fire as you think about your own advertising. In the meantime, here’s a quick overview that could be used to evaluate what you are presenting to the community in your advertising.
Is there a dominant image in your ad? Does it capture your value proposition? It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. It is also true that a picture or graphic is usually the first thing that is noticed about your ad, and often the most easily recalled feature. It is okay to have more than one image, just make certain that only one image dominates and communicates your message effectively.
OPEN THE FRONT DOOR
Does your ad contain a headline that ties directly to your value proposition or dominant image? The headline is like the front door to your ad. It invites a reader in and creates context for your story. Like the dominant image, it can encapsulate your value proposition even if in an indirect way. Keep it sharp, simple and if possible and appropriate, witty.
Studies have shown that, generally speaking, consumers make the buying decision emotionally and then rationalize it with pros, cons, facts, and figures. Ask a few non-biased people around you: What emotion does your ad communicate? Their answers might surprise you – especially if they tell you that it doesn’t connect with them emotionally whatsoever.
CALL TO ACTION
Is there a compelling reason for the reader to take action? Is that reason time sensitive? Most small businesses can’t rely on image or branding ads as they are too difficult to evaluate for effectiveness and usually require a massive budget to do effectively. An offer, coupon or similar call-to-action is critical for driving a response and for evaluating return on investment. Typically, the more aggressive your call-to-action is, the higher of a response rate you will see.
Give the reader as many ways to contact you as possible. Some are willing to pick up the phone immediately, others may want to check out your website first. Give them options!
- Company Name
- Phone Number
- Web Address
- Social Media Platforms
Make certain that your business and the products and/or services you offer are distinguishable from the rest of the pack. Does the reader clearly understand why your business is different from other choices? By the way, every business claims their service is the best. Dig deeper for a better differentiator and you’ll help the consumer find permanent places for you in their heart and mind.
Does the ad provide social proof of your value? (testimonials, credentials such as a Better Business Bureau accreditation, Yelp rating etc.) Social proof can be a powerful motivator because it sends a message to the consumer that you’re known, you’re loved and you do business with integrity.
Resist the urge to tell your entire story or to showcase every service and product your business offers. Remember, the ad is designed only to attract the customer to your business…once there you and your team can educate and upsell as appropriate.