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Get A Better Response From Your Small Business Advertising

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 12: A Costco sign is displayed on March 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Costco Wholesale Corp.’s profit beat expectations with a net income for the second quarter that climbed to almost 40 percent. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The one true reason for advertising is to produce customers. Otherwise, why do it? But some ads pull more customers than others and the purpose of this article is to show you some ways to make that happen.

Before any ad can be successful it must be directed to the correct target market. If I was selling audio CD’s that teach Italian would I market it to Italians? Probably not, there’s a pretty good chance they know the language already.

I would look for people who, either for business or pleasure, have a desire to learn Italian.

Once you have successful identified your target market you must determine the needs of the customer and match the benefits of the product to those needs.

How To Use The “Call To Action”

Unless you are putting ads in newspapers and magazines just to get your name out there you’ll want your ad to cause your customers to do something. Such as: pick up the phone and call you, bring in a coupon, get a free sample, request a brochure or free information.

This is a “Call To Action.” Your ad must create some excitement in the customer. The customer has a need and you can fill that need. The ad shows the customer how you will fill the need, where you are located and perhaps even pricing of the product depending on your industry.

Add Value To Your Premium

When a customer decides that there is a need for a product the first item of business is to get some education about that product. This information usually comes from discussions with salespeople who may or may not be honest and reputable. Offer free information in your add.

“15 Things You Should Know Before Buying A Home” or Visit our store and pick up your free “Wedding Planning Kit.” If you can provide your customers with good information you will often go to the top of their list of places where they will make their purchase.

You may not even have to create this yourself. Suppliers often offer brochures of this type free or for a small fee.

Create A Hotline

Customers can call your hot line to place orders or get additional information about your products and services. If you have two lines coming to your business advertise one as your hot line. Publish the number in all your ads. Customers want information so they can make an informed decision. Give it to them.

Create True Value In Your Ads

Which of the following do you think would create more business?

“ Half Off, 50% OFF, or Buy One; Get One FREE?”

If you guessed “Buy One; Get One FREE” you would be correct. Getting something free has a greater perceived value to most people than “half price.”

Give Customers Options For Getting Information

Come in for a free demonstration, have someone contact me, send your free planning kit by mail or email. Some customers never want to talk to a person and some do. Some will want to see the product in action while others would prefer to read about it before they see it.

Can They Find Your Ad?

In most cases the newspaper or magazine will bring you a proof of your ad and it will be on a white page with no other ads around it. You never get to see how your ad will look until it appears in the actual publication.

Take your daily newspaper and cut out your proof and glue it to the paper over an existing ad of the same size. Now you can see how it will look on the finished product. Is it lost with the other ads? If so, you might want to consider putting a dashed border around it or increasing the amount of “white space” near the edges. Don’t take the text clear to the edge of the ad dimensions. Leave about 1/4″ of white space all the way around the ad. This will make the ad stand out from the rest.

A Good Headline Is The Most Important Part Of The Ad

You’re standing in the checkout line at the grocery store. Up and down the aisle are tabloids and usually women’s magazines. All have headlines for stories inside the magazine or newspaper that are supposed to attract your attention. A great deal of thought has gone into the exact words to use that will hopefully entice you to buy the publication.

If you are offering free information in your ad try to incorporate that message in the headline. For example: “Fantastic New Information For Home Buyers” would attract potential home buyers for your “Home Buyer’s Planning Kit.”

If you expect customers to buy your products or visit your business your ad must have an attention getting headline.

Test, Test, and Test Again

One of the major problems with marketing and advertising is that initially it’s an expense. It’s supposed to be an investment. It will be in the long run if you do it correctly but in the beginning it’s an expense.

No one has a “magic bullet” as to what kind of advertising will work for your particular business. The only way to know what works is to experiment with your advertising.

That doesn’t mean just throw and ad somewhere and watch what happens. Do your homework. Where is your target market? What are their needs? How can you fill those needs? Never, ever run an ad unless you’re nearly positive that your target market is going to be looking there.

Experiment with different offers, promotions and products. When you find something that works stick with it until it no longer works. Also look for common words, phrases or product offers that work across different ads. It may be the key benefit that most customers are looking for.

The Last Word On Getting Better Ad Response

The nice thing about the techniques described above is that you can use them whether you are trying to increase name recognition or increase response. Please keep in mind that advertising must eventually be an investment. It can’t be an expense or it will drive you out of business. It must produce more paying customers than it costs.

But in order to do it correctly you must know who your target market is and where they are. Your product or service must contain benefits that your target market is looking for. You must have a way to track your ad so you’ll know where your customers are coming from. The easiest way is to ask each customer how he or she found you, or ask them to bring a copy of the ad to the store. And, last but not least, your ad must have an attention getting headline.

Obviously you can’t always use all of the above techniques in every ad. You’d need a full-page newspaper ad to do them all. Use the ones that work for your particular circumstance and watch your response rate increase.

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