Know Your Objective
by Rich Harshaw
What is the objective of your advertising? Getting someone to call you? Building name recognition? Promoting a particular product - or your entire business? Here's why defining your advertising goals is important to its success.
Sounds a little bit elementary, doesn't it? Maybe too simple. But you’d be surprised. Most people say, “I know what the objective of my advertising is…to make money. To make sales. To generate business. What else is there?” Well, there are lots of other things. Specifically, you need to decide if you want your ad to generate leads, generate sales, build awareness, get somebody to take an action, move somebody to the next step in the buying process or a combination of these things.
Many advertisers assume that everyone who sees their ad will be ready to buy and waltz right in and plunk down cash. But it depends on what you’re selling and who you’re selling to. Let me give you an idea. We had a client a couple of years ago who owned an upscale consignment furniture store that only carried really nice stuff in excellent condition. He blew almost $20,000 on radio advertising that was VERY typical advertising junk. You know “We carry this, this, and this. Only the finest that. We’re committed to this. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Our store is located at such and such shopping plaza, we’re open from 10 to 6 everyday.” It’s not my opinion that his ad was horrible. The indisputable lack of results proved it. So, like many business owners, he complained and whined that radio advertising does not and will not work for a furniture store like his. But remember, there are 2 parts to every advertisement. There's the medium and there's the what you actually say in the ad. In this case, it wasn't the radio station that was bad...it was his ad. He had assumed that the next step in the buying process was for the prospect to come into the store to browse around. Sounds reasonable, right? What would you expect people to do after they heard an ad for a consignment furniture store? Come on in and take a look.
We thought that there might need to be an extra step in there. So here’s what we did to change his ad and create a dramatic increase in response. Instead of assuming that everyone was just waiting to hear his ad so they could finally find a place to empty their wallets, we assumed that since nobody had ever heard of this store that they would need a very low-risk way to find out more about it before they would even invest the time to come check it out. In his store, because it’s consignment, the inventory changes all the time and they never have the same stuff twice. It just depends what people bring in for him to sell. So we created a little thing called the “Inventory Update List” which is simply a list that’s printed out every two weeks of everything that’s come during that time period. Then, on the radio ad, we talked a little about the store, but instead of only giving people the option of coming into the store, we gave them a lower-risk option of calling in to get put on the “Inventory Update List.” The results? Well first of all, walk in traffic just about doubled, but more significantly, they took over 30 calls a day from people who just wanted to be on the list. Once they get someone on the list, then they had the ability to contact them as many times as they wanted and get an opportunity to sell.
The point is this: sometimes it’s appropriate to try to generate sales from the ads. In a lot of cases though, it’s smarter to try to generate leads off of ads. You just need to make sure that you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish before you start. Our friend with the furniture store thought that people would come into the store when they heard the ad. He was wrong. There was actually an in-between step for many prospects – calling in to be put on the list. Now, he's got that list on the Internet with pictures of the furniture that’s in stock so his customers can hop online and get an updated inventory list as often as they like. Pretty neat, huh?
Here are a few more examples of companies whose objectives were to generate leads at first instead of going directly to the sale. Texas’ largest SBA lending bank put together a report detailing everything that a business owner needed to look out for and know about getting a small business loan. They then promoted this report in all their advertising and generated leads. A large mutual fund services company ran ads promoting a FREE audio program called “Investing Strategies: Which Ones Actually Work And Which Ones Are Guaranteed To………” Doesn’t the name of that program just jump out and grab you? If you were even remotely in the market for investing, wouldn’t you just have to call and request that tape? A corrugated box manufacturer put together an audiocassette that told the story of how and why they were the only company in the country that could design, produce, and deliver any custom box order in less than four hours. The tape was offered on all of the mailers and faxes that were sent out to prospective clients. A company that manufactures soaps and chemicals that are used in carwashes put together a video that showed how their competitor’s acidic products would actually eat metal on cars during the car wash. They did this by putting strips of aluminum in each of three different beakers…each beaker contained one of the competing products including theirs. The other two beakers instantly started to foam and bubble within 15 seconds after the metal was put in it, while our client’s product just sat there doing nothing. This video was titled The 15 Second Safe Test and offered in all their trade publication ads and direct mail.
So think about your ads. What are you trying to accomplish? Do you need to add another step? How can you get more people to raise their hand and at least say they’re interested? Can you offer something to lower the risk or to give information?
Rich Harshaw is the CEO of Dallas, Texas based Y2Marketing, a National Marketing consulting and Fulfillment Agency. Visit his website at http://mymonline.com/mymblog/