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7 Ways to Make Advertising a Sure Thing

Seven steps to a planned campaign that will generate better results than a shot in the dark.

Harry Welby-Cooke




Advertising is a significant investment for any company. If approached correctly, it can yield great results, yet similarly, if it fails, it can be an expensive mistake. I’m sure you’ve heard the statement: “50% of advertising is effective, we just don’t know which 50%.”

That kind of guesswork isn’t necessary. Here are seven areas of advertising that will help give insight into getting it right.

Consider these carefully before embarking on any new advertising campaign to ensure the best results.

Results: Advertising But Being Ignored?

1. Strategy

The first step when considering an advertising campaign is to have a clear strategy underpinning it. This can be defined as a plan that needs to be carefully thought through before any action is taken.

What is your strategy? Most simply put, you need to decide who you want to influence, what do you want them to do, and how are you going to encourage them to take action? It is important to spend time carefully considering each of these points.

2. Sell one thing at a time

Keep your ads as simple as possible. If something looks too complex, people will shy away from it or get overwhelmed and confused by the detail.

Although you may have many products and services to sell, it’s best to cover one key product or aspect of your service in an ad, and then use your personal selling skills to educate the customer about your other products and services when they come into the store or visit your website.

3. Local is lekker

People are generally loyal when it comes to their local communities – just think of sports teams, schools and community organisations.

Where appropriate, try to tap into these in your advertising with communication that is relevant to the community.

4. Tell a good story

People like a good story and this translates into advertising too. There are very few people who are interested in straight facts, figures and statistics. If you think about it, when you overtly try to sell to people, it often pushes them away. Many people don’t like to be sold to, but they do like to buy things. The vision you create through your advertising should show the potential customer that the product or service solves a problem, adds value to their lives or fills a need that they may have.

5. Offer great value

Why should people buy from you and not your competitor if there is nothing to differentiate you from them? To be competitive, you need to offer value to the customer and this doesn’t necessarily need to cost money.

In fact, you may already be offering services that your competitors don’t and missing out on the opportunity to use this to your advantage. Some examples include: Expert advice from your sales team, package deals or even special deals with different, but related businesses whose products and services complement yours.

6. Under-promise and over-deliver

Placing an ad should be with the intention of making sales, not just for the sake of placing the ad. The first part of the challenge is to get the customers into the business.

Once they are in your business, you need to ensure that you not only deliver on the promise, but that you surprise and delight them. The impact of this on the customer will have them talking about your product or service to their family and friends, resulting in good referrals.

7. Test and measure your advertising

Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that your advertising is automatically guaranteed to have the desired results. You need to ensure that your strategy is sound, the mediums are carefully selected and that your idea is strong.

Test your ads by running different ones until you find the one that works. If your ads are not working, don’t continue running them hoping for a different result, and similarly if they are working, rerun them.

Related: Why Your Business should be Devoted to Promotions

Harry Welby-Cooke is the Master Licensee for ActionCOACH South Africa. He is also the President of COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors Association of South Africa). ActionCOACH is the world’s largest executive and business coaching company with operations in 39 countries. It is also on the list of the top 100 franchises globally. As a highly successful Business and Executive coach, Harry is a master of teaching business owners how to turn their businesses around and accelerate their growth. Email him at or call 0861 226 224


Consumers Don’t Have An Attention Problem. It’s Just That Your Advertising Isn’t Very Good

With so much media available to consume, quality matters more than ever for ads.

Brendan Gahan




If a brand releases an ad and no one sees it, is it still called “advertising”?

People have more tools than ever before to skip out on ads entirely. More than three-fourths of the people in North America engage in automated ad-blocking, and 10 percent of them block ads across four kinds of media or more, according to Deloitte. Much like the question of trees falling in forests, what good is a brand’s message at a time when people generally don’t want to hear its sound?

Ad units are shrinking in the wake of ad-blocking technology, but human attention span remains unchanged. Today’s consumers are surely more distracted than any previous generation, so they guard their attention spans more mercilessly. When advertisers can successfully command that attention for a minute or two, it means the consumer is watching an ad for the same reason he or she binge-watches Stranger Things on Netflix: The ad has managed to present itself as relevant or vital to the viewer. It wins every time.

Just 10 years ago, Gillette dominated the razor blade market. Its ads were comfortable, predictable 30-second units that reminded everyone of something they already knew: You need razor blades on the regular, so you might as well buy Gillette.

Related: Advertising Consulting Business Plan

But, the market had to reorganise itself with the appearance of Dollar Shave Club and its distinctly off-the-wall messaging. The notorious startup used quirky 90-second ads to spread its word online, presenting itself as unignorable by comparison to the competition. Even though we live in a time when people can skip ads, block ads and avoid ads, Dollar Shave Club’s marketing won major viral attention. It didn’t exactly kill Gillette’s Goliath, but it sure made Goliath sweat.

The lesson here is that people don’t hate all ads, they just hate the crappy ones. The bar for perceived quality in advertising is so low these days that many choose not to engage with anything on principle alone. People even close web pages they want to visit when the page auto-plays a video ad. When job number one of the advertiser is to interest consumers, it’s never been easier to annoy them.

Far from the rise of the six-second ad unit, there’s strong evidence that people generally want long-form content.

Ooyala reports that long-form video content consumption is up 30 percent from last year. Instagram used to be all about sharing individual photos and short videos, but now with the launch of IGTV supports 60-minute videos. The most widely subscribed YouTuber, PewDiePie, regularly posts 20-minute-long videos to a community of millions of fans. Joe Rogan’s podcast blends comedy, politics and philosophy for two to three hours at a stretch, and is one of the most popular podcasts on the internet.

People can, of course, handle stories and follow them over time. It’s one of the defining characteristics of humanity. But, there are so many stories competing for our attention nowadays that we are extremely selective about which ones we let into our lives. If any of these opt-in narratives will come from advertising, those ads must first run the ad-blocking gauntlet, then be immediately relevant and spectacular to the consumer upon arrival. The bar for perceived quality in advertising these days is actually quite high.

Related: 9 Strategies For Memorable Advertising When Your Audience Is Chronically Distracted

But, there is meaningful assistance on your way to clearing it. Social listening tools trawl the internet to learn what’s being said about and around different brands. With help from a company specialising in consumer insights and some Nielsen data, brands can better learn who their customers are, what they love and what they don’t love. This is key information in designing a vital, relevant message. In simplest terms, a brand must know its audience. The marketing needs to reflect what the audience is interested in, not what company leadership is interested in.

From there it’s only a matter of iterating and optimising. The great thing about digital advertising is that you get feedback instantly. You can iterate a campaign to make it better. Simple tweaks in copy, reframing key ideas and A/B testing can help make your campaign truly great.

Otherwise you run the risk of a mediocre campaign and a wasted media spend. No one wants to hear that sound.

This article was originally posted here on

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6 False Advertising Scandals You Can Learn From

Don’t stretch the truth the way Volkswagen, New Balance, Airborne, Splenda, Rice Krispies and Red Bull did.

Jayson Demers



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New entrepreneurs are often tempted to exaggerate what new products or services are capable of. No wonder: Presented to a powerful investor, a stretch of the truth just might help land that series A funding.

And, less seriously, a bit of marketing flair or showmanship, in many cases, will help an entrepreneur accomplish his or her without many repercussions.

But, in other cases, if you’re that entrepreneur who is caught deliberately misleading investors or consumers, you could face false advertising charges – and the ruin of your brand’s reputation. Consider these six examples:

  1. Airborne
  2. Splenda
  3. New Balance
  4. Rice Krispies
  5. Volkswagen
  6. Red Bull
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Forget Everything You’ve Heard — Fear Doesn’t Sell

If consumers associate your product with fear, they may not have a strong connection to your brand.

Scott Brown



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Sixty percent of Subaru owners have dogs. So in 2008, when the company decided to sponsor Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, it made a major break from previous advertising campaigns — ones that showed drivers with other cars getting stuck in the snow, for example. Alongside a pledge to donate $250 to charity for every car sold, the company began to understand how to appeal to its core audience through their own interests — and how those tied together in a Subaru.

Since 2008, the company has been running a campaign called “Love,” one that brings together all the attributes that Subaru is known for — including safety and reliability. Instead of talking to customers by telling them all the bad things that will happen if they don’t drive a Subaru (e.g., getting stuck in the snow), the company began speaking in a more positive language — including bringing furry friends along on drives.

For many, the instinctive approach toward marketing is to tell an audience why they have to buy your product. Bad things will happen otherwise, and yours is the best in market. The others won’t help you reach your goal. The problem with that logic is that it doesn’t take into account the impact of brand image on product marketing. Sure, you might skid in the snow without a Subaru, but you need to think positively of the company as a whole if you’re going to be drawn to its products in the first place.

Related: How do I know that my product is market-ready?

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