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Creating Ads That Ring Up Sales

Out with the old and in with ads that produce results; just follow these rules.

Entrepreneur

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If I asked you to watch two hours of prime time TV and pick the most effective ad spots, could you do it? Chances are, you could name the ones you found the most entertaining. But could you identify the commercials that had the power to move the audience – really motivate viewers to learn more about, or buy, what’s being advertised?

If you’re a bit fuzzy on what it takes to create advertising that actually works, you’ll be happy to know it’s not your fault. There’s just so much ill-conceived advertising out there, throughout all marketing media. What makes it tough for entrepreneurs to understand how to create their own campaigns is the fact that so many of the big-budget ads from major advertisers are so bad. They’re self-indulgent and cute, and although they may be creative, they probably sell very little.

The first duty of advertising is to make something happen. Any campaign worth its salt must produce a desired result. Rework your current ad campaign, or create a new one that motivates prospects to take action by understanding these four important advertising rules.

1.Good advertising changes the customer’s relationship with what’s being marketed.

The first step to affecting the way your customers think is to make them look at what you offer in a new or different way. A good ad has the power to completely change the mind of the reader, viewer or listener, whether that applies to choosing the best tyres to purchase for rainy areas or the qualifications of a political candidate. Your ads can open minds to possibilities by introducing a new type of service or revealing fresh discoveries or facts. Advertising that does a good job of educating audiences, such as in B2B trade publications, can demonstrate the advantages of a new product. And some advertising, such as direct mail, can allow you to tell a deeper story and create a strong, new connection with your customer.

2. Effective advertising tells prospects “why”. Good advertising makes it immediately clear why prospects should care about your marketing message.

For best results, your ads must demonstrate a valuable, desirable benefit to your target audience. This benefit can be either tangible or intangible. For example, saving money is a tangible benefit,while peace of mind may be intangible but equally desirable depending on your target audience and what you’re marketing. What benefits do your ads promise, and are your promises markedly different from those of your competitors? If not, you need to rethink your product or service offering from your customers’ point of view until the benefits you offer will help you stand out from your competitors.

3. The best ads ring true.

Broadcast ads on radio and TV work bestwhen they present scenarios that feel real and true to the intended target audience. Prospects should be able to identify with the characters or situations presented and see themselves reflected in a positive light. Your offer should present a believable solution to fulfil a perceived need. Print advertising, out-of-home and online advertising, while less able to present real-life scenarios, still must offer reasonable solutions that meet the real needs of your target audience.

4. Successful advertising moves customers to the next level.

The bottom line is, marketing exists to support sales. If your current advertising doesn’t produce, it’s like having as lack employee: your best option is to fire them. Before you design your next campaign, decide what you want your prospects to do in response to your advertising, and design each ad with that result in mind. Whether you want them to call for a free appointment, visit your website, go to your store or visit your trade show booth, be sure your call to action takes your prospects to the next level.

5. Finally, be prepared to track and measure the responses as they arrive.

After all, you can’t run an effective campaign unless you know what’s worked in the past. Continually fine-tune your ad campaign to capitalise on the elements that make the phone or the cash register ring, and soon you’ll have good ads that make all the right things happen.

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Advertising

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

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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 Entrepreneur.com.

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Advertising

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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Advertising

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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