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Posted: 2005-01-13 / Author: Andre Bell

26 Fatal Advertising Mistakes Everyone Is Making

Billions are spent on advertising every year. Most of it is wasted.
This is because few advertisers really consider what it takes to get people to buy. Instead they attempt to be funny or clever, hoping the ad will be remembered over time.

That's a HUGE mistake.

As you are about to learn, getting people to remember you later is the last thing you should be shooting for.

So if getting people to remember you isn't the purpose of advertising, what is its purpose?
Read on and you will discover what 90% of Madison Avenue ad agents either don't know, or don't want you to find out. Fixing these mistakes in your advertising will increase your ads effectiveness and response by 500%-10,000% and actually save you money on over- priced "image" ads that do nothing but drain money out of your pcokets.

Read on and remove these mistakes from your ads and finally start making real, measurabe money from your advertising.
1. Failure To Understand The REAL Purpose Of Advertising.
Ask any ad agent the reason to advertise and they will say things like, `exposure', `to be seen', or `to get your name out there'. These concepts may all sound logical but reality is that none of these ideas can put money into your pockets or cover the expense of the ad themselves. Image ads are designed to appeal to you and your sense of feeling good about seeing your image professionally displayed.

Image ads do nothing more than show your picture and contact information and perhaps a slogan such as `we care', `we try harder', or some other phrase that anyone else can also claim.
That is all wrong for small business.
Clients are more skeptical today than ever before. They don't believe these slogans and are not drawn to image ads (unless you are unusually attractive). Besides, it takes five to seven years of that kind of `image' advertising before people to permanently remember who you are—and still, there is no guarantee they will do business with you.

The idea that people need to see your ad 6-12 times before they'll remember you is a fallacy. Having them remember you later is far less important than having them take action and do business with you, or at the very least identify themselves to you, now!

The real purpose of advertising is to generate sales. This includes attract new business, get existing clients to buy more, and get past clients to come back. Nothing else matters but sales. Period!

"The only purpose of advertising is to make sales" Claude Hopkins--Scientific Advertising

"The only objective, reality-based measure of any ad is sales" Ted Nicholas-Magic Words That Bring You Riches

This report will show you how to get better results that are actually predictable and measurable and will show you how to make every dollar you invest in advertising fully accountable.
The first step begins with recognizing that the only reason to advertise is to make money. Once you agree with that, all else comes easy.

2. Failure To Acknowledge Prospects Fears
To boost response to your offers allow people to reply or request free information via recorded voice mail or other human-free form of contact. Expecting complete strangers to feel comfortable picking up the phone and calling you for the first time is a mistake. Even if they want what you have to offer most people are afraid of wasting their time and afraid of high pressure salespeople. They have questions and are afraid to ask because they think some pushy salesperson will show up at their door unannounced (yeah, this still happens in this day and age) or pressure them by phone.

To get over this fear make certain to mention in your ads that free information, free samples, or whatever are available via 24 hour recorded messages. But don't blow it once they call. There is one thing you can say in your recorded message that will cause 80% of callers to hang up. Almost everyone who uses recorded messages is making this same mistake and losing business. Your results from offering 24 hour recorded message will still be better than running a lame image ad, but only about 20% as effective as it could be.
You can learn how to eliminate the one word that will cause 80% of your callers to hang up in my advanced advertising and marketing guide at the end of this report. I only share this secret with clients.

3. Failure To Make Advertising Success Your Responsibility
Most people who advertise leave advertising in the hands of ad agents. They feel that since ad agents are in the business of creating ads, the agent must know what works. This is a huge mistake! Ad agents are nothing more than commissioned sales reps.
Their one and only goal is to get your signature on their billing contract.
A good ad agent will help you get the most from your ad dollars among their many publications, placement, deadlines, etc. But they should NEVER be trusted to create an ad for you. Never!
There are two reasons you should never trust ad agents to create your ads for you.
First is because it takes years to understand what makes people buy. I've been writing ads and studying copywriting in my own businesses and for others for 27 years. I've read nearly 2,000 books on selling, marketing, copywriting, psychology, neuro-linquistic programming, and nearly every business subject imaginable--and still do not know everything. Not even close. No one does.
In most cases your ad agent has not studied copywriting or sales psychology. They are not trained to understand what makes people buy.
They are trained in ad layout, design concepts, company policies, and sales closing techniques to get YOU to buy advertising in their media.
You must take much of what they say about ad success with a grain of salt because their one and only goal is to get you to buy ads over and over and over again.
The second reason not to put make ad agents responsible for creating ads that sell is because results is not their job. It is yours. Their job is to provide you a place to communicate your message. Results and ad content are your responsibility.

This report will give you the tools you need to create ads that are 1000 times better than any ad your ad agent can create for you. These concepts are focused on one thing. Results!
"Guru" Ad Secrets (& stupid mistakes advertisers make)
Many of the following copywriting secrets can give you as much as 1900% increase in advertising response when properly adopted. Cumulatively adopting all that apply to your ad can give you as much as 10,000% or more increase in response and effectiveness than you are seeing now. But don't take my word for it, try it yourself and see. You'll be glad you did. This is of course assuming you have corrected the first three mistakes already mentioned.

4. Headline Is Missing Or Inappropriate.
The most important element of your advertisement is its headline. The headline is any word, phrase, picture, sound, question, or any other element used to capture the attention of your prospective client. If your ad fails to capture attention your efforts are lost. This is because 90% of the ads effectiveness is based on capturing attention; the headline. Make certain your headline appeals to your prospective client's self-interest or curiosity.

5. Missing Call To Action.
You advertise because you want your reader or listener to do something; come into your office, call you, visit your website, place an order by phone, or whatever. So why not tell your client to do these things? You wouldn't normally expect teenagers to clean their rooms or handle their chores without telling or asking or training them to do so. It's no different with ads. You must ask or tell your prospect to act, or else most won't. Infomercials are kings of action. "Call now", "pick up the phone" "order now". They leave no room for guessing the next action to take. You must not either.

6. Contact information excluded from ad (this is horrible and inexcusable).
You must make it easy for people to buy from you. Where appropriate list your address, phone number, website, fax, email, etc. If they can't find you they can't buy from you.

Look through any newspaper or local weekly and you will find at least one or two ads that have absolutely no contact information whatsoever. The advertiser (foolishly) assumes that everybody who's interested knows where and how to find them. This is stupid! Most people will call someone who makes it easy for them to buy. I'm looking right now at a spa ad that appeared in a local newspaper that says:
"1 Year Free! Buy Now, Pay Later. No Down No Interest No Payments For 12 Months!"

Guess what's missing from this ad. Yep. The contact information. Despite this being a larger ad the company name is missing, the address is missing, there's no phone number or website or anything at all that will allow someone who wants to take advantage of this offer to buy this spa.

I called information. I checked google.com and I checked yahoo.com. I couldn't even find the local advertiser by tracing the manufacturer information for this spa. Most people won't go to such lengths to try to buy. So make certain not to overlook including contact information in your ads. Otherwise your ad dollars will be wasted.

7. No specific offer.
Remember, the reason to advertise is to generate sales. An ad cannot sell for you if there is nothing in the ad to buy. Most ads do NOT include an offer of a product or service to buy. Most ads simply list the company name, a list of services, a photo of the owner or product, and some lame slogan. If you sold baseballs and you were advertising because you wanted people to buy the baseballs, what should be in your ad? Yep. Baseballs. Maybe a sale of 2-for-1, coupon for free baseball glove with each baseball purchased, or something baseball-related to get people to respond now.

I can't understand why most companies pay for what is nothing more than an oversized and glorified business card instead of an ad featuring a product or service they want you to buy. Instead, advertise a free report or sample that appeals to your target market so you can at least identify the people who want what you are selling. Then you can later follow up that interest in person, by phone, by mail, newsletter, via the internet or whatever.

If you want people to buy what you are selling then you must advertise something related to the product or service that you are selling. Or advertise the product or service itself. It's a no brainer.

Here's a clever example of an offer I just read: "$500.00 Grocery Shopping Spree Certificate at the close of escrow when you buy from me". I've no idea if home buyers are concerned with this offer or not. I do know that this is a better ad than a photo of the realtor and some lame slogan like, `we're number one' or `we care more'. Though there are other mistakes in his ad, my hat's off to this guy named Ben for at least trying something different and for advertising a specific offer

8. Emphasizing features rather than benefits.
Features do not sell, benefits sell. Most ads fail to answer `w.i.i.f.m.' What's In It For Me. Appeal to your client's wants, needs, values, and interests instead of talking about yourself or your product or service and your ad response will more than double. I guarantee it!
9. No sense of urgency or deadlines. Humans by nature are procrastinators. To get people to buy now instead of later you must offer deadlines or give reasons to respond now, instead of later.

10. Missing incentives for quick action.
An incentive could be a free gift, a bonus, an information-based report, a discount, two-for- 1 sale, or whatever is effective for your offer as a bonus for responding quickly. You must offer an incentive that people actually want. Let me say that again. You must offer an incentive that people actually want! Any other incentive will backfire and cost you responses.

11. Lame slogans about being best, caring more, or being #1 in sales awards instead of focusing on your client's wants, needs, and desires. Slogans are a complete waste of marketing dollars.
Slogans don't sell! Period. Every few months I'm contacted by some sincere business owner or decision maker who wants me to create a slogan for them. Convincing them that slogans don't sell is one of the hardest things to accomplish that I've ever come across.

I could provide reams of reports and data from independent associations and marketing groups but in the end most business people do not understand that buyers are selfish. They only want `w.i.i.f.m.'. Slogans are self-centered and completely counter to communicating `w.i.i.f.m.'. If anything, focus on creating a hard hitting USP and forget about slogans.

12. No system in place to convert inquiries to sales. Most advertisers do NOT know what steps to take after running an ad or starting a marketing plan. They simply wait and 'play it by ear' hoping the details will take care of themselves. Here's a news flash, the details won't take care of themselves!

You should plan and `systematize' your advertising campaign before the ad ever runs. Have you ever forgotten to follow up on a lead or inquirer? Everyone has at some point. To put an end to this create a complete advertising campaign that outlines what to do if someone inquires and buys, doesn't buy, asks for free information, etc. That way no one who inquires fall through the cracks and everyone possible is converted from an information gathering prospect into a cash-in-hand client.

13. Failure to quantify and substantiate claims.
How many ads have you seen that claim `best', `fastest', `sharpest' etc.? These advertisers have done nothing more than to fall back on bragging instead of communicating benefits clearly and effectively. Since we are in the age of skepticism these phrases do nothing to boost sales. If anything they cause people to distrust the advertiser. Avoid opinion-based superlatives (like `best') at all cost in your advertising. You are wasting valuable ad space and no one believes these phrases anyways.

14. Lacking testimonials or case studies showing specific benefits provided by your product or service. Use full names if possible of people who have commented on their satisfaction and more importantly quantitative results achieved from doing business with you. "We've boosted sales 3,700% in 90 days by implementing André's advertising recommendations. We've been so busy with new sales we've had to pull the ads and had to hire three new staff members just to make the deposits!" – John Doe

15. AIDA formula not fully realized.

If you've studied sales and marketing you recognize AIDA to stand for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. All advertisements should follow the AIDA formula or a similar effective formula. You grab attention with your headline, you build interest with facts features and benefits they are interested in, you fan the flames of desire by helping them visualize ownership and the benefits of doing business with you (address w.i.i.f.m.), and you ask for action—buy now!

16. No credibility statements.
All things being equal, would you rather do business with someone who has 30 years experience or six months experience? Are you more trusting of buying a burger from some out of the way nobody-ever-heard-of roadside diner called "pa's vittles and stuff" or from a place that says '3 billion served'? Would you rather do business with a hole-in-the-wall location or do business with a company that says `now in 12 countries'? Would you rather take your car to a place that advertises `Dave's part-time auto shack, now open' or a place that advertises that they offer the longest warrantee of one-year on all parts and labor plus they've been in business a jillion years? Obviously you'd want to do business with the company that appears to be the most stable.

Including credibility statements in your ads will boost response. Superlatives like `best' are not credibility statements. They are skepticism makers. Avoid superlatives and stick with credibility statements.

17. Lacking value-added bonuses or free trials or free information. Most ads give no reason to buy now (if ever). The ad I already mentioned from the realtor named Ben is a perfect example of offering a bonus for doing business with him. Keep in mind though, to be effective a bonus must be something that people actually want. Otherwise you are wasting your ad dollars.

18. Failure to test and compare competing offers, headlines, pricing, media, guarantees and so on. Once you've found an ad that seems to be pulling effectively consider it your `control' piece and try to see if you can boost response and sales by changing a different element in the ad the next time the ad runs. If you can make the ad more effective you make more money. Testing headline changes can produce as much as 1900% greater response to your ads. You never know if better results can be achieved if you don't test.

19. Plain and sincere language. There is a myth that using `big words' and formal language impresses people. It does not. Instead big words and formal language alienate people. If you want to communicate clearly with the purpose of selling then aim to keep the reading level of your ads within the same readability ratings of the Los Angeles Times or Wall Street Journal. If people have to work to understand your ad, they'll skip reading your ad. And if they don't read your ad, they won't buy from you.

20. Seek sales, not applause – most ads are created to impress the purchaser of the ad. After all, the ad agent doesn't have to convince your market to read your ad--they simply need to convince you to buy. The easiest way to do so is to appeal to your interests. And your number one interest is the same as everyone else's interest. Yourself. So they suggest ads that contain your photo or you doing something you like doing—so you fall in love with their ad concepts.

I found an ad in the paper this morning of a realtor sitting with a cello. Above her picture is the slogan, `Whether You're Buying Or Selling, Don't Fiddle Around'. Cute. This is probably how the ad agent pulled this off: Asked a series of questions like, "what do you like doing in your spare time?" "You play the cello! That's great. We can create an ad with you sitting with your cello and the ad will read, `Whether You're Buying Or Selling, Don't Fiddle Around'.
"The ad will communicate what you like to do, give the reader some insights into you as a real person, and will help them get to know you better. Oh, and all your friends and family will love the ad too! It will be great! Let's run with it? Ok?"

The realtor's head was probably spinning thinking that the ad would somehow magically attract buyers and sellers all because of a clever phrase and her sitting with a cello (at least I think it was a cello). The sad thing about this ad is that this realtor looks like a really nice person. Something about her picture says she is my kind of person; to the point, likes to laugh, and has no time for b.s.

Unfortunately she was sold an ad that cost her money with a photographer, lost opportunity costs, and lost money to the ad agent. Don't fall for it! Make certain your ad

communicates clearly what is of interest to your target market instead of communicating attempts at cleverness or ads that appeal to your interests. Few of us can afford to buy enough of our own products to justify the cost of advertising to ourselves ;-)

Had the ad communicated to the needs and desires of buyers and sellers the ad would be much more effective, much less expensive, and much more responsive and profitable. It would have been music to her ears (pun intended).

21. Speak to people one-on-one, not to people as a group. How many ads have you noticed that sound like the writer is talking to a large group or multiple people instead of to you? This is a common mistake.

For some reason ad writers forget they are communicating one-to-one. No matter if fifty or fifty thousand people read the ad, they each read it singularly. Your ad must communicate singularly otherwise you cause people to start day dreaming wondering who you are talking to. This makes your message less effective and turns people off.

22. Only use pictures if they help sell, not distract. What I'm about to say next may offend you. But it must be said. We live in a world where each and every one of us has prejudices. I'm prejudiced against okra, cottage cheese, and buttermilk. I have prejudices, you have them, and so does everyone else. Though we may like things to be different, it isn't. Keep this in mind before you decide to prominently display your picture or anyone else's picture in your ads.
Women are better off not including their picture or at least not a picture of them smiling gleefully if your message will be sent to corporate men, especially if they have never heard of you before. Men as a whole have biases that could cause you to lose opportunities for no reason other than personal prejudices. Some people purposely use photos to exclude those with prejudices from responding to eliminate having problems later. The problem with that is you both lose. You lose opportunity to gain a client and they lose the benefits of what you offer.
If you choose to use a photo then I recommend you compare results of you appearing professional and authoritative vs. friendly. Compare the results of you alone and with your staff. Use whichever is most effective and discard the other.

The same is true for minorities. If you are advertising in primarily non-minority areas it would be best to consider removing your picture. Get commitments by phone, mail, the internet, courier or whatever. Let your words do your selling for you, not your face.

Fortunately most areas of California are more flexible than the deep south. I have friends of all races living `back there' and unfortunately for them things are not as flexible as they are here.
Though we've come a long way here in California, there are still `good old boy' networks that bar women and minorities from doing business with certain companies; either purposely or subconsciously.
Call me a bigot or whatever but those are the unfortunate realities of the world we live in. Use the reality to your advantage and you will have far greater success. Ignore them and risk bumping your head or spinning your wheels needlessly trying to get business that is not available to you had you removed your picture. Another consideration to look at when deciding to use pictures or not is if the person you choose to display in your ads is unattractive. Sorry but I got to say this.
There is an ad that is running regularly in our area that says `friendly service' and the man in the photo looks scary as all `heck'. Just think, I'm a guy who feels this way. So how much worse is it for the little old man or woman who sees that ad? There's no way on earth they will pick up the phone and call that company all because the employee featured in the ad is anything but friendly looking. I plan to run into the owners of that business so I can recommend they remove that picture from the ads, or at least get the guy to smile. His picture is hurting sales, not helping.

The reverse of this is often true too. Attractive people SHOULD almost ALWAYS display their picture in ads. The public is attracted to attractive people. That's why they are called attractive :) So if that describes you, then by all means test to see if your picture helps or hurts results. It will most likely help.

23. `Me' oriented instead of 'you' oriented. This is a big mistake. Most ads talk about themselves, their products, their services, their employees and owners. The ad writers think this is what people want to hear. It isn't.
I've run test ads without any information whatsoever about myself or my experience or background and found that people don't care. What matters is if you effectively communicate what is of interest to them and about them. Results. Solve a problem. Offer solutions. Focus on them and your ads will out pull any ads you could ever run that talk about yourself. The exception to this is if you tell a rags-to-riches story or an underdog story that implies the reader of your ad can obtain the same results you've achieved. If the story can be told compellingly then do so. But make certain to draw the connection that your prospective client can achieve the same results. So in the end they vicariously see themselves succeeding through your experience.

24 No guarantees. Speaking of guarantees, people are skeptical. They fear losing money, wasting time, or being embarrassed by a bad decision. To melt their resistance and fears you must offer some kind of guarantee (provided legislation doesn't prohibit guarantees for your industry). Guarantees ALWAYS increase ad response and sales. Make your guarantee as strong, persuasive, and attractive as possible and your response will soar. My $1,000 consulting guarantee has continued to increase response over the same offers made without the guarantee.

25. Making an ad look like an ad. This is a HUGE mistake. Most ad designers make the mistake of creating ads that immediately turn people off. Think about it. When people read a magazine, newspaper, or listen to the radio what's the chance they are actively looking for your ad? None. People read and listen to radio because they want to enjoy what they are reading and listening to. If your ad looks like an ad most people don't even read it. They skip over it. The way to guarantee your ad gets read is to use an attention-getting headline and copy layout similar to the articles in the magazine or newspaper you are advertising in. This is a no brainer. If your ad looks like an article more people will look at it. This is called editorial style advertising. It's 500% more effective than a standard display ad. Use editorial-style advertising and your response will grow. On the radio, editorial style is to sound like a talk show, interview, or info-mercial.

26. Thinking that advertising is the end-all, be-all of marketing. This is completely untrue. Advertising is only one of 185 marketing methods I've identified to help my clients attract more business, sell more to their existing clients, and reactivate their clients who've drifted away. Focusing on advertising alone is foolish because you could be missing out on two to three times the income you are now seeing simply because of not using multiple streams of marketing income.

Conclusion Now you've discovered the top 25 ad mistakes and how to fix them. I recommend that you begin today using these secrets to improve your advertising and marketing. I also encourage you to do more than just advertise. Advertising can be a great way to eliminate cold calling and get people to chase after you, but it is expensive and risky. There are more ways to skin the marketing cat than just advertising. Take advantage of them all. Once you rid yourself of these advertising mistakes, your sales and profits will grow like crazy. =================================
STANDARD DISCLAIMER AND/OR LEGAL NOTICES: While all attempts have been made to verify information provided in this report, I do not assume any responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions. Any comments made about specific companies or individuals are not meant to imply endorsement or malign any person, company, product, or service. All examples are listed purely for their educational value. This information is not intended for use as a source of legal or accounting advice. I want to stress that the information contained herein may be subject to varying state and/or local laws or regulations. All users are advised to retain competent counsel to determine what state and/or local laws or regulations may apply to the user's particular business. The reader of this information assumes responsibility for the use of these materials and information. Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations, both federal and state and local, governing professional licensing, business practices, advertising and all other aspects of doing business in the United States or any other jurisdiction is the sole responsibility of the reader. I assume no responsibility or liability whatsoever on the behalf of any reader of these materials. ========================================================================================================= André Bell is principal marketing consultant with André Bell Consulting Group and author of the new book, "101 Marketing Secrets Revealed" available through his site at www.economicbooster.com


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