There is a quote that goes “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” It’s attributed to John Wanamaker (1838 – 1922) and is widely used because often, advertising expenditures are done with the “spray and pray” method. The reason I wrote my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results was because of a conversation with a television media rep.
The conversation with the media rep went along these lines:
Me: “This client needs to see new patients walk in the door. It’s not going to be enough for people to pat him on the back at church and tell him that they saw him on telly-vision. He’s played this game before and that’s just not good enough for this buy.”
Media Rep: “Ahh… uhhhh… um… well, oh… oh my … Well, you know… we can’t guarantee anything…. we especially can’t guarantee your client will see results.”
I could literally HEAR the beads of sweat forming on his brow over the phone.
It made me laugh.
It made me laugh because when I was a media rep, I would have stepped up to that plate and sent that ball SAILING over the fence.
Because I know the secret to creating advertising message that get results.
I’m not bragging… it’s a statement of fact. A fact I share openly with readers of the book. In a nutshell… here’s the key to creating advertising messages that work:
- Tightly target your audience
- Define their wants and needs
- Write copy that describes the BENEFITS of the product or service and how it meets the prospective customer’s wants and/or needs.
- Position this marketing message in places where your tightly targeted audience will see it.
When you target everyone and you’ll end up reaching NO ONE!
I’ve watched these principles work a thousand different times with a thousand different clients. The biggest challenge I face is getting my clients to NARROW their focus.
Waltzing dancers don’t sell tires… GI Joe didn’t sell Nissans…. but when Apple computers started talking to average every day people about the advantages of Macs over PC’s… the world stood up and took notice.
The other day, I was on the phone with a colleague who made the leap from independent consultant to corporate executive as the result of a messy divorce. She was literally flipping out because she had just come from a meeting where they were discussing a $48,000 two week marketing “push” which was to be launched sans marketing objectives in place.
My reply: “You don’t understand… the business that spend $4800 a YEAR needs to carefully establish marketing goals so they can measure the effectiveness of their advertising dollars. The business that spends ten times that amount in a two week period… well, they have the luxury of being able to launch campaigns that may or may not have a positive effect on the bottom line. They most certainly don’t have to worry about “goals” or “objectives”…. and no one wants to put their head on the chopping block by using such hate speech in the board room.”
I’m currently dealing with just such a situation with a client of mine. This client began his television campaign in January. We launched the campaign on a RAZOR slim budget. Production was done on a shoestring….. but the message was tightly targeted and concise. The call to action was simple: Visit the web site for more information.
The reasons for the call to action to be a visit to the web site was two fold.
The first and biggest reason is because this client is making a Major Sale. The biggest element in the Major Sale is establishing TRUST!!! As a provider of a Major Sale Service, on the one hand, you’re assured of a long term relationship with that customer or client. On the other hand, it takes a LOT to get those customers to pick up the phone and call.
Since my client is making a Major Sale, that means that his potential customers aren’t going to pick up the phone and make an appointment based on a 30 second television spot. So, the call to action in the television spot is “come visit the web site”. Bringing interested visitors to the web site is the PURPOSE of the commercial. Then, the web site has the “job” of closing the sale by providing LOTS of great information.
However, there’s another reason to make the web the destination…because small business owners NEED to see the results…especially when the phone isn’t ringing off the hook.
At the end of March, we took a look at his log files to track the results. As we looked at the first quarter log files, it was apparent that the ad was “working”. Over 60% of visitors to the site came without benefit of a search engine or web link and there was a noticeable “spike” in visitors corresponding with the ad buy. It’s rare to see the 800 lb gorrilla “Google” send less than 10% of the traffic to a site, but there it was!
However, those visitors who took the time to visit were not picking up the phone to call to complete the sale.
I give my client HIGH PRAISE… his response to hearing that the web site copy needed revamped was simple: “DO IT!” He said, “I’m not a copy writer. Get me a copy writer to write this copy!”
So, I’ve got the go ahead to change the copy on the web. I contacted a colleague of mine who does a GREAT job of writing for this particular demographic. However, instead of embracing the job, she began peppering me with questions regarding the media buy and production quality. It took several email exchanges to realize that my colleague may be afraid of the accountability inherent in this job. I mean, the traffic is coming to the site… the call to action is working. All that’s left is to tweak the copy on the site. Instead of giving me a quote, she skirted the issue… and she never did give me a quote to take to my client.
The talk with my friend who has returned to “corporate” has reminded me of what it was like inside the hallowed halls where accountability is viewed as a dirty word. My conversation with my copy writing colleague has reminded me that the syndrome is not confined to big budgets and big spenders.
It’s a shame. I wouldn’t have asked her to do the job if I wasn’t CONFIDENT that her writing would deliver. Wish she had half as much confidence in herself as I have in her.