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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fargo Advertising: If you know how to make a sales pitch, you know how to write an ad.

'Ive always been a little nonplussed by those who imagine a distinction between salespeople and ad writers. Essentially, they do the same thing in different media. So even if you’ve never written an ad, if you know how to sell something, you can create effective ads for all sorts of media. Here’s how:

Imagine making a sales presentation, in writing, to a person you've never met and know very little about. You could do it, right? You’d simply have to depend more on your product knowledge and less on your sparkling smile, steady gaze and winning personality. You’d have to write plainly and clearly:

  1. What you’re offering to do
  2. How you plan to do it
  3. Why your offer is better than your competitor’s

Congratulations. You just wrote a basic ad. Mail it to someone, or to several someones, and see what happens. If you said something worth hearing, you’re likely to make a sale.

Now organize your thoughts into the fewest possible words so you'll be able to better hold your prospect's attention.

Oh, so you've decided to make this a good ad! Remember, shorter is better. Saying more in fewer words is the key to holding people’s attention. There’s no such thing as a good sales letter that’s longer than a single page.

Locate the most meaningful statement in your presentation and move it to the beginning.

This is going to be a powerful piece of persuasion. Open big if you want to see big results. And make a single point wholeheartedly. Weak ads make multiple points halfheartedly.

Trim what you've written so it can be read out loud in a specific number of seconds.

You've just created a radio ad. Most beginners will instinctively write ads that require about 90 seconds to read out loud. Tighten it to 60 seconds and watch your ad gain power. A real pro can make that message ring like a bell in exactly 30 seconds. And the best of the best can rock the world in just 15 attention-riveting seconds.

Dramatically increase the point size of your opening statement and add a photograph or illustration to reinforce it.

Wow. That's a fine-looking magazine or newspaper ad. And it reinforces all the things you’ve been saying on the radio! You’ve got the beginnings of a comprehensive marketing strategy here. Keep this up and people are going to think you really know what you’re doing.

Instead of a stationary photograph, try using a series of video images to reinforce your radio script.

That’s an exceptional TV ad. And hey, look! Your master marketing strategy just got stronger. The only dangerous assumption we’re making is that you’ve got enough ad budget to buy sufficient repetition in all these different media. If you do, great. If you don’t, you need to pick just one of these media and then become the king of that mountain.

Now post any or all of these to a website.

Use your website as a 24-hour relationship deepener. Let it serve as an expert salesperson, even if you don’t plan to transact money online. Your corporate website should be the most highly organized repository of expert advice and salesmanship within your corporation.

Break these components back apart and use them to prepare, rehearse or illustrate your next face-to-face sales presentation. If you sell by presenting useful and information in a clear and logical manner, you're either a really great salespersonor a clear and coherent ad writer.

Ad writing is simply organized salesmanship. And writing ads can even help your sales pitches. Here’s an exercise that’ll take you from writing a simple ad to perfecting your sales presentation:

  1. Write an ad for what you’re trying to sell.
  2. Record your ad on your computer or other recording device.
  3. Listen to what you’ve recorded.
  4. Tweak the script and your delivery of it.
  5. Record it again and again until you just can’t make it any better.
  6. When you’ve got it memorized, go deliver your ad in person.

Your polished presentation is going to raise a few eyebrows, and you’re going to raise your closing ratio, too.

My point is, selling in ads or in person is simply about communicating the right thoughts in the right order.

Don’t let anyone tell you that the information delivered in a successful magazine ad is somehow different than what goes into successful direct-mail letters, radio ads, newspaper ads, TV ads or any other form of media-delivered persuasion.

The right ideas, communicated using the right words, are what selling is all about. If you want your ads to work, make them say what you say when you’re face to face with your customers. You won’t be far off the bull’s-eye.

Fargo Advertising: Hey Big Spender

Q: What do you think is a better advertising plan: $2,000 in direct postcards reaching roughly 3,500 people, or $2,000 in a Magazine ad reaching 25,000 readers?

A: It depends entirely on what you say in your ad. If your impact quotient is high enough, your best bet will be the magazine. If the direct postcards are delivered precisely to "the perfect target" (which is not very likely), then the direct-mail route is preferable.

Based on the fact that I don't know the answers to either of these questions, my guess is that neither the direct postcards nor the magazine will work for you. My advice is that you keep your $2,000 in your pocket until you come up with an actual plan. These are the hard questions you need to answer:

1. What do you have to say that matters to your customer? I'm your prospective customer. I know you want my business, but why should I care? What's in it for me? Most ads are written under the assumption that the reader, listener or viewer has a basic level of interest and is paying close attention to the ad. But customers tend to ignore all ads that do not speak directly to them. Your first task is not media selection; it's message selection.

2. Can you say it persuasively? Most ads are ineffective because the writer was trying to say too much, include too much and be too much. Fearful of leaving someone out, these writers write vague, all-encompassing ads that speak specifically to no one. "We Fix Cars" is a terrible headline for an ad.

3. Are you speaking to a felt need? Let's say the "We Fix Cars" auto mechanic has a great deal of affection for older BMW 2002s. He knows that 2002 owners love their cars like few drivers on the road and that the only weakness of the 2002 is its evil Solex carburetor. Every 2002 owner knows this, too. So he writes the headline, "BMW 2002 Owners: Aren't You Tired of Fooling With That Solex by Now?" In the body of the ad, he talks about the fabulous new Weber two-barrel carburetor now available for BMW 2002s, raves about how it dramatically increases performance and reliability, explains that he keeps these new Weber carburetors in stock at his shop, then names the price at which he will install and adjust that carburetor for you. He closes the ad by saying, "You'll rocket out of here in a completely different BMW than the one you drove in." If a list of BMW owners in your area is available for a direct-mail card (such as the list from the local BMW club), then a direct-mail card or flier would be the way to go. But if no such list is available, the newspaper might be a second choice. In either case, you'd want to include a large picture of a BMW 2002 to serve as a recall cue and help gain the attention of your target customer.

4. How long is your time horizon? Some ads build traffic, some build relationships and others build your reputation. If you don't have the financial resources to launch a true branding campaign focused on building relationships and reputation among potential customers, you're going to have to settle for traffic-building ads until you can afford to begin developing your brand. To what degree do you have financial staying power?

5. What is the urgency of your message? If you need an ad to produce immediate results, your offer must have a time limit. This technique will simultaneously work for and against you. On one hand, customers tend to delay what can be delayed, so limited-time offers generate traffic more quickly since the threat of "losing the opportunity" is real. On the other hand, customers have no memory of messages that have expired; short-term messages are erased from our brains immediately. Therefore, it's extremely difficult to create long-term awareness with a series of limited-time-offer, short-term ads.

6. What is the impact quotient of your ad? How good your ad must be depends on the quality of your competitors' ads. A .22-caliber pistol is a weapon against an opponent with a peashooter. But aim that pathetic pistol at an opponent holding a machine gun, and you can kiss your silly butt goodbye. How powerful is the message of the opposition? If your competitor carries a machine gun, don't go where he goes. In other words, don't use the media he uses.

7. How long is the purchase cycle? How long it will take your advertising to pay off is tied to the purchase cycle of your product. Ads for restaurants work more quickly than ads for sewing machines, because a larger percentage of people are looking for a good meal today than are looking for a machine that will let them make their own clothes. Likewise, an ad for a product we buy twice per year will produce results faster than an ad for a product we buy only once a year. Remember, a customer first has to be exposed to your ad often enough to remember it, then you have to wait for that customer to need what you sell. How soon will he or she likely need it?

Not hiring a professional ad writer is often far more expensive than hiring one. If you'd like to read more about this stuff, most libraries and bookstores are full of books on advertising, including three of my own.

efargo: Internet, Print, Radio, T.V.

Fargo, North Dakota Advertising on the Internet
With millions of users & thousands more coming online daily, conducting business on the internet is growing at an unprecedented rate. In 1998 online retail sales tripled from the previous year and are projected to follow or surpass that trend into the foreseeable future. A commercial website can be developed for the cost of a quarter page yellow pages listing or less - so the question becomes not whether your organization can afford an Internet presence - it's whether you can afford not to.

Fargo, North Dakota Increasing Market Share
Businesses or individuals who are seeking your product or service are able to browse your detailed information online 24 X 7 at their leisure. Additionally, you may find markets for your business you were previously unaware of because your product or service is not available locally or acquiring your product is more cost effective/convenient.

Fargo, North Dakota Print Radio, and Television
With ever increasing advertising costs an Internet campaign may be the low-cost solution for you. You're already budgeting for advertising. Internet advertising is available at your prospective customer's leisure on a global basis.

Fargo, North Dakota Size and Time Constraints
On the Internet your detailed information is available allowing your prospects to evaluate it thoroughly. A thirty second spot on radio or television is costly and only allows you enough time to introduce your business and you're finished. Newspapers are also expensive and limit your message with size constraints.

Advertising on the Internet should be a part of your overall promotional strategy with an addition of your url to your existing & future media.