The advert – avoid these mistakes & categories

The “Tombstone” ad

Following on from my post yesterday on the merits of advertising, I thought it was worth pointing out some of the traps that professional services organisations can fall into when advertising.

Firstly, most of the adverts I see are all very similar and more often than not, of poor or average quality. A lot of small businesses fall into the trap of buying advertising space and letting the media house that is selling the space do the design as it comes as “part of the service or inclusive of the price” – the deal clincher for the sales person. Be very carefull as most media houses are not your brand custodian and can make a real hash of your advert.

Continuing on that theme, when putting together your advert, categories to avoid falling into are :

  • The “Tombstone” ad – black & white, obituary-style. Yuk!
  • The “Boring” ad- offering nothing new, nothing enticing; blah, blah, blah…..snore!
  • The “Over scripted” ad – reams & reams of small print, cramming in as much as possible.
  • The “Pompous” ad – this is where the organisation simply boasts. i.e ‘..we’re number 1 in’ or ‘..we’re the leader in the UK..’
  • The “Feature rather than benefit drive” ad – ‘..we do this’, ‘we offer that’ rather than ‘..we can help you for this’ or ‘..we can do this better, cheaper, faster that others….’

And finally……….

  • The “Metaphor” ad – the horrible ad with a jigsaw with a piece missing or the staircase visual  with the heading -‘..we can get you to the top’

My suggestion is to ALWAYS try and promote how what you are advertising can add value. After all, would any of the advert types I have listed above really influence a sophisticated buyer of professional services to change his/her decision?!

I am a big fan of the line “people buy people” (see my website) yet not enough people seem willing to get that personal chemistry across via an advertisement.

More advice to follow folks…..

Key writing techniques

In my experience, there are two types of advertising techniques being used at the moment by businesses – direct response advertising and branding advertising. The former is by the far the most productive way of advertising for the smaller business as it allows a way of monitoring ROI usually through making  a direct ‘offer’ or appeal to the reader backed up with a simple call to action. The retail sector use this type of advertising i.e.”our product is now on sale at a reduced price, call us to find out more…”

Brand building or brand awareness advertising is becoming more and more dependent on the larger budgets and, as such, is something that is simply not possible for the smaller business.
With these facts in mind, it is not just the advertisement with the nice pictures in that work. More and more emphasis is being placed on the actual wording of the advert and, as such, I have put together some simple tips and areas to consider when writing content.
  1. Put the key points in the first line of each sentance to encourage people to read on
  2. never repeat the headline in the first line of the text
  3. keep in mind that you only have 5-10 seconds for your main message to be absorbed
  4. use simple, clear language
  5. avoid gender or age bias
  6. only ask questions that the reader will reply positively too
  7. use active rather than passive words
  8. check the friendliness of your work by reading out aloud – if it sounds stilted, start again
  9. keep lines to between 20 and 60 characters in length
  10. make sure that YOU is used more often that I or WE
  11. use evocative words to help paint the picture

Keep these in mind and your advertising will be more effective!

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