Thursday, December 3, 2009

What to do When Your Advertising Doesn't Work.

All too often I have heard clients say "Advertising doesn't work for us" after a single appearance of their ad - sometimes even after trying only one media.
Pro Historian
Independent with my own idealism.

There are a number of things you can do if you want to know for sure whether advertising works or not for you. The first of them is to give your ad a fair chance.

Follow these basic rules and enjoy learning what the best way is for you to advertise. If your advertising doesn't work, it is probable that one of these rules has not been followed.

Rules for making your print advertising work

1. Give yourself a fair sample to evaluate. As a rule of thumb, you
should take no fewer than 3 insertions in a weekly or monthly
magazine and 5 insertions in a daily title. Only the fanatical
reader will read front to back of every issue. You need to allow for
readers going on vacation, or just those who might miss an issue.
You also want to give them a fair chance to have a need for your
product. You can only make a decision about whether a publication's
readership provides a viable source of leads once you have given
them all a fair chance to respond.

2. Ensure your ad is given prominence. Why do the bad boys sit at
the back of the class? So the teacher pays them less attention. In
advertising you want to be right at the front of the class all the
time. Unless you ask for it, you're not going to get it. Always ask
for a right-hand page (it really makes a big difference). Don't be
afraid to press for other positions too if you think they will make
a difference. You can even make them bargaining chips in your
negotiation. For example, "Promise me top-right of a right-hand page
and I'll book the ad now". Few Ad Sales reps will be able to resist

3. Compare results over a number of different media. Don't put all
your eggs in one basket – and don't move sequentially from one media
to the next until you find one that works. Test 3, 4 or more if you
can, all at the same time so you can compare results like for like
over the same timeframe.

4. Perform tests to maximize response. A fair test is one that is
directly comparable to another. Ideally therefore, you should give
each test exactly the same terms. (Same shelf life in the same
publication). The sort of tests you can try include:
a. Headlines
b. Copy
c. Call to action
d. Ad size
e. Colour/mono
f. Other creative changes – register at and get a
free copy of "8 Creative Techniques for Small Press Advertisements",
for more test examples.

5. Allow for differences between publications. Sometimes, certain
media really do not work – even ones that we thought had to produce
a ton of leads have been known to disappoint. There is normally a
rational reason for it –perhaps it is not a readership that responds
to classified advertisements; perhaps the readership figure is
actually a lot lower than the circulation figure.

In our experience, we have found that controlled circulation or free
publications are those most likely to produce disappointing results.
It stands to reason after all, if you get something for free, you
are less likely to read it from front to back than one you pay good
money for.

You should allow for this in your campaign consideration so that you
don't expect too much from a publication that cannot deliver. There
will be other criteria too that will affect what sort of response
you should expect – criteria such as the circulation volume,
demographics, frequency. Take account of these criteria when
planning an acceptable level of response.

6. Beware the advice of your Ad sales rep. Whatever you do, if your
advertisement gives disappointing results, be careful before you
take the advice of your friendly sales rep. S/he will argue that you
should try running it with a bigger size, perhaps to allow a larger
headline – or to give it a longer span so the readership have time
to respond properly.

Remember, however helpful they are, media sales people have
completely different motives to you. Of course they want your ad to
work. Then you'll be more likely to advertise again. But just
remember, they get paid the same whether you get one response or a
hundred. You don't. Always remain in control of your ad spend and
don't let them tempt you to deviate from your budget.

I hope you will find this useful in planning your ad campaign. If
you follow the advice I have given here, I am confident that you
will enjoy more success with your print advertising campaigns.

Pro Historian
Independent with my own idealism.

The best brands always try to do the right thing, so that their
reputations will remain unsullied. But beyond that they grow, evolve
and get better with time, while maintaining their special qualities
from the past.

We all have a personal brand with social, cultural, intellectual, and
personal needs that may not necessarily be addressed in our daily
work. Address these needs and you begin to improve your brand. Here
is my agenda for building your brand.

Join and participate in community and professional organizations
Generate media coverage about your brand
Stay in touch, or renew old ties with friends, family and business
Let?s examine how each one improves your brand.

Join and participate in professional and community organizations
The best brands grow, evolve and get better with time, while
maintaining their special qualities from the past.

Professional and community organizations provide ample opportunity to
learn and grow.

They provide professional development opportunities. They allow you
to network with peers as well as with people you would not
necessarily ever meet in the normal course of your workday.

For instance, I am a member and served on the board of our local
International Association of Business Communicators chapter. This
allowed me to broaden my contacts in the corporate communications
world, as well as form a number of friendships I probably never would
have developed. I?m also a member of the North Carolina Citizens For
Business and Industry. Here I meet people from all walks of life and
all work disciplines. Finally, I am involved with Charlotte Reads, a
local non-profit that focuses on literacy issues. This allows me to
use my communication experience in support of an issue I feel very
strongly about.

But it?s not enough to just join groups: you must participate to
benefit fully. As a participant you have the opportunity to stretch,
to gain confidence in yourself. Learn to lead by involvement on the
board or in a special project.

If you are a communicator by trade, try being treasurer for the group
to exercise the other side of your brain, or take on a special
project about which you feel strongly.

Generate media coverage about your brand
All that professional and community involvement will certainly lead
to opportunities to leverage that involvement into news about the
brand called you. And, of course, there will be promotions, new
assignments, and awards at work, too. More opportunities to make

Your achievements are of interest to local print, broadcast, and
online media, particularly the business pages. In Charlotte, the
Observer has a weekly feature called On The Move spotlighting someone
in a new position. The Charlotte Business Journal has a similar
feature called Moving Up. If it is a big enough move and your company
won?t do it, pay the estimated $150 to place it on BusinessWire or PR
Newswire. Consider it an investment in your future. Don?t forget
trade publications serving your industry and alumni publications.

Seek out speaking engagements and write guest articles, too. This is
yet another way to publicize your brand. And don?t forget to do news
releases when you make a speech or write an article. It?s all about

To stay top of mind, you might even want to develop your own monthly
e-newsletter like Think, the Hoover ink publication. Keep it mostly
informational and limit the commercial material.

Stay in touch, or renew old ties with friends, family and business
Everyone you know can be a brand ambassador for you, so stay in touch
or reach out to those you haven?t talked with for a while.

Yet another reason for having a monthly newsletter that shares your

The network of contacts you have built over your lifetime will be
instrumental if you decide to start your own business, or change jobs.

So, heed this word of advice: always deal fairly with people. One bad
experience with your brand can negate 10 positive ones.

Now, get out there and start branding.

Pro Historian
Independent with my own idealism.

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