Sunday, August 22, 2010

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.

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 that!

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.

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