What Should My Ads Say?

Make it strong, make it clear, make it what they want to hear.

You know who your customers are, and you've figured out where to find them. Now, what the heck do you say to them? What can you tell them that will make them drag their butts off the couch and make the effort to come to your location?

One thing is for sure. Letting people simply know that you exist (another shoe store, another book store, another restaurant, another you-name-it) will not work. People are creatures of habit. Unless you give them a really, really good reason to change, they will continue to make their purchases from the businesses they're already familiar with. Period.

I can also tell you that offering a 10% discount on anything is a worthless offer. People won't move for 10%.  The shopping public has been spoiled with coupons, huge discounts, rebates, and deals.

So unless you want to start playing that game, which is more often than not "mark it up to mark it down" -- and people are sophisticated enough to know if the original price on an item has been jacked up -- give them another reason to shop with you. Find your true specialty. Is the quality of your product better? Is your selection unmatched in your area? Is your service better? You need a reason, and if you don't have one, if you're just another store, you're in trouble right off the bat. 

OK - you have your hook. Make it the highlight of your message. You can pull together an Image Ad, or a Motivational Ad. Truthfully, I think all ads are and should be motivational, but the advertising business does distinguish between the two types.

A Motivational Ad gives a reason to rush to your location immediately to take advantage of a special offer. Or it can give general price and item information that your customers can always enjoy at your store...but not at your competitor's locations. You have the largest breakfast buffet in town, you carry hard-to-find collector items, a popular band is appearing at your location, your BBQ sauce is a family secret, or you're the exclusive outlet for a particular brand of clothing, shoes, tools, etc.  Whatever your particular specialty is, load it into your motivational advertising.

An Image Ad gives a "feeling" about your business and makes no mention of specific price and item information. Image ads are run all the time by large beverage companies, shampoo and toothpaste commercials, etc. You know the ones. They show happy people in envious or heartwarming circumstances, and the product is shown or mentioned. But they don't tell you how much the product costs, or if there is a sale going on. 

Most small businesses can't afford to do this because they need every ad to be as motivational as it can get. But once you're established, you can mix some image advertising in with your critical motivational ads. In my book, Advertising Without an Agency, I show you how to do this without busting your budget.

One voice or two? In a 60-second radio commercial you have room for two voices and some sound effects. In 30-second ads you have less time to horse around. By the time you give your business name two times and your address, business hours, and phone number, not to mention URL, you've almost run out of time. Go for one voice and no-nonsense copy with the shorter ad. On TV, of course, you will use 30-second ads in general. With either, you can add frequency into your schedule by mixing in a sprinkling of 10-second or 15-second ads..

Do you have questions about the ads you're running? Send them to me by email.

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