Jeremy Cohen | 11 Oct, 2010
Behind every disappointing small business advertisement there is at least one reason for its failure. The good news is that any flaw with your advertising can be corrected, if you are willing to try new ideas.
Unless you are in the advertising business, chances are your strongest skills are not in advertising. If you are like many small business people, your small business advertisements are likely guilty of at least one of several common flaws.
Identifying what is wrong with your advertising is the first step toward making corrections that will result in greater response, increased revenue and stronger profits.
Following are descriptions of five common characteristics of highly flawed small business advertising. There are more, but correcting these will make for a great start.
Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking a bigger market is a better market when choosing where to run their ads. The result is they spend their advertising dollars to reach a larger but less focused market.
Are the places you choose to run your ad laser-focused on your market?
When your ads are focused squarely on your market you increase the likelihood that the readers who see your ad will actually have a need for your service. The more effectively you place your advertising in front of an 'already interested' market the more likely they will be predisposed to noticing and reacting to your ad, which is what you want.
For example, imagine your company specializes in helping law firms reduce the cost of prosecuting long, ongoing cases. If you choose to run a series of full page ads in the New York Times instead of the New York Law Journal you will likely be disappointed by the response to your campaign; despite reaching the considerably larger audience of the New York Times you would be missing the focused attention of the legal minded readership of the New York Law Journal.
How can you tell whether or not you can focus your advertising on a more receptive market?
Lack of distinction
The next most common problem with small business advertising is that advertisements for companies in the same industry often fail to distinguish themselves from their competition.
How can you expect to win the lion's share of your market if your advertisements pretty much look the same and contain the same elements as those of your competition?
Furthermore, distinguishing your company from your competitors is often made more difficult because, within a given advertising vehicle, advertisements for companies in similar industries appear virtually on top of each other. This scenario is particularly true for yellow pages listings and pay-per-click advertising. In order to succeed with your advertising your ads need to stand out and above those of your competition.
For example, if you are the owner of a pet supply company and your ads simply say, "We Sell Pet Supplies" they will be passed over along with every other bland advertisement for Fido's food.
On the other hand, your ads will stand out and attract much more attention to your shop if you state that you sell, "King Sized Bones and Bowls for the Royalty in Your Family." By focusing your ads on the owners of large breed dogs you distinguish yourself from the crowd of pet shops that simply sell pet supplies and make it clear to the owners of large dogs that you sell what they need.
Be sure the copy of your ads has the effect of making what you offer unique. Your highly targeted prospects will reward you by noticing the difference in your ads and buying from you.
Do your ads distinguish your business clearly above your competition?
Failure to demonstrate value
Another property of flawed advertising is that it fails to demonstrate the value of any products or services provided. By failing to demonstrate value in your advertisements you give your prospects only a foggy idea of the benefits you provide and no clear reason to buy from you. Demonstrating value will also help you set yourself apart from you competitors.
How can you change your ads to demonstrate the value you provide?
Too much focus on products and services
Consumers buy products and services because they fill a need or solve a problem. If your ad copy focuses too much on your company and the products and services you provide you miss your opportunity to demonstrate to your prospects that you provide the solution they need.
For example, imagine you are recovering from knee surgery and need to work with a physical therapist to regain your full range of motion. Would you be more likely to choose a therapist who advertises his new and modern equipment or the one who advertises that she will have your knee working and feeling like new again in just three weeks?
What should you focus your advertising on instead of your products and services?
Lack of a clear call to action
A fifth characteristic of a highly flawed advertising is a lack of a clear call to action. An ad without a clear call to action is like calling 911 and not telling the operator where you are. Why bother calling?
Don't assume that your prospects know what they should do once they've read your ad. You need to tell them to be sure they know.
If you've gotten their attention, demonstrated your value and shown them that you are the solution to their problem, don't waste your good work by neglecting to instruct them to take the next step and contact you.
(Source Articles Base)
* Jeremy Cohen is a freelance writer
* The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his/her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of SME Times.