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December 17, 2014

Stop it already with the bad marketing! Part 2: Advertising

Last week, we started a series discussing how to address much of the bad marketing taking place in our industry… horrible websites, rarely used social media sites, far-too-salesy e-newsletters, boring exhibits and so on.

This week, we’ll take a look at ADVERTISING.

While all of the comments below apply to print advertising, many of them apply to banner ads and pay-per-click (PPC) ads, too.

  1. Too wordy. For some reason, advertisers in our industry want to fill up their ads with as much information as possible. (These are the same people who also put 10 bullet points on every slide of their capabilities presentation!) In advertising, less is more. Edit, edit and edit some more. Prospective clients who see your ad will not take the time to read every word… they need to be able to distill what you’re saying in a quick glance. If there are too many words… they skip right over it.
  2. Lousy imagery. A print ad should be a “visual train wreck”… you shouldn’t be able to look away! Unfortunately, with all of those words (see #1), there is little room left for a great image. Work with your ad agency/designer to find an image that “stops” the readers in their tracks… once you do that, you give them the opportunity to actually read the ad.
  3. No focus to the ad. Again, related to #1 above… too many advertisers in our industry try to get too many points across in the same ad. It only confuses the readers… who then move on. Pick one key Value Proposition and focus on it with everything in the ad – the words, the imagery and the call to action. And if you have more than one thing to say… focus on something different in the next ad (see #9 below).
  4. Writing for yourself, not your prospects. Far too many ads boast of the advertiser’s great service, great staff and great products. Remember this: People don’t care about what you can do… they care about what you can do for them! You need to write your ads through their eyes. Write about what’s important to them and what kinds of problems you can solve for them. Focus on benefits, not features.
    • A side note: Spend some time on this. Too many MRers rush this and end up using those hackneyed phrases we see everywhere (like “actionable insights”). And even if ‘actionable insights’ is a good phrase, if everyone is using it (which they are), then it makes you look like every other firm – and that’s not a good thing.
  5. A lousy headline. Like a “train wreck” image, your ad must contain an attention-grabbing headline (this is especially important with online ads where you have much less space to work with). Use #4 to guide you… don’t put your company name or your product name in the headline… focus on the value and benefit of working with your firm.
  6. No instructions for the reader. What do you want the reader to do after viewing your ad? Call, click, go to your website, download something, watch a video, take advantage of a special offer? You have to tell them in a clear Call to Action (CTA) at the bottom of every ad.
  7. How to get in touch? What if you ad is compelling? That’s great… right? Yes… IF they can get in touch with you. On your print ads, always remember to include your logo (for branding), your website address, an email address and a phone number. Make it easy to get in touch with you.
  8. Who is the ad from? You probably have all kinds of marketing going on… ads, website, social media sites, presentations, exhibits, etc. And in order for them to work together and increase the top-of-mind awareness and position of your firm in the marketplace, there needs to be a high level of consistency between them. No, not exact replicas… but a strong, consistent use of colors, fonts and style, so that when someone sees your ad, they’re saying to themselves… “I know this firm!” because they’ve seen some of your other marketing.
  9. Thinking one ad is enough. There’s an interesting corollary between firms that run just one ad and firms that say “advertising doesn’t work.” It’s the same group! Getting your message to sink in and raise top-of-mind awareness in the marketplace takes repetition and time. If you’re going to use advertising in your marketing mix (and you should)… work with your ad agency and/or the channels where you’re advertising to craft a plan that touches prospects multiple times over a period of time.

Advertising can and should be an important part of how you go to market. It’s a great way to build brand recognition, help to launch new services and products and support your sales effort. But far too many in our industry seem unwilling to do it right. Don’t be one of them. Think strategically, plan effectively and execute like crazy!

Need help with your website? If the words above hit a little too close to home, maybe we can help. For a limited time, Harpeth Marketing will provide a no-obligation, no-cost Advertising audit for any firm in the MR industry. To discuss scheduling your audit, Click Here.

Next week… Email marketing.

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