The Secret Formula for Successful Advertising

Here is the question most clients ask me: “What is the formula for advertising?  For each dollar spent on advertising, what percentage increase will I see in revenue?”

Unfortunately, there is no such formula.  If there was, believe me, it would not be a secret.  Every business school in the world would teach it, just like they teach other business theories.  If it were something that was recently discovered, the guy who discovered it would write a book and be making a mint off of it right now.  Sorry, such a formula does not exist.

But that doesn’t mean advertising is some sort of voodoo that has no basis in science or human nature.  In fact, there are three aspects to any form of advertising, and when all three are strongly in place, your advertising works.  Lets look at them.

The 3 Pillars of Advertising

These three “pillars” of advertising are 1.) the message you are giving, 2.) the number of people that are given the message, and 3.) the number of times those same people are given that same message.  All three pillars play an integral role in the success of your advertising and the success of your business, and if any one of three is weak or missing, then your advertising will be a costly disappointment.

Most of the ad sales people you will deal with will refer to #2 and #3 as “reach and frequency,” and will provide those numbers to you when they submit a proposal.  Notice that they only give you two of the three pillars; that’s because those two pillars, reach and frequency, are the only two they can control.  Media — TV, cable, radio, newspaper, billboards, even the internet — gives you people, specifically the people watching, reading, or engaging in that media.  The number of people watching or reading that media is your reach.  The number of ads you place with that media helps determine your frequency, or how many times those same people will get your message.

Those three elements or pillars — message, reach, and frequency — are the three things that make or break your advertising.  We will go more into each one of these Pillars of Advertising in future posts, but lets briefly look at what each pillar does and how they interact.

The Message

Your message is the first pillar.  No one will listen to your message unless it strikes some chord within them and they say, “yeah, I get that.”  Your message is very important.  If the message is true, and the message matters to the person hearing it, then you’re off to a good start.

Reach

The second pillar is reach, or the number of people that are given your message.   What is the right number? Well, that depends on your business.  A custom home builder who only needs to build 10 homes a year to be profitable only needs ten people to respond to his message each year.  Of course, not everyone whom he gives his message to will enlist his services, so he needs to reach more than that, but you get the picture.  A coffee shop or a hardware store needs to sell a whole lot more items to be profitable, so they will need to reach a lot more people.

Frequency

The third pillar is frequency, or the number of times the same set of people receive your message.  Have you ever found yourself having to repeat something that you have already said to someone?  You said it to them once, but then they forgot so you had to tell them again.  Advertising is like that.  People will forget you and your message if you don’t repeat it to them.  That is why frequency is important.  How often do you have to repeat it ?  Well, that depends on the person you are giving the message to.  Some personality types respond immediately the first time they see or hear something, but most personality types have to see or hear something several times before they make a decision.  Experienced sales people expect to talk to a person 5 or 6 times before they make a sale.  You should expect the same.

So there’s a quick overview of what I call the Three Pillars of Advertising.  You get these three things right, you’ll have a successful ad campaign and higher sales revenue.  We’ll talk more about these pillars in future posts so you can better understand how to put together effective advertising.

Oh, and one other thing:  notice that we didn’t mention a budget even once.  That’s because advertising doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective.

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