Where can you turn?

Part of crafting a strong message is saying it well. This entails coming up with the best way to say something, putting together an ad with an appealing look, or something as simple as having complimentary colors in the ad.

But more than just looking good, the look and tone of the ad must support the message. If you run a western wear store, then choosing a font for the text that recalls the Old West is an obvious choice. But it goes beyond even that. People who wear western-style clothing are choosing a particular life-style. You want to really get their attention, then make them taste the dust of a herd of cattle and smell the leather of saddles and boots. It doesn’t matter that they work in an office, they’re a cowboy at heart. (See What Do You Really Sell?)

Putting together an ad that hits all the right chords is hard work. It’s the one area of advertising that small businesses need the most help in. Some business owner’s realize this, but unfortunately they don’t always turn to someone who can actually help them create effective advertising.

Although a plumber knows how to use a wrench, you wouldn’t call a plumber to fix your automobile. But many small business owners think that anyone who can use Photoshop can make them an ad or logo. So they turn to a local print shop, because logos and ads need to be printed, right?

Printing is not the same thing as designing, or more importantly, its not the same as communicating a specific message. This goes for every advertising or marketing medium you can think of.

Every newspaper and local magazine will make you an ad if you need one to run in their publication. But what is their expertise? Is it creating articles and content that will attract readers? Do they specialize in communicating a message that resonates beyond a 4″x4″ space?

The billboard company will make you an ad to run on their billboards, as will the television station, cable company, radio station, etc. But if the truth be told, they only offer that service so they don’t have to turn away customers who don’t have an ad to run. Those businesses are good at what they do, but they may not be good at creating an effective advertisement.

Most of the ads I see from these sources are little more than lists of products or services. Sometimes they hit a home run and deliver something great, but that’s the exception, not the rule. It’s not that these people don’t know what they are doing, its just that they work for a company that does not make ads. Instead, they work for a company that runs ads. There’s a big difference there. Their focus is to get you on the air or in the next issue. Your message is not their main concern.

So what should you do? If you’ve been reading this blog and doing your homework, you probably already have an idea of what your message should be. Ask around, google a bit, and find someone who does creative work in the medium you want to be in and form a relationship with them. If you do a lot of print or web, look for a talented graphic designer. If you want to do TV or radio, then google a lot and find a copywriter who can write your spots and a production company that can produce them. It will take work, but as I tell my kids, everything that is worth doing takes effort.

You’ll have to guide these people. You’ll have to keep them on track. But once they understand what you are doing they’ll be a huge asset in creating great advertising. In the end, you’ll get better results than simply having your ad made by whoever happens to be running it.

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