Tag Three Pillars of Advertising


Cheerleader cheeringWhen making an ad, most people want it to be exciting. That’s understandable. If people are excited about your product or service, they’re more likely to become customers. And besides, no one wants to be boring.

But exciting may not be the best choice.

While all ads must have an emotional pull, excitement is not an emotion that can be sustained. Excitement takes a lot of energy and you grow tired of it very quickly. Once your audience has become familiar with you – and that’s exactly what you want – you will not be exciting anymore.

Do you want people to grow tired of your ads? Then try to be exciting. You’ll get tired and your audience will get tired of it. You might get some short-term benefit, but it is not something that can be sustained.

But there is another reason excitement doesn’t work: you can’t manufacture it. You can jump up and down and cheer all you want to, but when you get people’s attention they will ask you, “What’s all the commotion about?” The answer to that question will determine whether or not the audience gets excited.

And that leads us to your message. The message is the most important part of your advertising. It’s more important to be relevant than it is to be exciting. People respond to relevance, and they never grow tired of it.

People buy products for a lot of reasons, but rarely do they buy something because its exciting. Make an emotional appeal that addresses the real reason people buy your product or service, and people will respond to your ad.


Have you considered cable?

When a small business owner thinks of advertising, they often think of the newspaper. That’s understandable. The local paper traditionally has been the best place to find out what’s happening in your local area. And despite its decline, it’s still probably the best place to find local news in a small town.

But there’s another advertising venue that deserves a look: cable television. Local cable television advertising is often a very effective way to advertise. Advertising rates are typically lower than a broadcast television station and often cable is the least expensive advertising in the area, yet you have the same advantages in communicating your message as you would if you advertised on broadcast television. So let’s take a closer look.

One of the biggest advantages of television advertising is that all the ads are the same size. Your ad will be the same size as the big national chains. You can show your product or demonstrate your service, show your store or office, and really let the people in your area get to know you even if they are not currently doing business with you. Since video involves sight and sound, the viewer is more engaged with your ad, which is why television commercials are typically remembered more than other forms of advertising.

You’ll still need to say your message in a way that strikes a chord with the viewer, which is true for all your advertising. But once you have your message, the effective engagement of video can create a powerful delivery.

The second advantage of cable is the cost. While it is true that broadcast TV reaches more people than cable, it is also true that broadcast TV costs a lot more. You pay less for cable precisely because it reaches less people than broadcast TV. And you should not be basing your advertising on whether you can reach more people somewhere else, but on how much it costs to reach the people who will be seeing your advertising. The lower cost of cable means that you can build the necessary frequency at a rate you can afford.

While the cost of cable varies market to market, often it is even less expensive than newspaper or radio and carries the potential to be far more effective. Don’t rule out advertising on cable television until you’ve given it a thorough look.


Keep it simple

A lot of emphasis is given to an ad’s message on this site. That’s because of the three pillars of successful advertising, the message is the hardest to get right. Occasionally you’ll find that the frequency was insufficient or the reach was non-existent in a particular failed campaign, but usually that’s not the case. Most often the message is at fault.

Very often small business ads have no message at all, they’re simply a list of services or products. Color printing has gotten cheap enough that you can put pictures all over your ad, and a lot of small businesses do so to such a degree that you can’t tell what you’re supposed to be looking at. If you are not saying anything, why should people listen?

The most powerful messages are always simple. It’s hard work to look at what you do and distill that down to one simple message, but it is essential to your advertising. An advertisement by its nature has to be short and succinct. Clutter it up with information that doesn’t support your message and you’ll just confuse people. Your advertising message has to compete with a lot of clutter and noise to be heard. Don’t make things more difficult by adding noise and clutter within your own ad.


Make your message strike a chord

Last week I wrote on the two most important things to do when making an ad. With that in mind, I’d like to share a TV spot that I did a while back for one of my clients, a jeweler in Wichita Falls.

For a jeweler, differentiating yourself from all the other jewelry stores in the area can be difficult. Every jeweler sells watches, rings, and bracelets, and does repairs as well. People expect that. So how do you get people to remember you when its time to buy a ring?

The way you do that is to come up with a message that resonates with people. When they hear your message, they think, “This guy gets it.” Because so few people seem to “get it” now days, you stand out.

The message we wanted to say with this ad is really simple: We have the gifts that are meaningful. Now that we have the message, all we need to do is say it well.  If we say the message well, in a way that strikes a chord with people, they’ll respond in a positive way.

The spot below was very successful. Your advertising can be successful, too.

Goldcreations Valentine’s Spot from Mike Mayfield on Vimeo.


The Art of the Billboard

Billboards are great venues for advertising your small business.  Billboards come with built in frequency, one of the three pillars of successful advertising.  People tend to drive the same routes over and over, whether they’re going to work or to the grocery store.  A well-placed billboard will be seen multiple times by a person driving that particular route.  That’s what we call frequency, and it is one of the reasons people usually recall billboard advertising better than other forms of print advertising.

Billboard artwork can be a little tricky to pull off successfully.  You see, in order for any advertisement to be effective, it must be noticed and understood, and this is where many billboards fail.

A billboard is typically seen while driving a car.  You are literally flying past the advertisement at 70 mph, or whatever the speed limit is where a particular billboard is located.  The billboard industry likes to say a person has 8 seconds to read a billboard, but I think it is more like 5 seconds, and even that is under ideal circumstances.  In order for a billboard to be effective, it must be seen and understood in 5 seconds or less!

There are lots of ways to effectively communicate with a billboard in 5 seconds, but there are many more ways to sink that effort.  The three most common ways to make an ineffective billboard are small type, too much information, and low-contrast color schemes.

You’d think that it would be a no-brainer that you need to make the words on a billboard big enough to be seen at a distance, but I commonly see national brands putting up billboards that are difficult to read while driving past them in a car.

Small businesses are usually guilty of the trying to cram too much information onto the billboard.  A lot of times this is some sort of contact information but not always.  When was the last time you wrote down a telephone number you saw on a billboard?  There may be a few who have done it once or twice, but most people have never done it.  Not even once.  And in 5 seconds, you’re certainly not going to memorize that phone number as you drive by in your car.

Any advertisement should only have one message. If the purpose of your billboard is to remind people where you are at, then only put your location and leave out your phone number altogether.  And when you put your location, don’t put your address.  Put something readily identifiable, like the closest street intersection.  Which is a better locator:  “2378 Elm”, or “Near Elm and Polk St.”?

Low-contrast color schemes are the other big billboard killer.  What works for a newspaper or magazine ad, or even a business card, may not work for a billboard.

Billboards are seen at a distance.  It’s not unusual for a billboard to be elevated up 20 feet or more, so even if you are standing right next to the billboard structure, you will still be 20 feet or more away from the ad copy.  The road usually will be even further away.  If the text, pictures and background are not clearly distinguishable from each other, then you won’t be able to read the billboard at a distance, and it will certainly not be understandable in 5 seconds or less.

So if your going to advertise on a billboard, make sure the print is large enough to be read at a distance, there’s not too much information and clutter, and it has a high-contrast color design.  Then you’ll have a good start on having an effective billboard.


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.


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.


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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