Saturday, February 5, 2011

Basic Principles of Advertising

Sell people things but always buy their friendship – Sir Naeem


Advertising is the business of drawing public attention to goods and services. When you begin to create advertising for your product or service, keep these suggestions in mind:
1.      Don’t make promises you can’t live up to. Although your ad may draw more people to your product initially, you can’t retain these people as loyal customers in the long run if you make promises you can’t keep.
2.      Identify the best features of whatever it is you’re selling and develop your advertising around these features. Think about how your product stands out from the competition, what sets it apart, and then focus on those attributes.
3.      Try to create a memorable advertising message for your product. You want people to think of your store, your product, or your professional service whenever they’re in the market for such a thing.

The Message of Advertising

If your message is creative, clear, and concise, if your product or service is
something that can truly benefit people and live up to its hype, then you’re
on the road to producing effective advertising. If your advertising makes bold promises about your product, you may convince a lot of people to try it. But if those people buy your product and give it a try, and the product turns out to be less than you advertised it to be, you will most certainly never see those consumers again. Think about it: How many times have you responded to an advertising message for a new, improved, astounding product, only to be disappointed with the item after you tried it? You probably even felt like you’d been ripped off. If your advertising message leaves consumers with the same feeling, you simply won’t get anywhere. One good promise on which you can truly deliver is better than trying to be all things to all people. On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar. Never write an advertisement you wouldn’t want your own family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell lies to mine. In advertising, every word in the copy must count you sell or else. Advertise only what is unique.

Identifying and Targeting Your Audience

To begin the creative process of finding your one-of-a-kind message and understand your audience, ask yourself a few simple questions:

  1. What are you selling, and what makes it so unique? For example, if you need to sell kids toys, what makes your merchandise different from what people can buy from other big retail chains? Are the toys handmade, imported from other countries, or vintage?
  2. To whom do you want to sell it? In other words, who exactly are you targeting as your ideal consumer? Parents, of course, but what type of parent? Do you want to target wealthy, upscale parents, who are most interested in educational games that will help their kids learn, for example? You may also think about marketing to aunts, uncles, and grandparents, who often want to spend more on their nieces, nephews, and grandchildren than the parents do.
  3. Why should people buy the product or service from you? Are you open very late at night so that parents who work long hours can drop by your store? Do you offer free delivery of large items so that walk-in customers don’t have to lug your product home? Are you (and your staff) especially knowledgeable and approachable about suggesting great toys for different age groups?
Words that Sell

Certain words and phrases, when used in advertising, have a better-than-ever
chance of attracting consumers’ attention. You see these words over and
over again in ads, but their overuse is a direct result of their effectiveness.
Different words or phrases work for different types of businesses, though.
Here are some examples of words and phrases that sell in the retail industry:

  1. Clearance
  2. Discount
  3. Everything must go
  4. Final closeout
  5. Free
  6. Going out of business
  7. Grand opening
The challenge lies in walking a fine line between using simple, easy-to-grasp words and phrases and writing the way people think (in everyday conversational English). Bottom line: Make your ads simple in their language but creative in their content and presentation. If you offer a service instead of providing a product, many of the words from the previous list still work. “Free,” for example, always gets consumers’ attention, as does “new.” The following appealing words and phrases, however, are specific to the service industry:

  1. Great service
  2. Free pickup and delivery
  3. On time
  4. Trial offer
  5. Professional
  6. Family owned and operated
  7. Guaranteed service
  8. Money saving
  9. Dependable (or reliable)
  10. High quality
  11. References available from satisfied customers
Go through your newspaper and look at the ads. Certain words and phrases
used by most advertisers will quickly become apparent to you. Now you
know what I mean when I say that these words sell. They form a similar
thread that runs through most advertising. If you can use any of these words
and phrases in your advertising, by all means include them. If they’re good
enough for the other advertisers in your area, they’ll most certainly be good
enough for you.

Make an ad, not an encyclopedia

The primary mistake made in many print ads is verbosity. The philosophy seems to be: Why use 5 words when 500 words will do? Readers aren’t interested in how to make a fine Swiss watch. They’re only interested in how much money they can save if they buy the watch from you. A brief headline is particularly important. A headline reading, “50 PERCENT SAVINGS” is better than one reading,  Everything storewide has been marked down 50 percent.” Making your headline brief, intriguing, and easy to grasp, most certainly, enhances your ad’s effectiveness. Trying to fit too much information into the headline can be self-defeating. Use the subhead or the body copy for the nuts and bolts of your sales pitch. Keep your body copy brief and your graphic elements relevant and bold. That way, you make it easy for your readers to grasp what you’re trying to say and what you’re striving to sell. Just because you’ve spent a fair amount of money to buy the ad space doesn’t mean that you have to fill it wall-to-wall. An ad that’s easy for the reader to understand may be rewarded with the reader dropping into your store or contacting you, credit card poised and at the ready! Do what I do: Write your ad, and then go back and see how many superfluous words you can eliminate until your copy is as tight as it can possibly be. In print copy, less is more!


Your advertising is like radios or TVs. They  are there to get the attention of your listeners and viewers— people you want to become customers if they aren’t already. Before you sit down and start writing, consider: If you want your ad to be effective, keep it short and following these final guidelines.

  1. Grab the listeners’ attention
  2. Tell them something they want to hear
  3. Sell them something they may not need
  4. Mention the name of your business several times
  5. Get your phone number or Web address indelibly written into their brains
  6. Motivate them with a call to action (something that tells your reader what to do, such as “Call today for the best prices!” or “In stores now!”)
You can also use Collateral advertising. It has numerous purposes — and the different kinds of collateral advertising at your disposal are numerous as well. You should research carefully, always keeping your budget in mind, to determine which form of collateral advertising best suits your needs. Types of collateral ads include: Brochures, Post cards, Business Cards and and Newsletters. 

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