Thursday, October 18, 2007

Making your LIST and checking it twice

It seems like we make lists for everything these days. Groceries, Errands, Christmas presents. But for our businesses, do we make ENOUGH lists? Especially those that can help us save money? I suggest not.
But it's not too late. With just 75 days before Christmas, and lots of advertising still to be done, I offer you a checklist to make your advertising be the most effective it can be.
Use it to save your store money- this holiday season and beyond.

Here are some guidelines for creating memorable advertising that really sells:
1) Make sure your ads are "on strategy" with your business positioning. A good positioning strategy ensures identification of the correct target audience for your advertising, along with a listing of meaningful features and benefits. It can provide reasons why the product is superior and unique, along with an advertising "personality."
Key to success: Communicate a simple, single message. People have trouble remembering someone's name, let alone a complicated ad message. Use the "KISS" principle for ad messages: "Keep It Simple, Simon." For print ads, the simpler the headline, the better. And every other ad element should support the headline message, whether that message is "price," "selection," "quality," or any other single-minded concept.

2) Stick with a likable style. Ads have personality and style. Find a likable style and personality and stay with it for at least a year or more of ads. Changing ad styles and personality too often will confuse potential buyers. It also fights against memorability.
Key to success: Be credible. If you say your quality or value is the "best" and it is clearly not, advertising will speed your demise, not increase your business. Identifying and denigrating the competition should also be avoided. It is potentially confusing and distracting and may backfire on you by making buyers more loyal to competitive products, not less.

3) Ask for the sale. Invite buyers to come to your store, send for more information, or call for information and orders in the ad. Provide easily visible information in the ad for potential customers to buy: location, telephone number, store hours, charge cards accepted, etc.
Key to success: Make sure the ad is competitive. Do your homework. Examine competitive ads in the media that you are planning to advertise in. Make sure your ad stands out from competitive ads. Compare ads for uniqueness, memorability, credibility, and incentive to purchase.

4) Make sure the ad looks professional. If you have the time and talent, computer graphics and desktop publishing software can provide professional-looking templates to create good-looking print ads. Consider obtaining writing, artistic, and graphics help from local agencies or art studios who have experienced professionals on staff, with expensive and creative computer software in-house. They may save you time and money in the long run, with better results.
Key to success: Looks matter. The professional image you portray in your advertising will go a long way in getting your customers to the door.

5) Be truthful. Whatever advertising medium you select, make sure your message is ethical and truthful. There are stringent laws regarding deceptive practices and false advertising.
Key to success: If you don't believe in what you are saying, neither will your potential customers.

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