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  • Creating Your Ad - Where Cost Effective Advertising Begins

    Much of the advertising you see or hear is pretty or entertaining, but it doesn't sell.

    Don't make that mistake. It's money wasted.

    Strategic Beginnings.

    Before you ever think about the ad itself, there are several questions you must answer. Your responses are the basis of the advertising message you want to convey.

    The book The Guerilla Marketing Handbook by Godin and Levinson recommends you answer seven key questions before attempting to design your advertising campaign. Knowing the answers will keep you on track, save you money, and ensure a better response.

    Take the time to write down your answers to each one. You might want to ask your employees for their thoughts as well. The more input the better at the beginning stages. Several people working together almost always come up with more ideas and alternatives than one person working alone.

    Once you have a fairly comprehensive set of answers, you can refine them. Eliminate the ones that are off track. Coordinate those that hit the target. When you're done, you'll have a much clearer idea of exactly what business you are in, who your competition is, and who your customers are.

    1. What Products and Services Do You Sell?

    Be specific, but don't go overboard with detail. It's appropriate to list "fresh arrangements;" however, you shouldn't list all the different types of arrangements unless you specialize in them. You should end up with a list of the major categories of products and services available from your shop.

    2. What Benefit Does Each Offer?

    Remember, a benefit is what the customer wants. The features of your product bring the benefits.

    Example. Delivery. The feature of this service is that the product is delivered to the recipient's door. You might be tempted to list that as the benefit of delivery. However, what's the real benefit to the customer? Convenience! That's what the customer wants.

    3. What Is Your Target Market?

    Are you trying to sell to businesses or individual consumers? The answer may be both. A different advertising approach is required for each.

    For commercial accounts, define the type of business you'll be selling to. For individuals, you should identify income levels and lifestyles. Don't forget to include geography. Where are the customers you are targeting?

    Knowing which segment of the population you're going after will help you pick the media that is aimed at the right group of people.

    4. Who is Your Competition?

    What other businesses in your marketplace are trying to sell the same products and services that give the same benefits to the target market you are after? You might be surprised to find how few competitors you have.

    On the other hand, if there are many competitors after the same customers, you should rethink your approach. What can you do differently what will set you apart? Are there other benefits you can offer?

    Trying to go after the same customers as other larger competitors is a difficult - and usually losing - proposition.

    5. How Are You Different From the Competition?

    Differences affect positioning. Think about the major ways you differ from the competition. At a minimum, your location makes you different. A high traffic, convenient location would set you apart for certain customers.

    Is there a difference in your delivery practices? What about guarantees, shop hours, product specialization, product variety, or special promotions? Is the ambiance of your shop unusual or special?

    Any one of these may allow you to create your own distinctive position in the marketplace.

    6. What's the Main Point You Want to Make?

    Focus. Don't try to cover the waterfront with a single ad. Most consumers won't remember more than one or two distinctive points from any ad.

    The image you want to build in your customer's mind needs to be repeated over and over again in your various ads. So, once you settle on your strategic direction, make sure all your ads tie in.

    Think about all the ads you saw or heard from Avis Rent-a-Car. If you remember, "We're number two and trying harder," you're living proof of the results of a focused campaign.

    7. What Action Do You Want the Reader to Take?

    Never have an ad without some requested action. Pure image advertising is expensive and best left to the big boys with mega-budgets.

    As a small business, you need your readers to act. Respond.

    Now You Can Move Ahead.

    The answers to these seven questions will keep you from going down the wrong path when you start the creative process. The result will be a more effective ad with fewer dollars spent.

     

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