Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Four "I's" of Advertising

The task of your company's marketing program is to create opportunities for you to sell your products and service. A vital part of this marketing effort is an advertising component that not only supports your sales force, but actually precedes the sales effort.

An effective ad campaign produces four "I's" for your company: Interest, Image, Information and Inquiries.

1. Interest
The first job of any advertisement is to grab the attention of the audience. If an ad does not have "stopping power," it is a waste of space or time. Potential customers must have a reason to become interested before they will read or listen to your ad.

Bold graphics, intriguing headlines, informative photographs or illustrations and attractive layouts are all ways to make readers stop, look and pay attention. Ads that are thrown together with little regard to these important elements deserve the fate they receive-fading away into the background. To be sold, you must be bold.

2. Image
Your advertising is the public face of your company. Potential customers may never meet you, may never visit your gleaming offices, may not even see your delivery truck!

But, like it or not, they will form an opinion of your company through the only means available-your advertising. Obviously, the version of your company presented in your ads should be the one most likely to elicit a positive response from the audience.

Look at your advertising with a customer's eye. Is your ad sloppily produced? Crammed with copy? Run on a spotty and irregular schedule? Readers (or listeners) will notice these details. They will equate "sloppy and irregular" with your company.

On the other hand, an ad that is clever, clean and attractive will serve to show the world that you take pride in your work and your company's image. Now, which ad will "turn off" a potential customer, and which will make them sit up and take notice?

3. Information
Now that you have their attention and good will, what will you say to your potential customers? Tell them what they want to hear.

"How can your product or service save me time or money? How can it solve my problems? Why will I be better off if I buy from you? Don't sell me on features, sell me on benefits."

The key is to ignore what you see as features and concentrate on what the customer needs in the way of benefits. Deodorant makers don't sell dry underarms-they sell social acceptance. Family restaurants don't sell good tasting food-they sell convenient fun for all. Automobile manufacturers don't sell transportation-they sell excitement and status. You do not sell oil-you provide comfort, convenience and safety.

4. Inquiries
A good salesperson always "asks for the sale," a function too often overlooked in advertising. While you can seldom close the deal in the newspaper, every ad should attempt to make a connection between your company and the audience.

Ask the reader to call or write to order or to get more information. Offer free literature. Invite the customer to visit your office. Use a toll-free telephone number or postage-paid reply card to make it as easy as possible for the customer to connect with you. Get that name, address and phone number!

This is called a qualified lead. Here is someone who has taken the time and effort to express an interest in your product or service. This is a bona fide opportunity to sell. By creating an atmosphere in which a potential customer makes the first move, your chances of actually selling to this person are four time greater than if you had approached them via a "cold call."

Now follow up as if your business depended on it. Return the call, send the brochure, make the appointment. Advertising's "Four I's" have put you in an enviable position.

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