Press Advertising - How to get real results from your ads

Ignore what people say about your ads and focus on RESULTS!

People say they hate the infomercials on TV and they grumble about direct mail catalogues in their letterboxes – BUT boy do they spend money as a result.

Businesses that test and measure their marketing, quickly discover that it’s often the ads that people hate that do the most selling. So before you start marketing to build your business you need to decide whether you have the courage to see it through. Successful business people like Michael Hill and Stephen Tindall of the Warehouse ignored people’s negative comments about their ads – people said they didn’t like their ads, yet they spent millions as a result of seeing them.

The moment you stop wasting money on useless brand advertising and start using effective scientific marketing, people will start complaining. Your staff will whine that your ads look ugly and sound boring, your ‘friends’ will moan that your brochures are too wordy, and your customers will say they are sick of hearing your radio ads. So do yourself a favour and decide now what you are going to do when the grumbling starts – are you going to bow to public opinion, or are you going to focus only on the actual results of your marketing?


The ads that people say they hate, often get the best results!


How to write an ad that actually works!

STOP thinking about your business and just for a minute, put yourself in your customer’s shoes!
Your customer is NOT interested in your business – they’re human, which means they care most about themselves!  Research shows that the ads that work best concentrate on what the customer is interested in. So for instance, if you are a dentist, don’t talk in your ad about the new dentist who has just joined your staff (you care, but they don’t!). Talk instead about what interests your customers! They are ‘interested’ in the pain you might inflict on them. They are interested in what others will think of them when they smile. They are interested in the common belief that dentists are expensive. So talk about those things in your ad, and readership and response will increase!

"A trip to the dentist without pain or fear?  – The six steps we take to make this possible for you and your family." This type of headline appeals to customers because it talks about THEIR interests, not yours!

If you are in the furniture business you can talk about your customer’s interests in your ad like this: "How often have you bought a piece of furniture that doesn’t really go with anything else in the room?  Follow this 5-step guide to choosing furniture".

If you are a plumber, you know very well what interests your customer, so talk about it in your ad! Your customer is ‘interested’ in the fact that most plumbers turn up late.  They don’t care about silly slogans like "no job too big or small." But if you promise in your ad to turn up on time, or they get a discount, they’ll realise you are NOT like other plumbers, and you’ll start getting calls.


AD TIPS - Common sense help to get your ads working

80% of people only read headlines!

The headline is the most important part of the ad! If it doesn’t appeal, the rest of your ad WON’T get read. The more headlines you run in your newspaper ad or brochure – and the more graphic information you include in your TV ads, the better!  Research shows 80% of people only read headlines! Because most people only read headlines, you should give them lots of different headlines to read. Writing advertising headlines that sell more product is actually very easy if you follow these simple tips:

  • Always include at least one benefit in your headline.
  • Never forget that people DO want to know about your product or service – you might be bored with it, but they aren’t!
  • Newspapers and magazine editors use long headlines because it’s the easiest way to make your headline interesting. Holloway’s headlines are always long – you should use long headlines too!
  • Talk about what interests the customer, not what interests you. E.g. If you sell furniture, you will be interested in the fact that no-one else carries your range.  But your customers want to know how comfortable it is, and how long it will last.
Cram your ad with information!
People who read a newspaper with your ad in it, are too busy to be stopped by white space, or ‘attractive’ colour in your ad. They read the paper because they want to catch up with what’s happening.  They want information. The only way to make them stop and READ your ad is to cram it full of information. I know that’s the opposite of what you’ve been told – sorry, I can’t do anything about that. But, I can tell you that your customer is more likely to read your ad if you fill it with information about what’s happening with your product and why they should buy it.
Put a ‘selling’ caption under, or beside, every photo!
Research shows that people ALWAYS look under or beside your photos for a caption that explains what the photo is about. Newspapers have taught us to do this and it is such a strong trend that even if the photo is of someone they know, they will STILL look to see what the caption says. The caption is one of the most important selling opportunities in your ad.

Fill your ad with things that already work for your sales people when they say them to one customer at a time.
Advertising is selling; the only difference is that you’re selling to thousands of people, instead of just one at a time. So before you write your ad – make a list of the things that work for your sales people. For instance, if you’re in the timber trade, you may find it’s easier for your sales people to sell decking timber if they offer the customer helpful hints on how to build their deck. Which means that in a decking timber ad, the best thing to do is start the ad with a long headline: "15 easy-to-follow steps to building your own deck in 3.5 days," and then in the balance of the ad, explain each of your 15 steps in detail.
It doesn’t matter much whether you’re good at English, or writing, provided you tell your customer what they want to know.
I managed a ridiculous 5%2 in School C English. I’m not proud of it, but it has shown me that even an English-dummy like me can write ads that interest people and get them buying. Provided you stick to what your customer wants to know and forget about what you want to talk about, then your ad is likely to work. For instance, the business that sells the re-pottable pot plants wants to talk about the amount of ‘stock they have’ and ‘that this product is exclusive to them’. But, this is way too boring for the customer! They are much more interested in the facts that affect them, such as whether you are supplying a selection of pots with the plant, if a particular type of pot needs to be used, or if there’s anything they need to know to make sure their new plant doesn’t die when they re-pot it.
Advertising is a long-term exercise if you want success - but don’t keep the same ad running for those six months!
Don’t expect to get the best results straight away. It can take six months or more before your ads are working anywhere near their potential. You should be refining, changing and re-testing your ads ALL THE TIME! 

How to test and change your ads until they work!

If you don't test and measure, your ads will never get you the enquiries that you need.
Most businesses and their advertising people make the mistake of thinking that they should be able to ‘do it once and do it right’ with their ads.  And yet, they are also the first to admit that their ads are NOT working as well as they’d like.  In advertising it takes time and effort to get it right.
  • If you want to test your ad, don’t get too precious with the first version, or spend too much money on it – you’ll need some money leftover to change and test your ad until it’s working perfectly. You need to stay relaxed about your first ad. Don’t spend all your money trying to get it ‘absolutely’ right, because you can’t possibly know what’s right until you’ve tested it!
  • Don’t settle for second best!  If you’re lucky enough to get results from your first ad, don’t make the mistake of leaving it just like that.  Until you’ve tested and refined and re-tested your ad, you will never know whether you could be getting twice the results by changing one or two simple things.
  • Keep changing the HEADLINE in your ads, until you know you’re getting the maximum possible results.  Don’t keep changing the design, just concentrate on trying out different messages. For instance, you might try running the same ad, but with a different headline, in two different papers and then measuring which headline works best.
  • Design the aesthetics of your ad only once and then concentrate on testing prices, offers and different ways to respond. There’s nothing wrong with good design in an ad, which is why Holloway’s employ qualified designers. But, beauty in your ad seldom effects sales enquiries. It’s the message, the offer, the ways you invite them to respond and so on.
  • Test different ways for your customer to respond to your offer, test where you’ve put the phone number. Test 0800 numbers against normal numbers.  And when you’ve done that, test asking them to phone you, against emailing a response to you. Keep thinking of all the things you can test.
  • Plan your budget AND your system so that changing your ad is easy AND affordable.  As we said earlier, don’t devote all your money to beautiful production of the first ads, stay relaxed because you’re going to have to change the ad to get the sales you want from it.
  • Organise with your design shop and the media (newspaper, TV, radio, or even your brochure printer) ways to keep it cheap to make basic changes.  For instance, get your design shop to design the ad in a way that you can easily change the headline, phone numbers and price and offers (one, or two at a time).  And get the newspaper to agree to let you send in new artwork very close to deadline, so that you can change your ad as soon as you need to.
Gareth Burgess
Why ads that look good, but have nothing to say don't work!
It doesn’t matter whether you run a giant corporation or a tiny business

If your ads aren’t getting read, you’re in grave danger! Your ads are supposed to COMMUNICATE with your market.  If your customers are looking at your ads, but not understanding them, then you’re wasting your money.

In fact, many of us have an ingrained distrust of beauty. If it’s a beautiful ad, then research shows that your customers think of it as "just an ad”, rather than a message for them. If your ad is too visually appealing, research shows that it will win awards and impress marketing people, but your customer will think of it as just an ad, rather than a message for them! The perfect ad attracts and holds your attention visually, then delivers a strong selling message. So many ads fail because they are created by artists who concentrate on beauty, but forget your selling message.  
Remember that there is a subtle difference between extreme beauty and something that is pleasing to look at. Ads are like that too. If the designers make your ad into a brilliant work of art, your customer will find it overpowering, their ‘advertising radar’ announces to them that this is ‘just an ad’ and they avoid it. Few businesses, no matter how large, can afford to waste money on brand advertising like that. Which is more the pity, because the vast majority of advertising is nice to look at, but has very little to say.

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