The Essence of Effective Advertising
Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper (I love vintage American idioms) I possessed the desire to be involved in fabrication. As a kid, I spent most of my free time cutting metal with hand tools manufactured before World War II. I continue to find use around the homestead for tools that turned hex nuts and hand fitted metal parts over a century ago. You might say, I’ve been a picker long before it’s recognition by the History Channel. So what the heck does this have to do with copywriting or for that matter, effective advertising?
Aside from dreaming about writing ad copy for my imaginary CNC machine shop, as a veteran entrepreneur, I know from personal experience, the better portion of a small business operator’s day is devoted to delivering goods and services to the existing customer base. By contrast, there is plenty of time to seek out customers when one is in the process of starting a brand new business. When the mill, printing press, or whatever machinery your business operates is silent, your priority becomes developing advertising campaigns, effective or otherwise, and attending business oriented networking mixers, even if that is not your forte. Unfortunately, networking mixer participants are usually sellers rather than buyers and it may require considerable time and effort to favorably insert oneself in an already crowded niche.
Congratulations are in order for those small business owners who make it to the point of no longer burning through operating capital like a California brush fire consuming everything in its path to the ocean. Just another day in paradise. Inevitably though, once you as a small business operator are joyfully paying your bills and making your customers happy, unforeseen events toss the proverbial monkey wrench into the machinery. Unpredictable events range from your best customer relocating out of state to one of your best employees giving birth to twins. Perhaps a competitor just secured an unbelievable equipment lease or a phenomenal bargain on a building one city block from the main highway. Bad stuff happens to good business owners and now you find yourself working harder than ever for less money; and, you may now be pushing 40 or even 50 years of age. This is about the time your spouse tells you, I should have married a civil servant!
So what do you do? Find ways to down-size? Unfortunately that happens far too frequently and usually ends in disaster, especially during a nationwide economic correction. What should have been occurring in the implementation of your business plan up to this point and indefinitely into the future is the allocation of a percentage of your gross income to advertising. Obviously, if you have professional advertising talent on-staff, you are no longer a small business and may not need help, assuming your advertising department is adding to your profit margin. However, most service oriented small businesses struggle with advertising. There is a lot of planning and expertise that goes into effective advertising and it can become very time consuming. Understanding how to produce your product or service efficiently and deliver the best possible quality to your customer base is merely a single term in the free enterprise equation. In order to balance the equation, you need more weight on your side of the equal sign.
So what is the key to effective advertising? Most marketers will have many suggestions that extend themselves far beyond their field of expertise without being able to explain how they plan to increase your bottom line. They say, you gotta stand out from the crowd, put eye candy on your website, advertise more frequently than the other guy, put videos on YouTube, ad nauseum. On the NoSpin Web we believe this philosophy often manifests itself as waves of digital garbage coming to rest comfortably in spam folders until trash day. There is a reason TV remote control devices incorporate the mute button as standard equipment.
Where your advertising is viewed and the companion accoutraments are far less important than the message conveyed by its written word. The Internet has provided virtually every business with an advertising platform. Gone are the days when only big companies could afford a 60 second advertising slot on prime time television. For advertising to be effective today, it should assume specialized forms depending on the target audience. The one consistent principle of effective advertising is carefully crafted copywriting, encouraging two-way conversation, shall keep your customer base engaged. After all, would you rather retain your good customers forever, or offer sporadic outrageous deals you cannot actually afford to myriad prospects? Granted advertising “eye candy” plays the role of immediate attention grabber. We love creating and utilizing graphics to invoke the imagination; however, unless you are speeding past a billboard at 75 MPH, you as a consumer crave more than eye candy.