The Only Bad Advertising Is No Advertising - Or Is It?

Depending on whom you ask, you will get told many "truths" about advertising. The question I have for you today is this ? "Is the only bad advertising, no advertising?"

Before we begin, it might help us to agree on what advertising is, so here's one definition:

"Advertising is the non-personal communication of an individual's paid persuasive information regarding products, and or services via various media."

In other words, someone is trying to "sell" us on something ? be it a product, or a service, or just picking up the phone. Advertising is all about getting people to do something ? well, for the majority of us, it should be.

So, if advertising is about selling stuff, then perhaps we can answer our question now: "Is the only bad advertising, no advertising?" Of course not! You could create a really bad advert that did a terrible job of selling? and that would easily be a bad advert.

"Repetition, repetition, repetition!"

Is the battle cry of the ardent advertiser. "You must have repetition to have an impact." Do you believe this? A healthy dose of scepticism is always handy at a time like this. But before you start patting yourself on the back thinking that you're right I think you might want to hear this.

Repeating an advert works. Studies have shown conclusively that a 'sale' regularly occurs between the fifth and eighth exposure to a sales message (sure it can happen sooner, the point is that one-hit-wonders are rare). So repeating an advert works ? BUT? and this is quite an important "but"? the advert must be having an effect (or working) for the repetition to be meaningful.

Flogging a Dead Horse

Permit me to explain. If your advert tanked on the first run you may have a bad advert on your hands. You will need to think carefully about what you do next. Experience tells us that this might be a fluke or a freak of circumstances so it warrants at least another run ? may be two.

However, if the advert is not performing at all well after a couple of exposures to your market place, exposing that advert continuously will NOT (I repeat NOT) improve it. In this instance, repetition is quite simply a waste of time and money.

However, if your advert worked well then keep running the advert. For how long you might ask? The answer to that is actually very easy. Keep running performing adverts until the numbers tell you to stop. That's right, let the sales numbers tell you when that advert needs a rest.

Great Adverts Need A Vacation Too

Adverts are like people, they get tired and need a break. Just because an advert eventually loses some steam doesn't mean that after a suitable 'rest' it cannot go right back to work ? performing flawlessly. So how do the numbers tell you when to pull the advert or give it a rest? When all the costs of running the advert outweigh the sales the advert is bringing in. Remember to take a more pragmatic view and consider the long term sales value of a new client. In a previous article I explained that a client you acquire has a 'lifetime value' not just a 'now-time value'. Include the future sales this client will bring you when deciding if the advert is no longer effective.

Size Does Matter!

So how big should your advert be? That's easy, it should be 'dominant'. After all, your advert is trying to do its first job ? CATCH ATTENTION! This is easier to achieve with a larger advert. All things being equal on the page, the bigger ads get more 'eye time' than the smaller adverts. As with all things though, there are exceptions to the rules and a small advert developed properly will outperform a big advert that is poorly designed.

There are other advertising 'secrets' we copywriters have learned that help us gain the edge when writing adverts. For instance we know whether colour makes a difference and when to use it, we know which single colour out performs all other colours and why, and we know which fonts (yes fonts) make a difference to an advert? but sadly I'm out of space again so we'll have to save those tidbits for another time.

JAMES C. BURCHILL is a 20-year veteran entrepreneur and information technology executive who now provides strategic marketing consulting services to a select group of clients. He is a published author, a passionate advocate of technology and the Internet, as well as an avid study of classical advertising and marketing strategies (which he uses during 'Internet alchemy' experiments.) James is an expert in information and data management, Internet marketing and online networking. A self confessed 'information and technology enthusiast', James brings a wide range of valuable skills to any venture. Of singular note is James' ability to assimilate complex subject matter and produce clean clear 'easy-to-understand' messages. James has been interviewed many times and caused quite the media buzz when a client 'double-dog-dared' him to prove you can get front page coverage for $0. The details and that 'dumb stunt' are now part of EBay legend. Currently James lives in Ontario, Canada with his wife and family, their Siamese cat and one very nervous fish. Visit http://www.JamesBurchill.com for details.

In The News:

Vacation rental advertising ordinance adopted  The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper
Familiar Brands, Focused On Radio Advertising  Radio & Television Business Report
Honest Ads Act Is False Advertising  The Wall Street Journal
What's going wrong at Publicis Groupe?  More About Advertising | Insights into Advertising

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