Imaging Isnt Everything

Many home improvement contractors attempt to use advertising to expand their client base and increase profits. Whether it be yellow pages, mailers, ads, or valpak; for many it's a total waste of time and money. Why do so many contractors achieve less than desired results from their advertising dollars? The answer: They're doing it the wrong way!

There are two types of advertising. One is a complete waste of money. The other is highly effective, yet very few people know about it.

Brand Marketing, or "image advertising" is a total waste of money. It's easy to recognize. This is the sort of "getting your name out there" advertising we all see everyday. It is the type of advertising that only works for companies that have millions of dollars in their budget.

The advertiser tries to relay an image about how great the company is. They use large (expensive) ads with fancy logos, graphics, and colors to try to convince the prospect that the company is more professional, stronger, more trustworthy and competent than its competitors. It tries to make people feel that this is a company they should trust to do business with.

The problem is, the focus of this advertising is all me, me, me. The advertiser is suggesting you buy from him without actually telling the prospect what's in it for them. The essence of the sales message is "buy from me because I'm telling you I'm a great company." Specific, compelling reasons for a person to pick up the phone and call the advertiser are never given.

Fortunately for you, most of your competition doesn't know this, so it continues to produce this drivel.

Let your competition waste its money on "image advertising," and instead spend yours on advertising that creates calls from people who are ready, willing, and able to hire you to remodel their homes or offices. This type of advertising is called direct response.

Direct Response Advertising

Any advertising, in any media, can be direct response. The difference between direct response and brand marketing is that direct response is designed to produce an emotional response in the customer. It directs people to take action - an immediate response. This action could be a visit, call, purchasing decision, whatever.

In contrast, institutional advertising produces an emotional appeal to the ego of the person writing the ad. It's all me, me, me. At best, institutional advertising produces results sometime in the future (which may not arrive in time to benefit you, given today's hyper-competitive market).

Direct response doesn't waste time or space making empty boasts about the company. It concentrates on results now. It does this by telling a complete sales story. It is precise and compelling, focusing on your customer, not you. Furthermore, because it always makes a specific offer, its results are easily measurable and countable.

A good direct response ad contains all of the following:

1. A big, bold, powerful headline that attracts readership of the ad.

2. Interesting copy that tells the reader right up front, "what's in it for me."

3. Benefits that are expressed clear, evocative, and specific terms, not vague generalities. Avoid unproven claims of "the best" or "number one."

4. A specific offer.

5. A response device to respond to the offer. The prospect must be told exactly how to respond to the offer. It could be a phone call, mailing in a coupon, etc.

6. A deadline or cut-off date stated so that the prospect knows when to respond by.

If you incorporate these direct response elements into your advertising, you'll be light years ahead of your competition. They'll still be scratching their head, trying to figure out what you are doing while you're fielding more leads and your profits soar.

Knowing the difference between brand marketing and direct response advertising is a key weapon in today's ultra-competitive market. You need to make the decision: are you going to feed your ego or feed your wallet? Though it may make you feel good about your company, fancy logos, catchy slogans and "name recognition" advertising is wasteful and unprofitable. Maximize the effectiveness of your advertising dollars by creating ads that provide specific clear benefits to the customer.

Tyrell MacGregor is Managing Director of FootBridge Media, a Referral Marketing Company that specializes in client newsletter templates and website marketing solutions for home improvement contractors. Visit them at http://www.footbridgemedia.com

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