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Why Your Ads Aren't Working

By: Claire Cunningham

Claire Cunningham, president of Clairvoyant Communications, Inc., has 20+ years' experience developing and implementing successful business-to-business marketing and communications programs. Sign up for Claire's monthly newsletter, Communique, at www.clairvoyantcommunications.com Claire can be reached at 763-479-3499 or e-mail to claire@claircomm.com.

The president of a manufacturing company recently asked me, “Why isn’t my advertising working?” Have you ever been asked this question? Have you ever asked it yourself?

Like most marketing communications questions there are no simple answers. After all, communication is a high level activity. There are lots of variables involved.

If your ad results are disappointing, here are the key things to look at:
  1. Message -- Is what your ad promises compelling? Is it meaningful to your audience? If you’re not offering something prospective customers want, they won’t respond. If you’re not sure what prospects want, ask!!

  2. Audience -- Are you reaching the people who make the buying decision for your product or service? Many big ticket sales involve buying teams or multiple layers within an organization. Are you reaching everyone you need to?

  3. Vehicles -- Are you in the best publications (or radio time slots, TV programs, whatever)to reach your audience with your message? Look at quantitative and qualitative data to get a true evaluation of media and vehicles.

  4. Frequency/repetition -- There are two cardinal rules of human communication: a) People will notice your ad only when they’re interested, and b) People retain about 10% of the messages they’re exposed to each day. So for a communication program to succeed, it must repeat, repeat, repeat. (Current estimates are that it can take 7-9 repetitions of a message for it to sink in.)

  5. Attention -- Does your ad have stopping power? Will the intended audience take the time to look? This usually requires the synergy of an arresting visual and a powerful headline.

  6. Objectives -- Are you asking advertising to do what it’s good at? Generating inquiries and creating awareness are reasonable ad objectives. But don’t expect advertising to sell a product. Good ads set up opportunities to sell. Your sales channel will need to close the deal.

  7. Measuring results -- Do you really know what your advertising is achieving? Are you collecting and reviewing results that relate to your objectives? For instance, if you expect your advertising program to generate inquiries, measurement that looks at inquiry quantity and quality should be built into your program.
Sound intimidating? Communication is important to any business but it’s complicated. Fortunately there are experienced consultants and agencies who can help you.

© Copyright 2005 Clairvoyant Communications, Inc.

Other Articles by Claire Cunningham

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