How to Switch Your Advertising From Garbage to Gold

Adverts generally fit into one of these categories:

• Institutional or Image advertisements (I call this garbage)
• Direct-response advertisements (I call this gold, if used correctly it’s worth more than gold.)

What Are Institutional Advertisements?

Institutional or image advertisements make up 90% of most publications. These adverts generally emphasise the business name in big letters across the top. They provide a list of the products and services that they sell. Occasionally they’ll provide prices on a product and often they will have an image or a photo. The address and phone number are usually at the bottom.

This is just a generalized version, there are many different layouts. Basically this form of ad is passive and does not persuade the reader to buy. In essence it just says “this is me, this is what I do and this is how to contact me”.

Most small businesses use this format because they don’t know any different. They have been led to believe that this is the ‘right’ way to advertise. This form of advertising focuses on the business, not the customer, selling is only a by-product.

Graphic designers and advertising sales representatives love these ads. They are fast and easy to create and their performance can’t be measured.

Although I call these types of ads garbage, they do have their place in the advertising world. Institutional ads are fine for the big corporations with their multi-million dollar advertising budgets.

Institutional advertising is very good at ‘image’ creation. The problem with these advertisements is although they can be good at ‘selling’ a corporate image – they aren’t good at selling products and services.

What Are Direct Response Advertisements?

Direct response advertising originated through mail-order companies. Mail-order companies basically can only survive if their ads generate orders – they have to get it right or lose money. Because of all the measuring and testing carried out by these companies over the last century, the results generated have proved without doubt what works in direct response advertising.

In relation to institutionalized ads, readers respond to direct-response ads in significantly greater numbers. Institutionalized ads require the prospect to be actively looking for your product in order to generate an inquiry, whereas direct response advertising makes them act regardless if they are actively looking for the product or not.

One of the things that make direct response advertising so effective is that each component of the ad is tested. This allows things to be changed and altered to see the best response; nothing is included unless it proves to increase responses.

Direct response advertising has proven itself to be an effective method throughout businesses in all countries. The fundamentals of direct response are adaptable to any type of business in any type of media. Even though I primarily focus on print marketing, these concepts can be carried over to the web, television or radio too.

If it’s not already obvious, here’s the difference.

Institutionalized Vs Direct Response

It’s not rocket science to work out which of these ads are going to pull more sales, but most people are oblivious to the fact that they even use institutionalized ads. They don’t know that there’s an alternative.

With institutional ads, you just say who you are, what you do and how to get in touch. There is nothing special or unique about your ad. If you’re lucky the reader sees your ad, but they see it as a just another business advertisement. They are just like every other institutionalized ad – which essentially only says “This is my business, this is what I sell and this is how to get in contact with me”

With direct-response ads, you are actually advertising a specific offer, with a straight forward, compelling and detailed message that answers the reader’s favorite question “what’s in it for me?” A direct response advert not only attracts the reader to the offer, it actually motivates the reader to order now or to fill in the coupon or give you a call. This is what is often referred to as a “call to action”. You actually ask your prospect what to do.

Direct Response Breakdown

An effective direct response ad can be broken down into two main parts:

• The Offer
• The Composition

In order for an ad to succeed, it must be solid in both these areas.

If you have an amazing offer and a weak composition – very few people will notice, let alone read your ad and learn about the great offer. Alternatively, an ad that is composed according to the successful principles of direct response marketing, but only has an average offer will get read, but the readers won’t have sufficient reason to respond because of your weak offer.

You need to have an advertisement with a good offer. It needs to have value to the reader. As long as the ad is composed using the following components, you will see amazing response rates.
There is a step by step sequence that has been proven to work time and time again for the past 100 years:

• You make a specific promise and/or offer
• You present your features and benefits
• You prove that you can deliver using social proof
• You remove risk using a guarantee
• You appeal to their emotions
• And you ask for an action.

That is essentially all there is to it. These response-generating, money-making strategies have proved themselves to be more efficient than any other method of advertising. When you apply these strategies to your ads, you will notice a dramatic increase in responses.

The beauty is that you do not have to spend a cent more on advertising. All you’ll do it use your current budget and change your current institutionalized ads into direct response ads. You’ll see an amazing change in the effectiveness of your advertising.