One thought. One Ad.

One thought. One Ad.

If you’re creating an ad, a landing page, an email blast, or whatever - keep it simple, keep it short, and keep it focused.

Clients want to stretch the dollar, but instead they shred it.

A long ago client was hell bent on maximizing the number of products we squeezed into their monthly catalog mailers. Every page had to have at least six products or more. One of the first things they would do when they reviewed our layouts was to count the products per page. They didn’t gauge the effectiveness of the layout, proof read, or even step back and see if they liked the design. They simply counted. If we had used five products on a page….they’d insist we add another…no matter how much it crapped up the page.

They weren’t concerned with how things looked, they were focused only on purchases per page. Yes, they actually tracked that as a statistic when catalog orders came in. And we’d be lectured that pages didn’t perform well and be told it was because there wasn’t enough items on the page. And we’d argue back that to add more items would have required handing out free magnifying glasses so people could read the small type. And that the problem was the opposite - there was too much stuff on the page. Needless to say, we were frustrated, and they weren’t a client for long.

My crowded room philosophy

What that experience helped me conceive is my crowded room speech. Now when clients want to force too much stuff into an ad, catalog page, landing page, email, or whatever, I calmly raise concern and explain why it’s bad to overwhelm customers. It’s a busy world and if customers have to work too hard to figure something out…they won’t. And if persuasion fails…I jump right into my speech.

I explain, imagine you’re in a crowded room and everyone is talking to you at once. Chances are you won’t hear any of them. Or you’ll hear one and miss the others - so everyone else in the room was wasting their time (and money) trying to talk to you. Then I ask them to consider talking one on one with someone. Their attention is focused and the message will be heard. And I ask, which is the more likely scenario that a sale will be made? And if they meet individually with all the folks from the crowded room individually and talk one on one - they’ll be able to make an informed decision and choose the best option. Most of the time, I can convince them.

One thought. One Ad.

If you’re creating an ad you should concentrate on communicating one thing. People are busy and bombarded with advertising messages - and we’re very adept at ignoring them. So if you try to inundate them with too many choices or too many offers they’ll simply ignore you. It’s why you have to think long and hard about what you’re offering and why it’ll help the customer. What problem does your product or service solve? How does it improve their life?

Don’t sell, solve.

If you provide a solution to their problem, they’ll order from you. So your one thought in your ad…your pitch…your offer….should convey the benefit to the customer. Don’t sell features. Don’t sell price. Offer to help your customer and if they think it will help them. They’ll buy.

Sure, there are exceptions to this scenario. But they’re special cases, and they’re generally related to selling commodity type products. Coupon mailers, catalogs, etc. But even in these scenarios, less is more.

For example, with the nightmare catalog client I mentioned at the start, on one of our final projects with them, we redesigned their “big” main catalog. We fought tooth and nail and created a beautiful piece that violated everything they believed in. It had very few items per page. It had lead-in pages to sections. It featured items on pages using big, big photos. And we offset it all simply by adding more pages. It was a grueling, battle filled experience. And when it was done we parted ways. Funny thing, a few weeks later they called praising us and wanted to rehire us because their sales were through the roof.  They had sold more, faster then ever before. And while we were tempted, we still opted not to work together again…life is too short. Years later when I heard they went out of business, I picked up their last catalog…there was a minimum of eight items per page…and I laughed.

Apr 16, 2012

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