How to Make Sure Your Ads Work - the Secret that Sells


I was looking to recruit someone last year and the recruiter suggested an ad.  This ad was like 95% of recruiting ads - 25% of the space was taken up by the recruiter's brand and logo, lots of white space, beautiful colors and fonts, lots of great things about my company and the role.  I rejected it!  Here's why...

Open up most glossy magazines or the local paper or the Yellow Pages.  Big company logos. Lots of color and white space.  But, do they work?  Do they actually increase your sales?

There is only one way to tell if an ad increases sales - you must measure and monitor its impact.  Ads do many things like raising awareness, winning awards, improving brand recognition but only a small percentage really drive sales.  You must judge an ad on whether it increases sales and at what cost.

I'll let you into a little SECRET as to how you can increase the effectiveness of your ads many times over.  People only buy for two reasons - because something makes them feel better or because it solves a problem.  People also buy more easily from other people - we are creatures of habit and we have all been brought up to trust the personal touch and human contact.   Successful sales people are successful because they give their customers lots of good reasons to buy their product - they earn their customers' trust.

Do you think a catchy tune on the radio or a beautiful picture in a newspaper ad will earn your customer's trust?  The SECRET to making ads that sell is to replicate what a successful face-to-face salesperson would do.  In newspaper advertising use ads that have an editorial form - lots of copy, less white-space.  Why? Because you need to give your prospects lots of reasons to trust you and buy.  In radio advertising forget the award winning songs and catchy tunes and try to replicate a talk-back interview.  On the web, use the letter form rather than lots of pictures; use talking heads in video like the nightly news rather than lots of powerpoint slides.  Even with emails, use a letter style with lots of reasons people should act now and buy from you - earn their trust with testimonials, benefits, guarantees, try-before-you-buy offers, personalise the email with your contact details.

Here are 5 reasons why most "call-to-action" ads don't follow this methodology and I believe don't work:

  • the people designing your ads may be "building your image" or "raising awareness" or "positioning your brand" - but isn't a sale the ultimate test of your customer's trust in you?
  • ads that work take more time because they have more content, not less - ads that look good win awards, but ads that give lots of reasons to buy develop trust and make you money
  • the people who developed your ads may never have sold anything and may not understand the sales process - they use the wrong words; less is beautiful, but it also can be wasteful
  • your friends or colleagues may tell you the ads are too "busy" or long and don't work - then test it out, do a trial of a few and see which ones work better
  • you are promoting your company in your ads rather than highlighting all the great benefits of using your product or service - ask yourself the "so what" question. What problem are you solving?

Don't believe me?… then try it.  Here are some examples which work:

Targeting photographers...

Here is some advice from a top ad designer on newspaper advertising.

And, an example of a website in the form of a letter whose primary purpose is to sell, sell, sell!


Here is Brett McFall talking about the importance of having a personality on your website... how to talk to your customers:


Chris Pattas

Chris Pattas lives in beautiful Melbourne, Australia. He is happily married with two children. Chris is a successful business leader who enjoys helping organisations reach their full potential. Whether it is driving greater profit or sales, growing market share in competitive industries, inspiring executives to achieve great things, negotiating compelling business deals or working as a board member implementing exciting change programs, he knows how to get the most out of any organisation. Chris has worked in various product and service industries including: advertising, software, IT&T, travel & tourism, utilities and telecommunications. His interests and expertise include: leadership & strategy, sales & marketing, online & social media, science & technology, travel & tourism, photography and music.