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General Advertising

General AdvertisingTo understand advertising strategy we have studied some of the leaders in the industry from the era before the Internet became a major media.  The idea is that while we have new tools and techniques, we should avoid making the same mistakes already made for other media, and to understand the similarities with the Internet media to adapt those techniques that seemed to be well received already.  We naturally apply these concepts in our work in a consulting capacity, but you can recognize many of the same techniques from their application in more traditional media.

The most important aspect of advertising is to understand WHAT you want to sell so that it becomes possible to strategize how you are going to sell it.  Advertising execs call that “positioning the product” so that you give it the attention that it deserves.  It does not have to be the most expensive product, or the most exotic, it may be a loss-leader to generate traffic to your website.  You can see that in a “Free TV” if only you buy a new sleep set, for example.  Makes you wonder if they cannot say anything exciting that would make people want to go out and buy a new bed and mattress...

Good advertising copy integrates the text with the visual message, but is a commonly overlooked aspect of most web sites and a great many marketing materials. People still read for information: if what you have to say doesn't communicate properly, you create confusion in the prospect's mind.  Most websites are aimed at advertising: even “vanity websites” are aimed at self-promotion of one kind or another.  The key is to find what the unique features and benefits are for the prospective reader, and how what you are offering makes sense to the prospect.  We can help you put those features into words that evoke a response and that compel readers to take action.

Getting the Message Across

Go big, go bold, go beautiful: you need to wake up the prospect so that they can see the product you try to advertise.  There is no merit in being subtle – nothing like 3 seconds of attention grabbing – only then do you get 30 seconds for the rest of the message.  It is no surprise beautiful bodies are used to sell products simply because that triggers the reaction to look for more.  Mind you, it has to be subtle and tasteful: two reasons that it usually takes a little longer to script the really effective advertising copy.

Nothing sells like quality: you have to convince prospects that what you have to sell, or what you stand for, is nothing but the best.  How do prospects believe that if you don’t?  Your website has to look attractive and must be easy to navigate: it must be informative and full of useful items that the prospect can take away and think about.  That places the information in their memory and makes them come back for more until someday it turns into a sale.  The advantage of a quality website is that it continues to sell, unlike a flyer or newsprint advertisement, or even TV advertising that interrupts a football game.  People don’t have to drop what they are doing to pay attention – they can come back at a time when it is more convenient to see what you have to offer.

Advertising is like seduction: that must be warm, friendly, and reassuring – you don’t charm someone by being blunt.  You need to cultivate a desire, so that you can deliver the goods – and by that we mean the products for which the advertisement is designed (sometimes that is overlooked in the effort to be original).  You need to innovate rather than follow: it is seldom effective to come across as a copycat even if innovation is risky.  Some advertising can easily cross the line and become a turnoff, which defeats the use of advertising.  If you cannot awaken the desire to buy then you have achieved nothing.

Product Classification Objectives

Some products can be classified in different categories.  Dove can be a skin care product or a really effective soap.  Canada Dry can be a soft drink or a mixer.  How you present the product can make it a staple or a specialty item.  Typically what you use the website for is to feature the item as part of a much larger focus of satisfying customer needs for which the item is a means to an end.  The customer likes a party: the party features all kinds of drinks that require a mixer called Canada Dry.  By associating Canada Dry with a real desire we can expect that when customers see Canada Dry in the store they will be reminded of a party, and therefore be more inclined to make a purchase.

What are you telling the prospective customer that establishes expectations of a future benefit to be enjoyed?  The best advertising avoids claims that can be refuted, but what about putting a prospect in a happy place?  Canada Dry as thirst quenching sounds like a reasonable benefit that is hard to refute unless the prospect is already drowning.  That it might put a parched desert traveler in sugar shock can be ignored when an appropriate backdrop with beach volleyball acts as a distraction.  The more intrinsic that benefit is, fewer distractions are required, and the easier it is to associate a product with promised benefits.  So why go through the effort of making a promise?  Without a promise that catches a prospect’s attention the advertising message is wasted effort.  It is better to use some metaphoric promise that people see as amusing than no promise at all.

A website is tied to brand image that should be at the core of every advertisement, the reason we think a logo is so important.  A 3-year old cannot read, but can recognize the logo that reminds them of a benefit.  Most advertising on the Internet is ad-hoc wasted effort: you need something eye-popping: good times are ahead.  To be effective, there will be other “good times ahead” advertisements that all reinforce that Canada Dry has to be the product of choice.

Keeping it Simple

Do not complicate your life with an over-the-top website – each element must have a role to play in your marketing strategy.  In this website we highlight what we can to for your website goals and objectives by keeping it simple and by providing information of value to you.  We don’t use the latest Flash technology: we prefer quick responses and snappy navigation so that you get the information you are looking for.  Success can only be measured in terms of how well the site contributes to your bottom-line sales, or if it increases your name recognition, or some other tangible objective.   Understand what demographic your website is targeting, and don’t challenge that comfort zone if there is a genuine intent to improve doing business with that demographic.  We feel that there is a lot of merit in building smaller, simpler websites, but a large number of them.

Contrary to popular belief people read more complete information that is useful, but it works only if the opening paragraph draws them into the belief the effort is valuable to continue. The more you tell, the more you sell, assuming you prequalify with a headline and a strong opening paragraph.  And it is also try that a picture is worth 1000 words: the visual information sells even more.  Photographs almost always outsell drawings as they are more believable “evidence” of the product.  Adding captions to photographs is another strong reinforcement if crafted as a miniature advertisement with brand name and carrying a promise.

Websites naturally carry an editorial layout that has been proven successful in general advertising and marketing.  Conventional advertising is choppy and disconnected while on a web page we have the real-estate to consider layout and presentation as well as a complete story to be told.  You can take the time to craft the right wording and maintain the web page for as long as it remains relevant.

Discovery Channel

Most people have become conditioned to advertising and learned to ignore it, which is a challenge for most media.  Website advertising is generally non-intrusive and it can be easier to provide leads to your website where people can “discover” facts than to drown prospects with “facts” in other media.  Understand that a website is passive: at best it will be found by someone searching for information that is found on your site. 

To get results, you need to use fanfare to bring attention to your website.  You can create headlines in twitter, so long as you link those precious 140 character tweets to your website for information.  With references you can tell a story that could never be told in successive tweets, and even better, the story will have staying power: it could be the object of a tweet campaign.  You can include links in any kind if correspondence, newspaper advertisements, whatever it takes to pass word that your website has something unique to offer.  The attention getter can be super simple so long as it is backed by relevant information that gets you respect.

Your website (like ours) can be about real problem solving, information that makes the customer to return to the site to be reminded of what your product can do for them.  It is important to be truthful, and you don’t want to treat your prospect like a moron, but even a PhD can forget the simplest pieces of advice like how to change the filter bag in your SuperDuper vacuum-cleaner (that can make a difference at the right moment).  It is easy to add visual information to a website that makes it easier to follow instructions than a words torrent of details: honestly, you can easily say too much.  Factual content tends to be more effective than emotional content, but emotional focus can draw your prospect to visit the website in the first place.

Social Media – LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a membership based site with more than 161 million subscribers: the membership grows by approximately two new members every second. About half of the members are in the United States.  One purpose of the site is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people with whom they have some level of relationship, called Connections.  Users can invite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection.  However, if the invitee selects "I don't know" or "Spam", this counts against the inviter. If the inviter gets too many of such responses, the account may be restricted or closed.  This list of connections can then be used in a number of ways to communicate rather directly but there is a catch:  members can object to your use of the built-in LinkedIn mailing list.

LinkedIn is focused on business connections, and it offers many opportunities to create advertising that does not limit membership connections to access information, which is used (for example) to post job opportunities on the site.

Social media – Facebook

Facebook is a membership based site with more than ___ million subscribers: the focus of this site is to maintain friends and exchange information (or call it gossip).  A problem with Facebook has been stalking – people often put too much information on-line that is too freely available.  Because of its popularity you pretty well have to connect with your consumers base on Facebook and follow the lead of many large companies that have an extension of their website into Facebook.

The focus of Facebook is a little more difficult to describe because it literally tries to be a medium for everyone.  You can supplement your website with a Facebook presence that carries many of the same (soon to be familiar) design elements as your website to allow an almost seamless integration to guide Facebook users to visit your website.

Social Media – Twitter

Twitter is a membership based site with more than 100 million subscribers: the basic premise is that members can elect to follow others, and to be followed by others, which allows them to send Tweets to each other and/or all followers.  Tweets are short, 140 character messages that have a short shelf-live, but that can be re-tweeted (forwarded) by a follower to their follower: in a short time you can have a deep penetration that can be very effective to send out special offers (this is how teen parties get flooded with all kinds of uninvited guests), and to bring traffic to your website.  It will take some effort to get your initial followers established, so start early.

Twitter is focused on celebrities (the whole follower concept) and wanting to know the opinion of celebrities that have to establish careful Tweet campaigns to keep followers in the know about the celebrities’ opinions on whatever topic makes the news or gossip columns.  It can be a powerful tool to establish your business as a household name if you are careful about how you design and execute Tweet campaigns for that purpose.

Tweeting Headlines

Tweets make great headlines that can draw an audience to your factual website: you may want to consider that in your overall marketing campaign.  Most people scan the headlines even if they ignore the rest of the message.  You don’t sell in the headlines, it is the copy that sells, it is the headlines that make people read the copy.


The fact is that with tightening the mortgage eligibility rules there is no doubt that the demand for resale homes will go down, but try to get that message across without some effective headline.  Imagine a clever realtor spinning a campaign to get new listings by using this theme, and by tweeting that headline, and how easily this could go viral, yet it is based completely on honest to goodness truth.  Instead of a potential risk we could be tweeting a potential benefit, or we could tie the advertisement in with current news of interest to the target demographic.

You can even rehash old products by using fresh headlines – one of the benefits of your website is that it remains there 24/7 and you can generate headlines whenever there is an appropriate opportunity to do so.  You can also use references, such as on Linked-in answers to questions where you supplement a short answer (headline) with references to details (your website).  When people get this kind of link they almost always visit the site and, if they find what they are looking for, since they are in the market and easier to convert to customers. Make sure you don’t make your tweets too cryptic, longer texts get more attention, so long as you can still insert the link.


This is one way to direct traffic to your website, to have your E-mail address featured as a link, like frits@pm4hire.com à as a direct link to www.pm4hire.com that people can visit.  Each time you use your E-mail account should be an opportunity for contact with what you have to offer, so make sure that the landing page (reached by this link) draws customers to the website so that they can navigate to whatever they are interested in.

People often think that E-mail is a casual medium – nothing could be farther from the truth.  Make sure that your communication is stellar.  Compose your letter or response in a word processor for presentation and spell check before you copy the contents into the body of the mail message.  You can also pre-define messages that you can use as a boilerplate text component in whatever message you compose.

Each contact is a prospecting opportunity regardless of the nature of the dialog that the E-mail is a part of – and that includes marketing letters.  To increase the odds that your message is opened it has to be short and to the point.  People don’t like to click through to sites they don’t know, so make sure that you completely identify yourself in the mail signature so that people trust the click-through.

Never flame when people express less than desirable opinions of what you do – they are entitled to free speech no matter how misguided they may be in your opinion.  Keep all off-the-cuff content short and to the point: if possible, make references to specific site content where you have published the information that contains the responses that you have formalized as in a press release or other standard information that you want to use consistently in responses: you have the time to compose those in advance, use them.