General Business

Advertising: It Ain’t What it Used to Be – Or Is It?

Using advertising for effective results.

When the classic captains of the advertising industry reigned, they recognized that their job was to sell their client’s product. So, what’s changed?

Today, when you turn on the television, you see a commercial and then ask yourself, “What was I supposed to do? And what were they selling?” Today’s ads often lack a clear call to action and rely too much on special effects.

Advertising is first a science and second an art. Examine both the content of the message and the delivery style. Would it appeal to your customer base?

Everything in advertising is actually formulaic. Here is a simple, time tested formula that works for any business-to-consumer product or service:


If you control all of these factors, you will have a winner. If any of them are weak or missing, you risk compromising your results.

Let’s examine a formula for direct-to-consumer sales (not through retail outlets):

  • Strong consumer benefit
  • Sense of urgency
  • Convenient way to order
  • Convenient way to pay
  • Promise of quick delivery
  • Don’t bury the benefits

Above all, before you develop any messaging or select any media, do your market research. Don’t assume anything. Find out as much as you can about your customers:

  • Their age and gender
  • Their income level
  • Their occupation
  • Whether they shop in brick and mortar vs. online
  • What brands they buy now
  • What they like or dislike about your competitors
  • What it would take to make them switch to you
  • What it would take to keep them as customers
  • What they read, watch, listen to

Conduct a survey, hold a contest and gather this information. Your research will tell you where to place your advertising and how to shape your messaging.

Take Domino’s Pizza. They asked consumers what they liked and disliked about the pizza buying experience. Then they turned people’s objections inside out by offering them exactly what they want. You can do the same. Here is the formula:

  • Find the need
  • Satisfy the need
  • Deliver the promise
  • Get the word out

As small business owners, you can’t advertise everywhere, all the time. If you can’t afford to advertise all the time, don’t advertise when business is at its slowest. Instead, spend your advertising dollars when your customers are most inclined to buy. Fish when the fish are biting. Make your peaks higher and you will get through your valleys.

About the Author

Barry Cohen is the managing member of AdLab Media Communications, LLC in Fairfield, and the author of the book 10 Ways to Screw Up an Ad Campaign, and co-author of Startup Smarts.

To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.

Related Articles: