You'll find display adverts in most
publications. They vary in size from small boxes up to complete
pages. They can include photos, drawings and logos which make
them extremely effective.
The great advantages of display
adverts are: (1) they can be made to stand out so they're very good
for attracting the reader's attention, (2) they put across your sales
message very powerfully, and (3) with the bigger adverts you can
include a cut-out form for enquiries or "off-the-page"
The main disadvantages are: (1) they
have to look good so you may have to pay someone to design them and
produce the "camera-ready copy", (2) the process takes a bit
longer so you have to plan ahead, and (3) they cost more.
There are some basic rules for
designing display adverts - but there is also great scope for artistic
inspiration. Like most things, the more you do the better you
get. Start by being clear what your advert is intended to
Many display adverts are part of a
two-step campaign - where the object is to persuade the reader to
phone, write, fax or email for more information. If you want
them to write, and you can afford the space, include an information
request form for the reader to fill in and post to you. This
makes life easier for them. And you can make sure they
fill in all information you need. You can also put a code on the
form so you know which advert and publication produced the response.
One-step campaigns - where the object
of the advert is to persuade the reader to buy your product
immediately - are less common. You'll need to describe the
product, persuade readers to buy, and tell them where to send their
order and payment - which takes space and increases the cost. If
you can afford the space, include an order form for the reader to fill
in and post to you. This makes life easier for them. And
you can make sure they fill in all information you need. You can
also put a code on the form so you know which advert and publication
produced the response.
Some publications give you a degree
of choice about where your advert will appear. Even if they
don't offer this publicly it is worth making your preferences known to
their ad sales people. If you're talking about a series
of adverts they'll probably try harder to meet your requirements.
Front and back pages are seen by the
most readers. The inside front and back pages are almost as
good. However, publishers know this and usually charge more for
these prime spots. For some deep psychological reason many
readers pay more attention to adverts placed on the top right hand
corner of a page. Some publishers may be willing to give you
this position if you ask them.
If your chosen publication is divided
into sections then your advert ought to appear in the most relevant
section. For example, an advert about garden sheds wants to go
in the Gardening section.
If possible, try to get your display
advert placed amongst, opposite or underneath the publication's news
or feature articles. People spend time reading these so there is
more chance they'll notice your advert. Plus it implies that the
editor approves of your product (even though he/she may not intend
A display advert in the midst of lots
of lineage adverts stands out clearly - and will be the first thing
scanned on that page. The worst position is a small display
advert in the midst of lots of other display adverts. You'll
have to use your artistic ingenuity to make your advert stand out from
All display adverts should follow the
tried and tested AIDA
the reader's Attention
the reader in the product
excite the reader's Desire
ask for Action
from the reader
The big advantage of display adverts
is that you can use photographs, drawings and logos to attract the
readers attention to them.
If you can't afford the artwork, or you're limited
for space, maybe you can use lines, boxes, large
print or special
typefaces to achieve the same
effect. Some publications offer colours,
but these usually cost more.
Photographs or drawings of people
help catch the attention. Obviously they need to be happy
people. If your customers are mostly men then a picture of a
woman will be most effective - and vice versa. (Reverse that if
your target market is gay people).
Pictures of the product don't just
catch the attention. They also help to arouse the reader's
interest and desire. They're especially important if you're
trying to sell "off-the-page". If you're selling a
service then consider a picture of something related to it. For
example, a car for motor insurance, or someone on the phone for cheap
Logos also work well, especially if
the brand name is well known.
Short phrases enclosed in simple
graphics (banners, stars, speech balloons, etc) can be used to attract
the attention and put across key points. For example,
"Sale!", "Special Offer!", "New!",
Use all these special effects
sparingly. A few of them will create a strong visual impression.
Too many looks fussy - or even a mess! Leave some "white
space" around the content as that helps to draw the reader's
The headline - the first phrase or
sentence - is critical. It should be written in large bold type,
possibly capital letters, and separated from the rest of the text.
Use the headline to attract the reader's attention - and make your
advert stand out from the rest. Take some time thinking of
alternative headlines and picking out the best. You want people
to stop and read your advert - not other things around it.
If your chosen publication has a
broad readership, eg. the local paper, then your headline should
probably specify your product, eg. Rare Books!. This will
only attract the attention of people who are genuinely interested in
rare books. And you won't risk getting lots of responses from
people who don't go on to buy.
If your chosen publication has a
specialist readership, eg. Bikers News, or you've placed it in a
special section, eg. Gardening, then your headline can focus on what
makes your product different from the rest. For example, More
Studs Than Any Other Jacket, or The Cheapest Sheds In Town.
Another powerful approach, especially
suitable for advertising business opportunities, is to forget the
product and lead with the benefit to the customer. Examples
include: Be your own boss! Earn in your spare time!
Improve your sex life! Or you can use blatant attention grabbers
like: Free! Brand New! Only £2! Two for the
price of one!
The middle wording needs to interest
the reader and build up their desire. Where possible, emphasise
the benefits for them. Give enough information about the product
so they understand what you're offering. But, if you're
two-stepping, don't attempt to do the job of your brochure or your
telephone sales pitch.
Make good use of "power
words" - words that make the reader sit up and take notice.
These include: avoid, bargain, bonus, discover, earn, easy, enjoy,
exciting, exclusive, extra, fast, fortune, free, how to, learn, money,
more, mystery, new, now, profit, save, special, win. Don't force
these words into your advert - but use them rather than weaker
The tail end of the advert must
tell the reader what to do next. For example: Phone 01234
567890 for details. Send 4 x 26p stamps to Fred at ...
Visit our website at www.downline.co.uk.
Proof read this bit especially carefully. It would be a crying
shame to excite your customers' desire and not be able to receive
If you're selling
"off-the-page" (one-stepping), include an order form for the
reader to cut out, fill in and post to you. This makes life
easier for them. And prompts them to fill in all information you
need. Put a code on the form so you know which advert and
publication produced the response. Make sure it tells them who
to make out their cheque to, and clearly shows your postal address.
Check with your company. They
may already have some effective display adverts you can use or modify.
They can probably supply you with "camera ready copy" -
which will save a lot of effort. Also they may have restrictions
about where or how you advertise. They may insist on approving
your advert before it's published. You'll definitely need
permission to use their trade names, photos and logos.
Make sure you proof read what you
send for publication. Spelling errors and nonsense wording make
you look an idiot. Incorrect contact details will lose you
business and annoy your customers.
For most publications there is no
flexibility about their advertising deadlines. If you want your
advert to go into a particular issue, get it to the publisher in good
time for the deadline. Make sure you tell them (preferably in
writing) which issue you want it to go in. If you don't tell
them it'll be your own fault if it goes wrong. And you won't be
able to claim a refund.
You'll need to send them "camera
ready copy" - a good quality original of your display advert.
It must be clear and sharp enough for them to photograph or scan into
their publishing / printing system.
For all but the glossiest magazines,
you can produce acceptable camera ready copy using your PC with a good
laser or inkjet printer. If you don't have the expertise or the
facilities you may have to pay someone else to do this. Some
publishers will produce the artwork for you - for a fee!
For very small adverts check whether
the publisher can photo-reduce a larger original. This may well
give a sharper image than you can achieve directly from your PC's
When you post your camera ready copy
to the publisher - don't fold it! It won't photograph cleanly
with a fold line down the middle. And put a stiffener or some
padding in the envelope so your precious advert doesn't get mangled by
Finally, do check that your advert
appears when and where you intended. Demand a re-run and a
refund if they don't get it right.
Good telephone manner is vitally
important. Speak clearly and at a comfortable speed - not too
fast - not too slow. Try to sound keen and interested in what
the customer is saying. But be yourself. If you try to put
on airs it will sound false.
Work out a standard greeting and use
it whenever you answer an incoming call. This should include
your trading name - so the caller knows they've got through to the
right number - and your name - so they know who they're dealing with.
For example: "Fred's Sheds - Harry speaking".
You should also get an answering
machine to field your calls when you're out, or otherwise unavailable.
Murphy's Law says that the phone only rings when you're in the toilet.
Work out a standard message along the
lines of: "Thank you for calling Fred's Sheds. I'm sorry we
can't take your call right now. If you'd like to leave your name
and number after the tone, we'll get back to you". Note
this doesn't say you're out (which might give a hint to burglars) and
it doesn't say when you'll call back (which might raise false hopes).
Your friends and family may think
you're a bit odd - but the only alternative is a separate phone
number. Answering with "Ullo?" will make your
customers wonder just what kind of business they are dealing with.
You'll also have to train the family
to answer the phone properly too. Stroppy teenagers often baulk
at this - it doesn't help their street cred. Explaining that new
clothes or computer games depend on business success may tip the
Modern telephones are very good at
picking up background noises - even with your hand over the
mouthpiece. For some reason the television, the kids
fighting, and the toilet flushing - all sound much louder over the
phone than they do in the room. So try to find somewhere quiet
for your business calls. Never, ever, make remarks about the
caller! Assume they can hear everything.
If you just want to capture the
callers details and send them an information pack then keep the call
short and business-like. Capture the bare minimum of
information: name, address, postcode, phone number, what product
they're interested in, and where they saw the advert. Write it
all down - there and then. Keep a notepad and pen by the phone.
Human memory is notoriously unreliable - so don't rely on it!
If you want to clinch the sale over
the phone then make sure you're well prepared. Work out the key
points of your sales pitch and rehearse how you're going to say them.
Emphasis and intonation can be quite important here. Prepare
counters for objections they might raise. For example: "It
costs more than brand X", "Yes, but you use less each time
so it lasts longer".
Try to establish a personal
relationship with the caller. Make sure you get their name early
on and use it occasionally. If they mention their family, or
their job, or where they live - show an interest, or tell them
something similar about yourself. But don't overdo this or
you'll spend all the time gossiping rather than selling. Make a
note of key points. They'll come in handy the next time you talk
Listen carefully to what the caller
is saying. Ask them open questions (ones that can't be answered
yes or no) so you're clear what they're looking / hoping for.
This should be a conversation - with them speaking as much as you.
Don't let it degenerate into a monologue. Try to tune your
comments to fit in with their train of thought. Find ways to
agree with them. Simply dropping in the occasional
"Yes" helps build a rapport. Even if you have to
disagree with them try to say "Yes, but ...".
When you've told them about the
product and its benefits, and they seem to be interested, you come to
the crunch point - asking them to buy. Sales people call this
"closing the sale". Don't approach this head on.
"Do you want to buy one?" comes across as aggressive - and
allows them to answer "No".
Much better to ask them a question
that implies they have decided to buy. Like "How many would
you like", "Which colour would you like?", "How
would you like this delivering?", or "How would you like to
pay?". Usually they'll just answer the question and you can
move swiftly on to capturing their order details.
Even if they baulk at this question
all is not lost. They'll probably say "I don't know"
or "I haven't decided". You just switch back into your
sales pitch and try to close the sale when they've had a bit more
If you don't have the enough time to
make the sales pitch - eg. you have to get the kids out of school -
explain the problem, take the caller's name and phone number, and sort
out a mutually convenient time to call them back. You should
call them (and pay the call charges) because you're the one causing
the problem. Whatever you promise to do - do it! This is
essential to build up their trust.
At the end, thank them for their call
- and say goodbye. Then wait for a second so they can hang up
first (otherwise they may think you're glad to be rid of them).
You'd be surprised how many people forget these simple courtesies.
If you've promised to send the caller
an information pack then get it on its way today! Follow the
guidance below about replying to letters, faxes and emails.
If you've taken an order from the
caller then move it on to payment collection and delivery promptly.
If possible despatch the order today. Fast delivery is always
very impressive and makes them well-disposed towards further
Letters, Faxes and Emails
First rule - strike while the iron is
hot! Your customer has seen your advert and taken the time to
ask for more information about your product. It's vitally
important to reply quickly while they're still keen. Aim to
post, fax or email your reply the same day. If illness or
absence delays your response then apologise!
Keep an accurate record of who has
responded and what you have sent to them - with dates. Store
their personal details securely - and don't give this information away
to anyone else.
What are you going to put in the
reply? Make sure it includes everything the customer needs to
make their purchase decision and return their order.
Where possible, use the standard
leaflets, brochures, price lists and order forms produced by the
company who supplies your products. They're usually well printed
on glossy paper with nice pictures. And the wording has usually
been carefully crafted to present the product in a good light, explain
the offer accurately, and comply with the law. Substitute your
own material at your peril.
Make sure your name and contact
details appear on the material you send out - even if you have to add
a sticky label to each item. Adding a short personalised letter
or note is a nice touch that can endear you to the customer. But
write it neatly (or type it) on quality paper - or you can undo all
that goodwill at a stroke. The same goes for the envelope.
Appearances really matter a lot.
If you're replying by fax or email
then take your time to get the wording right. Also lay out the
text so it's easy to read and the page looks visually attractive.
You'll only get this one chance to make your pitch so prepare it with
the same care as you lavished on the original advert.
You can use graphics on faxes to
improve their appearance but check what they look like after faxing.
Shades of grey get changed to black or white which can have some
If you have a PC with a modem, try
sending your faxes direct from the PC. The appearance at the
receiving end is often much better than if you send from a low-cost
If you're replying by letter, make
sure you put enough stamps on it. Having the postman knock on
their door to demand excess postage will put a customer right off you.
Check the weight of the sealed envelope on your kitchen scales if
you're in any doubt.
If you can afford it, use first class
postage for replies. Second class may be cheaper but it allows
the customer 24 hours longer to cool off and gives the impression
you're less serious about wanting their business.
With some schemes, the
customer sends their payment to the company and orders are delivered
direct to the customer. This is the quickest, cheapest, and
least error-prone approach.
With other schemes the
network marketer has to collect payment from the customer and then pay
the company. The company delivers the order to the networker who
forwards it to the customer. If your scheme involves you in
payments and deliveries then here are a few points to remember.
When you receive a
cheque, make sure it's completed correctly. The right date.
The right payee (the company or you depending on the scheme).
The right amount (in words and in figures). Signed (with the
right name). Make sure the customer has put their cheque
guarantee card number on the back of the cheque.
If you receive a payment
by credit card or debit card (and your company accepts them) make sure
you have all the necessary details. Cardholder name? Card
number? Expiry date? Issue number (Switch cards only)?
Amount to be charged to the account? Cardholder's address (as
recorded by the card company)? Delivery address (if different)?
Cardholder signature (not possible for telephone orders)?
Don't delay! Send
cheques and card payments to the company (or your bank) as soon as
possible. Send the order paperwork to the company at the same
time together with any payment due.
As soon as you receive
the goods, check the contents against the customer's order.
Chase the company immediately if there is anything wrong or missing.
Despatch the goods to the customer or call them to arrange a
convenient time for personal delivery. Your customers will be
more inclined to buy again if you get the goods to them promptly.
Finally, remember to put
a new order form in with the delivery so it's easy for your customer
to order again.
Your campaign will have
given you the names and contact details of paying customers (even if
you didn't recover your costs). Record these people in your
customer list and guard it jealously.
Once you've captured a
customer, follow up every few weeks/months. Send them the latest
brochure when it's updated. Or phone them for a brief chat (but
back off if they don't seem keen to be called). Your aim is to
encourage them to buy again. Remember, it's much easier to get
further orders than to find new customers.
OK. You've now
worked out what adverts to place where, and what to do with the
responses. However, it's possible to design an advertising
campaign that successfully sells products to customers - but ends up
costing you money! So, before you leap into action, take a short
breather and conduct a Sanity
Check on your plans.
At the end of your
campaign you should review how well it worked so you can learn how to
do better in future. Count up how many responses your advert
produced (and, if you're two stepping, how many orders). Work
out the value of the orders taken and your commission / profit.
Then take away your costs. Did you recover your costs?
Earn a bit of extra cash?
Were the response rate,
order rate and average order value what you predicted before you
started? If they were higher - well done, your campaign design
worked better than expected. Remember that publication and the
key elements of your advert. They're probably worth using again.
If your campaign didn't
do as well as you hoped, have you any clues as to why it went wrong?
Should you use that publication again? Was there something wrong
with the advert? Keep a note of what happened, and bear this
hard-won learning in mind for future campaigns.