Six Ways You Can Improve Your Ads Immediately

Robin Robins IT Marketing, MSP Marketing

The 4 Sins Of Direct Response Marketing That Will Seriously Suppress Your Success | Technology Marketing ToolkitIf you’re looking for more leads, appointments, and sales there are six ways that you can improve your ads immediately in ANY type of marketing.

And if you’re NOT doing these, I can guarantee potential leads are slipping through your fingers and into the hands of your competitors.

Let me explain…

Several years ago, when I was first becoming a serious student of direct response marketing, I subscribed to DM News, a publication DEDICATED to direct response marketing, thinking, “THIS will be an excellent source of good ads, copy, offers, and all things direct response.”

I was amazed at how BAD the ads were, with all being devoid of the pinnacle centerpiece of every good direct response campaign – the offer. In fact, I could not find ONE good lead generation direct response ad in the entire magazine.

The reality is, DESPITE the number of books, studies, articles, and RESEARCH available on GOOD marketing and advertising, there’s an amazing amount of really bad, wasteful garbage companies push out in an attempt to get more clients – even in places where the advertisers should KNOW better, like DM News! Isn’t that sad?

So, to fight the swath of ignorance and laziness in the marketing world, I thought I’d write up a quick refresher on direct response fundamentals so YOU don’t get confused by all the wasteful advertising you’re surrounded by.

1) Clarity Of The TARGET

Before you can even attempt to create and plan a good lead generation direct response marketing campaign, you need to know exactly who you want to attract. I like to use the analogy that if we were dropped off in the middle of a forest and forced to hunt our supper in a Survivor-type situation, given the opportunity to select one or two “weapons” from a handful of tools, traps, and bait from a pile, we’d have to first determine WHAT type of critter we felt like eating that night BEFORE we could intelligently decide what to grab.

Obviously, if we wanted fish, we wouldn’t select a slab of meat as bait over the worms.

And if we wanted deer, better to pick doe urine (yep, gross but true) to draw a big ol’ buck in over a block of cheese. The type of client you want will determine the MEDIA (direct mail, Facebook, radio ads, networking events, etc.) and the copy and offer.

Successful direct response campaigns make it very, very clear WHO the ad/message/campaign is for. If I read your campaign and cannot instantly determine WHO this product/service is specifically for, the ad (or e-mail, website, letter, etc.) is flawed.

There are two reasons why most marketing fails this test. The first is that the advertiser doesn’t know who they want; they lack clarity on who the MOST LIKELY BUYER IS. Second, it’s because they are foolishly trying to be all things to all people so they don’t “miss” any opportunity. In doing so, they put the proverbial doe urine on the cheese, thereby repelling both targets and attracting a possum.

2) The Headline And Strong Sales Copy

The headline has always been one of the most important elements of a lead generation campaign, and in the ADD microwave-attention-span world we live in today, it’s hypercritical because your recipient is going to skim the headline and make a determination if they should keep reading.

Second, the copy needs to be extremely effective at catching and KEEPING the reader’s attention long enough to get them to take action. Here are some headlines for ads in Forbes magazine that cost $70,000+ to run. Tell me if you think these are effective at stopping the reader in their tracks to pay attention.

I’m not sure who’s dumber here – the advertisers who paid an agency to come up with this, or the agency that actually thought this would work. See if you can guess who these companies are.

  1. This cloud opens doors of opportunity.
  2. I connect enterprises in the cloud. My communications and collaboration solution powers our innovation.
  3. Where work happens.
  4. What does it mean to be built for business?

RELATED: Click Here To Discover “How To Attract HOT Leads To Your MSP Using Personal Ads”

Geico Ad | The 4 Sins Of Direct Response Marketing That Will Seriously Suppress Your Success | Technology Marketing Toolkit

3) Be VERY careful not to be cute or obtuse

Writing effective copy to elicit a response is not easy, which is why you don’t see it very often. It requires you to be concise and crystal clear about why the reader should pay attention and respond.

The above headlines are so vague that I cannot tell what they do or who they do it for, much less what they can do for me. Further, the images and design don’t complete the story either.

For example, ad #1 is a two-page ad spread with one of the pages taken up by a picture of a Japanese woman opening an umbrella. Oh, you mean you “open opportunity” like an umbrella? Huh? Here’s a  full-page ad for GEICO. As you can see, the headline is under the image and reads, “The choice is yours, and it’s simple”, with the majority of the ad space given to a picture of…cheese. Yep, cheese. So…the choice is I want more cheese?

The ad even says, “Why settle for one type of cheese when there are a whole variety of flavors?”

Even an advertising novice would say this makes no sense; and I’ll remind you they are trying to get YOU, the business owner, to buy their services. In Forbes, YOU are the target and other executives.

I guarantee, if we pressed them for the specific return (ROI) of this ad, they couldn’t tell us. They tell us it’s not MEANT to drive sales, but rather to build “brand.” So what’s the point of building a brand if not to generate sales?


And by the way, being “difficult” to write is not an effective excuse; it’s a sign of pure laziness, PARTICULARLY for the above-mentioned companies that absolutely have the resources to hire quality copywriters who can do better than this.

And YOU can’t afford to be this careless with your advertising dollars. Maybe these companies can throw away millions on “branding” campaigns that don’t drive sales, but YOU can’t.

4) The OFFER

You cannot call an ad, campaign, or other marketing communication “direct response” and expect it to generate leads UNLESS it has an offer or CTA (call to action). Whatever you offer, it must be information that your specific target market would REALLY like to know, instantly wants, is intensely curious about, and feels they must have and/or would be scared NOT to have immediately.

Here’s a “spring cleaning” exercise: go through every prospect-facing piece of collateral and check to see if you have an offer, whether it’s for a free consultation, a piece of content (video, report, checklist, etc.), an eBook, a webinar invite, cost analysis and so on.

Where to check? Your business card, the “About Us” and home page of your website, trade-show collateral, your company vehicles, your LinkedIn profile, Google My Business page, Facebook page, etc.

5) URGENCY To Respond

Also, whenever possible (which is in almost every case), create an URGENCY to respond. Limit the number being given away, include a deadline when the offer will be withdrawn or taken down, or give some additional incentive for responding immediately (“First X will be given a free gift”).

6) Multiple Ways To Respond

Whenever you run an ad, be sure to include at least two – ideally three or four – ways the recipient can respond. Online to a website is good, but don’t ONLY offer that. Include a phone number, a fax-back form (yes, some industries still rely heavily on faxes), and a business reply card.

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