If advertising is not working, what are the key things to do?

First, get someone not associated with your company (but who is honest enough to give you his or her real opinion) to read your advertisement.

But (and this is vital) get them to do it now, and do it quickly, not at home “when I have time and can give it all my attention.” Because people don’t study adverts at home – they look at emails as they receive them.

Then, after at most 30 seconds, or sooner if the individual says, “right I have read it through,” ask the reader for a summary of two things:

  1. What you are selling?
  2. Why should the reader buy it?

And then, having received the response, ask yourself – is this the message I want to put across? Because if it is not exactly what you want potential customers to know about your product or service and your offer, then it is time to do a complete re-write.

One way to improve things at this point is to stop focusing on your product or service and think what it is like when you open up your emails in the morning and find hundreds of emails, most of which are irrelevant.

The issue is to make your email stand out from the rest while still putting across your message.

Remember how you feel when faced with lots of emails and how you probably sit there deleting as many as you can, while trying to pick up the odd one or two that are somehow relevant.

Now think of that decision-making process – that moment of thinking “I will read this.”  Something makes you decide to read, and that “something” is the most important thing in advertising. It is the “attention grabber” and without it everything else fails.

But unfortunately, “attention grabbers” are not the same as “important things.”  Your special offer may be what tilts the balance from not buying to buying, but it might not be what tilts the balance from not reading to reading.

Pre-Christmas Sale Now On!

might be the way you want to attract extra sales – but it is not a way to attract extra readers because if that is your headline, the readers won’t know anything much.  After all, everyone has a sale.  It happens all the time.

With emails you get two shots. One is in the subject line (for which you should use anything from three to six words) and the other is the headline (up to 15 words to appear in bold and larger type at the start of the email).

So, if I may offer a specific instruction here, avoid a subject line that has either been read a hundred times before or is a description of what is in the email.  Short and fractionally quirky works best in subject lines.

As for headlines, those that focus on benefits and/or are open questions work best.  Quirky also works brilliantly, but quirky pieces are harder to write.

If you would like to know more about how we write adverts and indeed about what we do, please do call 01604 880 927 and we can talk about your product or service and suggest ways of working on the advertising.  There is no charge for this, and no obligation.  We won’t hassle you with follow up phone calls.

And, of course, no horseman will call.

Tony Attwood

P.S. If you prefer please send Stephen@schools.co.uk a copy of your sales email, and he’ll pass it on to me and I’ll send you a (very polite) commentary on it including my thoughts of how it might be changed to get a higher response rate. You don’t have to take any notice of anything I say, but you never know.  There might be a little idea lurking therein…

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