“Much of the messy advertising you see on television today is the product of committees. Committees can criticize advertisements, but they should never be allowed to create them.”
Have you ever tried to explain to your CEO or Board of Directors why an advertisement was worth investing in? If so, you’ll know that it’s difficult because more often than not it is a subjective assessment. You think the ad is great, but your CEO or a Board member raises an esoteric concern and the execution is unilaterally scrapped as a consequence; thus making the time and money you spent creating it a complete waste.
So how do you avoid this disaster scenario and get agreement to move forward with the advertisement you are recommending? The key is to understand what makes an advertisement effective, and then to present the merits of the advertisement you are recommending in a logical manner by explaining how it meets each of the criteria.
This post provides a checklist of criteria that collectively make a good advertisement. If you present the merits of your recommended advertisement using this checklist, more often than not you can successfully get Management approval to move forward.
- A Compelling Benefit Headline. Too often, advertisements are feature focused. The headline explains WHAT is being offered, but not WHY it is important to have. Take the case of an advertisement for the Reese Technology Center in Texas, the headline read “We offer a unique setting for office, labs, warehouse, light manufacturing, and airfield development”. The headline explains WHAT is available, but provides no compelling reason WHY the reader should visit the website address featured in the ad. As a consequence, the probability of the ad actually generating a lead is very low. The Reese Technology Center is actually a decommissioned Air Force base near Lubbock in west Texas. It has an impressive infrastructure (including a military grade fiber optic network) built by the Air Force that is now available to the public sector. And, it has established a public/private research collaboration available for companies that choose to site their operation on the Center property to join. The headline should communicate at least one of the benefits offered from electing to locate on a decommissioned Air Force base.
- A Dominant Visual Element That Compliments The Headline. The visual should help communicate the main point of your headline. The classic, and highly boring, visual that is often used is an aerial shot of the site. While it is certainly relevant, a picture of the site does not help the reader envision their need being met. Your visual should help convince the reader the promised benefit can be realized at your location. Think of it as the headline tells and the visual shows. That is why testimonials work so well. The visual is typically a CEO who is realizing the benefit along with a reinforcing quotation. A good example to look at is Dublin, Ohio’s ad that focuses on the benefit of DubLink (their high speed internet network) and visually reinforces it with a picture of Dublin Methodist Hospital that relies on the network to deliver their telemedicine program. The picture is supported with a short story about the hospital.
- Reinforcing Copy. The purpose of advertising copy is to give the reader confidence that the benefit you are promising can actually be achieved. The more interesting the copy, the greater likelihood that the reader will want to learn more about your location. Think in terms of telling a story, even if it is only one line.
- A Call To Action That Actually Generates Leads. This is not the typical web address or telephone number (although both are important to share). Your call to action should offer the reader something of value so they are encouraged to take the next step in your selling process. In today’s digital world, giving away pertinent information is always a good choice. The information can range from data to help with the site selection evaluation to case studies that provide an opportunity for the reader to get to know your location better. You can even get clever and co-promote with your travel & tourism department to offer something free that encourages the reader to look more closely at your community. I believe, whatever you offer, you should include a requirement to register to receive it and you must measure the conversion rate to determine if you are being effective. This is an element in an advertisement that is perfect for A/B testing to help you decide which calls to action work best.
- Your Branding Elements. Be sure your ad includes your logo and tagline (if you have one) as well as your primary contact information. Consistency in using your brand colors, logo and tagline help build familiarity with and trust in your community. You should be sure to have brand style guidelines to help ensure you stay on track. Over time it helps you differentiate your community versus others. Never miss an opportunity to brand your advertising.
When you are presenting your recommended advertisement execution, be sure to walk through the checklist and help Management understand how each box is checked. This will help build confidence your advertisement has a chance of being successful. In addition to the above, describe how the advertising concept might be pooled out into push email, collateral or your website. You don’t have to have finished execution, but rough sketched ideas make helpful illustrations. Ask your Agency to do this for you as part of their base deliverable. They should want to do this because it presents a potential incremental business opportunity.