How to Win Business and Influence People: Use Better Bait

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If your goal is to show a positive return on your invested marketing dollars, there are three key components of your marketing strategy that must work in harmony:  The math, or the media buy; the merchandising, or how you maximize transactions; and the messaging, or your creative.  

I believe the most important element is the messaging - what are you saying in your paid media to get a response from prospective customers? Anybody can buy media, it is the intelligent advertiser who takes the time to develop their unique selling point, which may influence the media they use. And with the growing number of advertising options, this is now more important than ever.  

Here is a very common scenario: you spend a lot of time and effort on where to invest your marketing budget, spend even more time negotiating rates, and now it's time to submit your ad.  Problem is - you're busy running the business - so you decide to repeat last year's ad.  

This is probably the most common mistake in all of advertising, a failure to take the time and effort to develop a unique selling point or actionable offer that will resonate with your target audience.  Once you have the foundation of a truly unique selling point, it can be used forever.  

If your ad wastes precious airtime or space on any of the following features, then you probably won’t get a measurable response to your ad: 

  • How long you’ve been in business 
  • Having a family-owned business 
  • Being locally owned and operated 

Notice that your national competitors can’t use any of these features in their advertising, and it doesn’t seem to hurt them one bit! 

Try spending one day paying attention to as much TV, radio and print advertising as you can stomach, and you’ll be stunned at how many businesses claim one or all three of these clichéd features. 

Bottom line: Spending money on ad space or air time and not utilizing it with some type of offer or unique selling point renders your investment unmeasurable.  

Your message should be 100 percent about getting a direct, immediate response from the small number of customers who are ready and able to buy at that moment.  And then, getting contact information from those who will buy – but aren’t ready yet.

Branding is for manufacturers with deep pockets like General Motors and their Chevrolet brand of cars and trucks. Response driven advertising is for the local Chevy dealer who sells the cars and trucks. 

For example, instead of just advertising a low monthly payment, Hare Chevrolet in Noblesville, IN features the “Sisters of Savings” who help you save money in their catchy radio commercials. 

Testimonials from customers describing how you helped solve their problem or impressed them with your service are among the most effective forms of messaging. 

Indianapolis hair restoration clinic, PAI Medical, developed an effective and unique campaign when they started recruiting popular local DJs to endorse their service and products.

They find DJs who have thinning hair, restore their hair, then feature the successful transformation through testimonials on radio, television, and billboards. It’s a potent combination, especially when you hear your friendly DJ describe on-air how it improved their life. 

Celebrated author and master direct-response marketer Dan S. Kennedy offers great advice in his book, The Ultimate Marketing Plan. He advises taking a stack of 3x5 index cards and writing down every fact, feature, benefit, promise, offer component, and idea on each card—until you have exhausted everything you know about your business and direct competitors. Then try to prioritize these items by what is going to be most compelling to your customers—and by what makes you stand out from your competition. 

This doesn’t mean you have to become an experimenter or innovator – instead, be an adapter – and implementer.  Pay attention to unique approaches that are working from entrepreneurs in your industry in other markets and make them your own. 

Shane Nichols is the author of the Intelligent Advertiser Blog.

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