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Four Performance Factors that determine the success or failure of visual ads

Advertising Basics: Test your know-how

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Here’s a simple quiz that will show you whether or not you know some of the fundamentals of effective advertising. Remember… you either know the answers or you don’t. 

There are four performance factors that determine the success or failure of a visual ad (and most on-line advertising is basically visual)…

  • Your Offer
  • Your Copy (the words you use)
  • Your Target Audience
  • Your Layout (how the ad looks)

Each provides a different degree of leverage.

By getting them right, you could gain improvements in results of up to 50%, 250%, 2,000% and 2,500% from your visual ads. (Percentages have been rounded off.)

The question is: can you list them in order of importance?

Which offers the lowest leverage? Which offers the highest?

The answers

In order of importance, the four performance factors are:

  1. Audience: up to 2,500% higher results when you get it right.
  2. Offer: up to 2,000% higher results when you get it right.
  3. Copy: up to 250% higher results when you get it right.
  4. Layout: up to 50% higher results when you get it right.

Did you know the right answer? If you didn’t, you’ve probably been doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons and wondering why your ads don’t work! 

The real questions, though, are these,

  1. Which two factors offer the lowest leverage?
    (Answer: layout and copy.)
  2. Which two offer the highest leverage?
    (Answer: offer and audience.)
  3. Which two are you least competent to handle successfully? (Unless you’re a pro.)
    (Answer: layout and copy.)
  4. Which two are you the only person competent to handle? (After all, it’s your business, no-one else’s.)
    (Answer: offer and audience.)
  5. For which two can you get low-cost or even free professional help from the media you advertise with?
    (Answer: layout and copy.)
  6. On which two, then, should you focus in your advertising?
    (Answer: offer and audience.)
  7. On which two do most people focus almost all their attention on?
    (Answer: LAYOUT and COPY!)

That’s right… more than 90% of small business advertisers focus on the lowest two when their focus should be on the highest two.

That’s just one aspect of advertising success. There are dozens more. And most people probably know as little about them as they know about this one.

WHY most ads can’t succeed

In any properly-managed small business advertising campaign there are ten (10) essential, synergistic, integrated components. If any of those components is missing, results plummet dramatically. It’s the difference between adding or multiplying.

Leverage: add v multiply

The result in this example is 250% higher when you multiply, because the process is synergistic. It has real leverage.

In almost ALL small business advertising, a staggering NINE out of the ten essential components are missing!  You can’t even gain the limited benefits of just adding them.

9 missing components

Is it any wonder that results are so miserable from most small business ads — except by sheer dumb luck? (Which can’t be duplicated!)

Now for the good news!

Take another look at those Four Performance Factors.

Look at the similarities and then look at the differences.

Layout and copy are creative aspects of advertising.

Offer and audience targeting are strategic aspects.

This sums up the problem with most small business advertising: it has little or no strategy driving and directing it.

Advertising is a combination of science and art — often with a dash of voodoo.

Strategy and creativity

Creativity can make the crucial difference, but only if all other things are equal. 

They rarely are. So here’s the truth about advertising success

Advertising is 10% creativity and 90% strategy.

In other words, it’s 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration!

So advertising is a 90% controllable process that YOU can learn to control.

Success lies in the details, in advertising as much as in anything else in life. Invest your time and effort in getting the strategy right first, then use the abundant help available to get the creative aspects working for you.

Now… will that insight alone change the way you look at advertising in future?

Advertising’s a lot like fishing

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You can spend all your time and effort choosing your line and lure, only to find that…

  • the fish you’re after aren’t biting 
  • you’re fishing in the wrong place
  • you’ve got the wrong lure, line or bait for the kind of fish you’re after.
Or you can be like so many advertisers who simply walk up to the water’s edge, toss in all of their bait, then wonder why the fish aren’t leaping out of the water and landing at their feet!

Spend the time and effort to identify your true audience/market, then formulate irresistible offers that will appeal to the existing emotional responses of that audience.

Don’t take everything you read or hear about ‘Killer’ copy and and ‘Dynamite’ layouts, as gospel — especially that these are the #1 skills you MUST learn when it comes to transforming your advertising.

That’s usually clear evidence that some wannabe “guru” has a product, service or course that they want to sell you. They’re either lying to you, or they’re clueless. (Neither is a particularly exciting credential in terms of their expertise.)

What makes the differences that the genuine experts talk about in these areas is the fact that the changes they made to copy or layout came AFTER they got the strategy (the targeting and offers) right.

What IS creativity in advertising? And why is it so often a distraction from the primary purpose of making sales?

Creativity is simply problem-solving. The confusion lies in the nature of the problem to be solved. 

For a painter (fine art) or illustrator — or even a photographer — the problem may be composition, contrast, colour palette, texture, embellishment, etc. All valid aspects of visual art that can influence viewer responses. 

For more commercial applications, like advertising, the problems are typically broader, including pulling consumers toward our offers in the most positive, persuasive ways. 

Great art directors achieve a powerful balance between visual form and selling function that enhances both

Great copywriters — often aspiring or actual novelists, essayists, playwrights, etc — perform a similar role in their mastery of both language and selling. 

The problems arise when practitioners lose the critical balance that achieves such powerful synergy between art and selling. Often it’s loss of accurate perspective that leads to this imbalance that so easily leads us into the snare of self-indulgence

Advertising clients may want the highest possible expressions of the visual and written arts… but few, in my experience, have the intention that their advertising budgets should be spent on patronage of individual artists/writers.

What they really want is the best sales bang for their advertising buck.

Why 90% of all Small Business Ads FAILDownload this FREE Insight Report for another three revealing tests of your basic advertising know-how

Test your know-how in three more fundamental aspects of advertising, especially for small business.

The answers are all included. 

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