Making your Ad Campaign a Hit

Is one of the goals of your advertising plan to generate sales leads for your salespeople, representatives, distributors or resellers? If so, consider these proven lead-generating techniques gleaned from working with more than 170 companies and some of the best marketers in the business.


Don’t Use Image Ads

Have you seen the ads showing butterflies and oil wells coexisting, illustrating the oil company’s concern for the environment? This kind of advertising may do a lot to improve the company’s image, but it is not designed to generate sales leads. If leads are what you want, focus your advertising message on the benefits and applications of your products or services. Then, let the layout and design of your ads enhance your company’s image.


Put Benefits in the Headline

If you put a benefit in the headline, you will have a better chance of catching the reader’s attention and generating a request for more information. If after reading the headline a reader can ask, “So what?” you probably described a feature instead of a benefit. The answer to “So what?” is the benefit.

Everyone seems pressed for time these days, including the readers of the trade publications where you may advertise. With this in mind, make it easy for readers to skim your ads and still get the message. Use bulleted copy, subheads and illustrations or photos to quickly communicate key points.


Testimonial Ads are King

Testimonial ads have boosted the number of sales leads my clients’ ads generate by up to 700%. Your prospects expect you to be biased; however, they trust their peers to tell it like it is. Use this to your advantage by including quotes from happy customers in your advertising. Keep in mind that to be believable you have to be specific.

Give the full name, title and company affiliation of the person being quoted. Third-party statistics such as “chosen by nine out of 10 design engineers” also can be effective in boosting an ad’s pull. If you use statistics, be sure to back them up by referencing the source of the data.


Fractional Ads can be Cost-Efficient

If you want more leads, your advertising needs to be present when your prospects are looking for solutions to their problems. If your budget is limited, consider running fractional ads in every issue, rather than placing only a few full-page ads a year. Having ads in every issue makes your company look bigger and more successful.

Use words in your copy such as “you” and “your” to focus on the readers’ needs rather than boasting about how good “we” and “our” products or services are. For example, the statement “You will get the work done 25% quicker” is stronger than “Our product is 25% faster than the competition.”


Ask for the Order

Any experienced salesperson can tell you that you will not get the order unless you ask for it. Create benefit-oriented offers such as “call, write, fax, e-mail or visit our website today to request your free Component Selection Guide, designed to help you quickly determine which products best meet your bar coding needs.” Notice the term “Selection Guide,” was chosen, as opposed to “brochure” or “catalog,” to offer the reader a benefit.

You will get more inquiries if you design your offer to reward those who inquire right away. For example, try something such as, “The first 500 readers to inquire will receive a free booklet entitled 15 Ways to Cut your Inventory Costs.”


Match your Offers to the Buying Cycle

When prospects are just starting to gather information, they may need literature but often are not yet ready for a sales call. When it is almost time to buy, prospects usually are anxious to speak with your salespeople, reps, resellers or distributors, see a demonstration or discuss pricing.

You can significantly increase the number of inquiries you generate by making offers that appeal to prospects in all phases of the sales cycle. For example, consider offering selection guides, application notes, newsletters, demonstrations, tests or analysis, samples, sales calls or any combination thereof.


Make it Easy to Respond

Offer multiple response devices so your prospects can choose the method they prefer. Mention all the ways they can inquire, such as: “Circle the number below, call, fax, contact us by e-mail or visit our website for your free information kit.”

Some people need your information right away, so they prefer to call or go right to your website. Some like the 24-hour convenience of faxing or e-mailing their requests. Others find it easier or more comfortable to use the magazine-provided reader service card, coupons or bound-in reply cards. If you publish phone numbers in your ads, be prepared to answer the phone during coast-to-coast business hours.

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About the author

M.H. “Mac” McIntosh is president of Mac McIntosh, Inc. He can be reached at 800.944.5553, or by e-mail at [email protected].