Do you make these mistakes in advertising your products?

Land Rover advert
Land Rover advert (Photo credit: Ben Terrett)

The petrol price has sky-rocketed to such stratospheric levels that companies have been forced to pull their sales people off the road.

Now more businesses are looking at selling through less direct sales methods such as print advertising, telesales and online sales messages.

The effective sales appeals that salespeople are able to make when selling face-to-face, reading customer clues on the spot, are much more difficult in shorter written messages.

All of which makes it important to know what to say that will persuade prospective customers to buy. Headlines and copy that sells has become even more important to online selling where prospects face an avalanche of competing offers.

Customers are more skeptical of sales copy that overstates benefits, that makes unbelievable promises and claims that are unsupported by facts and research.

I prepared some adverts the other day and came across some in newspapers that just didn’t seem to work. I’ll share some of them but please be warned: anything I say will not be as accurate as possessing actual sales results traced back directly to the adverts mentioned. Advertising that has a job to sell, rather than “institutional” or “brand” advertising, needs to be tested for performance.

How about this for starters:

“Save Money. Live Better”?

It’s from a retail discounter. A vague, unsubstantiated claim.

Then there was:

” USED? And the moon is made of cheese.”

This ad headline doesn’t say anything. What does it mean? How can an advertiser expect a prospect to believe that a used car is a new car. A 2009 car with 53,000 km is a used car in my books.

Check this for exaggeration:

“Run Your Own Company!”

Yet the ad only wants sales people and clearly states, “No investment other than your time”. Misleading advertising corrodes credibility.

If you consider the top four emotional states – self-preservation, romance, money and recognition – then this ad for a men’s health clinic sells its message in a straight forward way:

“Sex Problem. Low Libido. Weak Erections. Early Ejaculation.”

So does this selling message for a clinical trial:

“Tried everything for your gout? A clinical research opportunity for people with gout flares.”

Clever advertising may catch the reader’s attention but ads that just raise curiosity without appealing to self-interest simply fail.

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