What do effective ads do?

Is it a simple question? What do effective ads do? Whether it is a simple question or not, in my experience, few seem to know the answer.

What is the typical response to the question “what do effective ads do?” by the average businessperson? The most common answer appears to be………SELL! Put it this way, either in direct response to the question, people will say that the job of ads is to sell, or if you are running their ads, they may complain that the ads are not working as they are either not selling anything, or not selling enough.

No matter how you get the feedback, the majority appear to consider that the job of ads is to sell! For those of you that fall into that category, I am about to burst your bubble, because that is NOT the job of ads!

In order for an ad to sell, it would need to take payment. An ad may make someone feel like they want to buy something, but until you make the actual purchase, nothing has been sold. It is not the final step in the process so there remains the possibility that a sale will not occur! Last time I checked; ads don’t take payments. Websites take payments. Humans take payments, but ads don’t!

If the job of ads is not to take payments, then what is their role and what constitutes an effective ad? The job of an ad is to ………… evoke an action! The ad should get you to do something. The three main actions are either to: a) get you to call them b) get you to visit their store c) or go to their website. If upon seeing your ad people take one of those three actions, then the ad has done its job.

If upon seeing your ad a person calls you, then it is the responsibility of the person that takes the call to either make the sale (if they do phone sales) or convince the person to visit the store or buy online. If upon seeing the ad, the person visits the store, then it is the job of the salesperson to make the sale. If the person instead visits your website, then it is the job of the website to either make the sale if it has a merchant facility or persuade the visitor to call or visit the store to make the purchase.

If you are undertaking digital advertising and your reports show a good amount of clicks on your ads, but you don’t feel that you are getting any or sufficient sales from it, then in most cases the problem is not with the ads. The problem is either with the website, the person who answers the calls or the salespeople. The ads would only be the problem if the ads were not being shown under the correct search phrases or the ads did not align correctly with what was being sold.

It remains important to always consider your potential customers journey, when trying to ascertain where you are falling down in the sale process. To understand your customer’s journey, you first need to understand what your typical customer looks like. Upon understanding your potential customer, you can start to anticipate their behaviour.

If you offer an emergency plumbing business, upon seeing your ad do you think people will visit your website, visit your premises or click on the click to call on your ad? It makes sense that most will call you directly as it’s an emergency! A few may visit your website and little if any will visit your premises. What does this mean? If you are advertising emergency plumbing, then you should expect most enquiry from ads to come via phone calls.

What about builders specialising in new homes or renovations, what should you expect? To build a new home or renovate is an expensive and timely process. People are likely to be quite particular, so are unlikely to rush into a decision. What does this mean? They are likely to spend a lot of time on your website checking out your past work, your testimonials and so on to determine whether you are worth speaking to, before going further. If your website doesn’t impress, you are not likely to hear from them. Even if it does impress, they are likely to check out a number of websites over a period of time before making any calls. You can expect a lot less calls than visits to your website and those calls are likely to come sometime after they have seen your website.

As a final example, let’s consider real estate agents. What can a real estate agent expect from their advertising? To answer this question, we need to take cognisance of the following: a) information is so readily available these days online, that there is little need to speak to an agent b) people often don’t like to speak to agents for fear of a “pushy salesperson” c) it is much more time effective to search for property online than going around visiting agents, or every open home.

If you are a real estate agent and you advertise under a search phrase for property for sale in your area, what are people that click on your ad most likely to do? Call you? NO! They are likely to click on the ad and go to your website. When they get to your website, they are going to check out your listings. If they can’t find anything they like, what do you think they will do? They will leave and go to the next website. Even if people find a listing they are interested in, there is still a very good chance they won’t call you, they will just visit the next open home.

If any business wants to make the most out of their advertising, then they need to have an effective call to action. If people are visiting your website, then this means giving them a compelling reason to call or visit you. Using real estate as an example, when people don’t find the property that they are looking for on your website, then you need to motivate them to call you. If you don’t, they will just move on to the next website. The failure to get the benefit of your advertising will be the responsibility of you and your website, not your advertising!

To get the most out of your advertising you need to: a) understand the role of your ads b) understand your customer and their customer journey and c) give them a call to action to make contact with you. Sitting back and expecting the ads to do everything is not a winning formula!

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