Rick is a good friend and a client of mine. He owns a plumbing and air conditioning, as he has for the past 20 years. Rick expressed to me that every year he sees more and more money on his ads and every year they generate less response: when he called me he was frustrated and uncertain what to do about it. This guy's at his wit end, and if you're reading this article maybe you feel the same way.
Here Is What's Been Happening:
The advertising publication (AP), which could have been a newspaper, magazine, trade journal or other publication), attempts to get as many businesses to advertise with them. That's THEIR objective. The more they bring in, the more they make. Now if you were placing an ad, you'd want low competition (so you're ad stands out), but the AP wants MORE competition so they make more money – this is a huge conflict of interest. The AP does not have your best interests at heart.
In response to all of this competition, the sales reps at the AP advise you that if you want to get the most out of your ad you need to make it bigger and you need to ad colors.
This is not always true; in fact if you keep reading you'll find out it's often not true.
Of course, the more colors you have and the bigger the ad, the more they charge you. If you hear, "You see, the bigger the ad, the more business you'll bring in", your BS monitor should go off. Remember, the more the sales rep charges you the more she / he makes, and the more the AP makes. At this point it's probably sinking in that sales reps do not need to have your best interests at heart, does it?
This is like a price war, and the casualties are the small business owners: every year businesses are told they need to spend more on their bigger, more colorful ads in order to generate the same number of calls and sales as they did last year. The business owners, who are confused and frustrated, end up paying more and raising the bar, so every year the price goes up. This is the vicious cycle my client Rick has been trapped in, again, you might feel this way too.
What About the "Free" Graphic Design That AP's Offer – This Is a Great Benefit, Right?
Goodness no. In fact, Rick told me that the process was a nightmare, and he's just one of thousands. Remember that one of the main objectives of marketing and advertising is to help you stand out from the crowd. Keep in mind the AP does not care if you stand out or if you get a great return on your investment – only that you buy a larger and more colorful ad.
To offset the larger ad they are charging you for, AP's offer you a token "gift" in return so the cost does not seem so unreasonable. What they do is pay inexpensive production graphic artists to turn out your ad as fast as possible – like an assembly line. In the end the AP will pay about $ 25- $ 125 to have your ad designed, compare that to the hike he / she charged you for the ad. Does not sound like such a good deal does it?
Over the years, several business owners who initially thought this was a first-rate deal claimed, "I had to spend several frustrating hours telling their artist every little thing … it was almost like I was designing the ad myself and he was just pushing buttons ". In the end the business owners did not get the ad that they wanted, they did not get the results they wanted, and many of them are still steamed at the whole situation.
What's the Solution?
Well, our business owner, Rick has been around the block before and he's a smart guy. He got tired of pumping money into a larger ad he got clever and started to focus on quality and not quantity.
Instead of looking like every other advertisement in the phonebook, Rick decides to invest his money in having a better, more effective ad designed – smart move
Hmm, better over bigger, can that work? Absolutely.
Make sure you understand this, it's important: what you say in your ad and how you say it is more importantly more important than the size of the ad. Do not be fooled into thinking that your ad can only bring in more calls and customers if you make it bigger and more colorful.
In developing any sort of advertising for your business, start by working with someone who has YOUR best interests at heart. As we've already discovered, this probably is not the AP or the sales rep that's working for them. Instead, hire a designer who has a track record of designing effective ads that always make her / his clients money.
Make sure you only work with designers that have a proven track record of success, have written and audio testimonials as well as a guarantee on all of the work they do. Now you'll have someone working for you that's not only an established expert, but they should have the same goals you do – to get the most value out of your advertisement.